Tuesday, May 15, 2018
[Book Review] Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he's after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can't imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry's success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This review is spoiler filled. I tried being a bit non-spoilery with the previous two but I realized if I want to review it the way I want to I will have to talk about the contents of the book. I don't feel too guilty about this because the first book in this series was published over a decade ago, so most people have read it. However, if you have not read it I highly recommend this series. They are absolutely amazing.
Okay, onto the review! I apologize if I am a bit all over the place. It's so hard for me to review these books because I just want to rave and gush. It's hard for me to read them and review them critically. I do recognize that it isn't the greatest thing, but I am trying to be better at it.
Re-reading this series feels like home every time I pick up another one. Prisoner of Azkaban is no exception to that. In Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets, both of those stories are more light, innocent, and magical. Where PoA where the plot starts to get darker and I do love it.
I feel like I didn't appreciate Harry as a character when I read these books for the first time, but it definitely influenced my humor. Sassy Harry is a literary icon and he is the best version of Harry. He's so quick witted and often incredibly intelligent in the way he speaks. I think because of Hermione's intelligence and book smarts, Harry often doesn't seem as smart but i think he seems to be incredibly smart. Maybe not as book smart, but definitely street smart. Which makes sense, considering he's been taking care of himself basically his entire life. I don't think that fully connected with me until I thought about it more during this re-read. One character I will and have always loved is Hagrid. He had such a rough time in this book. I just want Hagrid to have one Care of Magical Creatures class where nothing goes wrong and hes treated with respect. He's a literal angel and I hate that he doesn't get the respect and recognition he deserves. He had me crying multiple times and it just kills me with how much I want him to be happy.
Did anyone else get kind of annoyed with how dismissive people were towards Ron because he was upset that his pet was possibly eaten?! He continuously asked Hermione to keep an eye on her pet, Crookshanks, and she didn't. So Ron rightfully got upset. Granted, in the end we know the truth and that's all fine and dandy but for a while everyone in this situation assumed Crookshanks ate Scabbers! And then everyone basically told Ron to get over it because "Crookshanks was doing what cats do" and that was uncool. Maybe it's because I am biased when it comes to Ron, but he doesn't have a lot of personal items that are all his. Even Scabbers himself is a hand-me-down but Ron obviously cared for him and took good care of his pet. It just seemed like such a jerk move for everyone involved to be telling Ron to get over his anger with Hermione and his sadness about his pet being "dead".
Also, I may upset readers who like Snape, but starting with this book I did a lot of underlining and note tabbing. And there are so many instances where he's the literal worst. There is a scene in particular where poor Neville isn't doing a great job at brewing a potion and Snape is giving him a hard time. He tells Neville that once Neville is done, they'll feed the potion to Neville's pet toad Trevor. Who in their right mind as a teacher threatens to possibly harm a student's pet? Later on, he also gets incredibly upset at Sirius's escape, and attacks Harry in front of Madam Pomphrey, Dumbledore, and the Ministry of Magic. He screams at a thirteen year old boy admitted into the hospital wing. I'll never understand why Snape is so well loved by so many readers, because he's an awful person.
My heart is always broken into two pieces when Harry and Sirius start making excited future plans about living together. I remember feeling incredibly hopeful the first time I read this book because I was excited to see Harry living with someone who would actually care about him and love him. I just want all our actual heroes to be happy. Is that asking for too much?
I don't have many negative things to say about this book, considering it's one of the best ones of the series. I do find the permission slips to Hogmeade to make no sense at all, but that seems more of a "Hogwarts and it's rules are super nonsensical" and not so much a plot point. But still, it seems weird that the students don't need permission slips to go into the forbidden forest for detention, or later on to enter your name into the goblet of fire for the triwizard tournament where it's stated people could and have died. I mean I get you have to be of age to enter the tournament, but they're still students! But to walk across school grounds to an all magical town with a joke and sweet shop, you need permission. Hogwarts is weird man.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this re-read and I recommend it to everyone. I know it's not a favorite for everyone, but it holds such a big place in my heart that like I said earlier, I sometimes have issues reading it with my critical glasses on. I do have some issues with the series as a whole, one being the lack of diversity in race, sexual orientation, or sexual identity, but also there's some fat-phobia moments that as a fat person can make me feel uncomfortable. However, although reading this series is a connection to my Nan, who I lost a decade ago, makes it hard for me to take off my nostalgia glasses, no book or story is perfect. The Harry Potter series as a whole do have flaws and I think it would be unfair to not point them out.