I almost want to apologize for the cheesy title, but I won’t because I’ve been dying to make one of those since I started the blog. And now I have! So all is good. In my opinion, Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the two most underrated Harry Potter books, with the second being Order of the Phoenix, but I’ll get into that one later. In a way that the others don’t, including Goblet of Fire, Prisoner truly sets up the main climax, the thing that we all knew is coming but wasn’t sure how it would end until it did. This is for many reasons. One is a very obvious one, but others are much more subtle, I believe. To avoid spoilers (though really, who hasn’t read Harry Potter … says the girl who hasn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird…) I’ll discuss them in detail after the jump.
So let’s get the obvious one out of the way: Peter Pettigrew escaping to find Voldemort, just as Professor Trelawney predicted, is the thing that most spurs Voldy’s ability to regain a form and therefore start terrorizing Britain again. Lovely.
But there really are other subtle things that put in motion some of the most important aspects of the series.
For example, the introduction of Sirius. Everyone knows Sirius is super important to the story in the context of Harry’s life, feelings, and outlook. But without this introduction in the third book, we’d never have a headquarters for the Order after Pettigrew returns to Voldy in the fourth book, in turn never making Hermione aware of Phineas Nigellus’ portrait in the house, who then never would’ve been able to bring it on their journey to find the Hallows, which would have prevented Snape from sending the Doe to find Harry, which would have stopped the reunion of he and Ron, and eliminated the chance for Ron to prove his Gryffindor worth to get rid of a Horcrux, which means they wouldn’t have been able to get rid of Voldemort. (Wow that’s a run on sentence, sorry not sorry). So, uh, yes, Sirius is important because he shows Harry that he has always been loved, and that family is more than the Dursleys. But really, Sirius’ intro in the the Potterverse = bye bye locket horcrux, when you go by the transitive property. MASSIVE.
I guess you could argue nothing about Sirius’ introduction is subtle in its importance to the series. But I think the intricacies of Sirius’ heritage, and how that plays into Voldy’s ultimate defeat, is something very smartly woven into the fabric of the Potterverse, and is something people don’t often think about.
Anyway, on to the review…
REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling
Plot: As Harry begins his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, crazed killer Sirius Black is on the loose – and he seems to be coming for Harry! With creepy dementors stationed around Hogwarts, the school year continues on with new classes, new challenges, and old friends.
Most Memorable Line(s): I solemnly swear I am up to no good…Mischief Managed.
What I liked: Okay, I liked almost everything about this novel (I’ll discuss what I didn’t in a second don’t worry!). One of the strengths of all of these novels is the flawless way in which Rowling builds upon the past novels. This novel delves even deeper into the psyches and characters of the characters in the book as they enter teenhood. But honestly, what I love most is the plot of this book. I love learning more about what happened in Harry’s life all those years ago. I love being reminded that James and Lily had real lives before that night, and I LOVE the character who gets to teach Harry about that: Remus Lupin. What a straight up brilliant character. Someone who’s discriminated against, but still shows incredible empathy for the plights of others – whether their issues seem big or small to us. We can learn a lot from the type of person Lupin is in this book. I also love making Hagrid a teacher. The teaching profession is best served by those who are passionate about what they do, and Hagrid personifies that. I also loved that they added new classes. It’s great to know that they branch out with their magical education. Really, though, the plot – everything from Harry running from the Dursleys to journeying to the Shrieking Shack -sold this for me. All of these elements fit so well together, better than in other books I’d argue. Also, the idea of these figures from Harry’s parents lives coming into his, and ultimately shaping it so much, just really means a ton to me.
What I didn’t like: This was the first HP book where I paused at some of the things Hermione did, and that upset me. I know it was the intent – but it still frustrated me. Even when I knew she was being a know-it-all in the first books, she never seemed smug to me. I identified (and still identify) with Hermione so much when I read these for the first time, that I was upset by her smugness in this one – and it’s something I didn’t see in subsequent books, so it bothered me even more that it showed up in this one. Everything Hermione does is logical and makes sense, but does she have to be so frustrating about it? Although, so much sympathy for her with Trelawney. Oi vey, T.
Grade: 9.5/10, due to some unnecessary smugness.