Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J. K. Rowling
Pages: 435
Genre: YA, Fiction, Fantasy
Source: My bookshelf - yet again!
What you'll love: Well... everything. The plot thickens.
What will bug you: A few times Harry receives pieces of his story in an unrealistic manner.

Sirius Black is being held prisoner in Azkaban - a prison fortress for witches and wizards. He is said to have been working as a servant to Voldemort - killing thirteen people with a single curse. He has escaped, and the last words the guards heard him muttering in his sleep are "He's at Hogwarts... he's at Hogwarts."

So. Before we dive in. I'm trying to re-read the Harry Potter series before Halloween. I'm warning you now that this post is full of spoilers - so if you have not read this series, proceed with caution!

I remember reading this for the first time. I was teaching at music camp, and the sixth book had just come out. Everyone who was working at the camp was reading it and my friend Gabby finally convinced me to give the series a try. I'm not usually a big fan of YA (not that I don't think it's good reads - just not a genre I gravitate towards). I blew through the first two books pretty quickly thinking "OK. I get it. This is a good story." Then I read book three. I was hooked.

I think that book three is a pivotal point in the series. The first two books follow a similar format. Harry is a wizard. He goes to Hogwarts. He has an adventure. Book three
begins to delve into the darker side - not only of Harry's personal story, but of the wizarding world in general. The end of the story comes at you so quickly it's very hard to put down. (In truth, I was exhausted all day today because I stayed up way too late to finish it.)

I'll admit it - I'm not a fan of Harry's time in the Dursley household. I am always pretty excited when he moves on. Thankfully, this book spends less time with the Dursley's. I love how Harry hears about Sirius right away. He is set up so beautifully to be "the bad guy" in the story.

I love Lupin. Everything about him is great. Besides being a great teacher - giving his stu
dents hands-on experience - he makes a great connection with Harry. Once you find out he's a werewolf Rowling gets to, once again, deal with the subject of "racism". It's obvious that Lupin would be discriminated against because he was a werewolf - despite the fact that he has this part of himself under control. It's so disappointing to think that the students will lose his presence in the school.

In the course of a few chapters, Black and Lupin become Harry's family. The book ends on a very different note because of it.

The entire ending of the story is fantastic. So many gaps are filled in. We continue to find out about Harrys' parents and the circumstances surrounding their death. More information is given about the relationship between Snape and Potter. At the end of the story, the reader really has a sense of what side everyone's on. Well... I guess Snape is still up in the air, but we are beginning to understand him. (I can't help it - he's my favorite character!)

My only complaint about the story has to do with the circumstances under which Harry pieces together his story. I'm thinking particularly of the scene in the Three Brooksticks where Harry is under the table listening to McGonagall, Flitwick, Hagrid and Fudge talk about Sirius Black. First of all - if this is somewhat "classified informati
on" about Black, I find it highly unlikely that Fudge would be telling the waitress in a bar. Second, if the rest of them know the story - why are they retelling it? It's obviously for the benefit of the reader, and to progress the story. Harry needs to know this information and this is a way for him to hear it.

As I've been doing with the first two books, here is a list of what pops into my mind when I hear "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban".

1. The dementors! Creepy as hell - and so foreboding.

2. Pr
ofessor Trelawney. She's so obviously an idiot.

3. Harry figuring out how to use the Marauder's Map - being able to see everyone moving about the castle.

4. Mugs of hot butterbeer. Yes please.

5. Hermonine running herself ragged taking so many classes - and the moment Harry and the
reader find out how she's been doing it.

6. The scene in The Shrieking Shack. You get so much information at once the book races forward to the finish.

7. Lupin, Lupin, Lupin.

I loved it even more the second time around!

See you at the end of book 4!

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