To be honest, I fancied myself a Slytherin or a Hufflepuff. I guess Gryffindor is in between, eh? Anyway, I didn’t take the official test on Pottermore because I refuse to make an account.
Everybody agrees that Deathly Hallows part I, the movie, was one of the worst in the series. Well, the first 2/3 of the novel was very boring as well. Even when it bothered to get interesting, it would quickly get boring again. The whole horcrux thing was a great idea, but it was played off really poorly.
No deaths in the entire Harry Potter series was handled perfectly. Sirius was handled pretty well, but he was quickly forgotten, as if he had never existed. Dumbledore was the same way, but I will admit it was done much better.
In Deathly Hallows the people who died were so forgettable that I don’t even remember them while writing this review! I could go look it up, but if they were so minor I can’t remember them then… why bother mentioning them in a review? Oh! There was Moody. Right. The guy who was super interesting and clever until he got replaced by his real self. right. See my point?
The Hunt for Horcruxes
Look, the horcux thing was cool. Harry finally had a mission. But… this should have come about way back in book two or three, or four. Not six. And then IT’S THROWN ASIDE HALFWAY THROUGH??
The Deathly Hallows
What was the point of the Hallows? They could have never been mentioned. Actually, no it’s a motivation for Voldemort. he’s finding the wand throughout the entire book, so we need that at least. Well then what about horcruxes? It seems like, if Rowling had bothered to ever write a second draft of anything, which I doubt she ever did, then she would have found and remedied this redundancy.
Redundancy is a huge issue with Harry Potter.
The horcruxes really did serve no purpose whatsoever because it never mattered. It was a useless obstacle for two reasons.
Voldemort is only really encountered when all of the horcruxes are destroyed already.
Harry never fights Voldemort head on while he has the horcrux safety net.
The only thing that really mattered here was the Hallows. Horcruxes should never have come into the story.
Voldemort is an Awful Villain
This goes without saying. Why? Because he’s evil because he’s evil. There’s no reason for him to be bad, he just is. Nothing happened to him, he doesn’t really have a selfishness that makes people go bad, he just likes causing misery.
We can never get an answer to that question because there isn’t one.
The Ending was not Memorable
I don’t remember how this ended, except for Harry and Volde coming out of the trees and confronting a line of wizards, then Neville killing the snake. After that it’s a blur. I also remember the short, pointless epilogue.
Why wasn’t the ending memorable? Well, it’s because
All the Build Up Went Nowhere.
Remember Grawp? Hagrid went through a whole lot of trouble and abuse to get him. He even had a connection to the half-giant, it’s his brother! What did Grawp, for all his trouble, do? Shove Hagrid through a window and that’s it.
Remember the Deathly Hallows? Well we had one already, the other we also had. The wand Voldemort found, and then what? Not much really. Pointless.
How about Dumbledore’s army! No, wait, Harry disbanded that in book six. Or the Order of the Pheonix? Well, after Harry went off with his two friends to do nothing for a few hundred pages they faded into the background and did @#$% all for the rest of the book.
Lupin had a whole book. Moody sort of had a whole book. Sirius… nevermind. But there were a lot of huge HUGE characters in the series that did nothing in the final fight. Why? Remember all the trouble Harry and Dumbledore went through to recruit Slughorn last book? Well Rowling didn’t.
The Payoffs that did Land Fell Flat
Horcruxes? Yeah, we had to destroy those! Three down by this book. And then… there was no payoff. Nagini died and that was it, it didn’t feel like a victory. That slog, torturing Dumbledore, and at the end of it all we feel unfulfilled.
Then Snape actually did something good for once. We all knew that deep down he was a great character, just misunderstood! I awaited the moment when he would get over himself and start helping out the main cast. Instead, after becoming Harry’s friend, he died. Sirius all over again! No deep attachment was made yet, but bam! Gone!
Defeating Voldemort though, that must have been great, after seven books of buildup, right? Well, no, not at all. He’s floating somewhere ethereal right now, like purgatory or something. He’s a crying child which, by the way, makes no sense. Like, he was a vile trickster even in his orphanage. What’s he crying about? Who cares?
I Don’t Know what to Do Now.
See, Harry Potter is beloved by so many, and while I don’t really hate it, I also can’t recommend it. I watched three of the movies, but there’s no rewatch/reread value whatsoever aside from maybe seeing what Luna looks like as an actor. (Nevermind, she’s super hot. Might have to watch the movies with her.)
The worst thing about the whole series is that it’s not even a bad story, it’s just delivered poorly, and in bad prose.
It’s as if Rowling never learned how to be a writer, and just decided to write a series regardless. Oh wait…
JK Rowling ignored the advice that was given in rejection letters. Advice to take a course, or otherwise improve her writing. She just kept submitting, and got turned down more than fifteen times. By refusing to improve, she not only let’s down Harry Potter, but also her fans.
Harry Potter and the Nothing Happens is a book about just that. It felt kind of Hallow to be honest. I didn’t feel Deathly, or even let down. I didn’t feel much of anything, which isn’t a good sign. I just didn’t.
54/100, not memorable. I honestly hope Rowling tries to improve her writing in the future so that her next series is a masterpiece that people love far above Harry Potter.
This is an enhanced version of the original review. It’s six-hundred words longer, and has more images including a sketch of Lupin that I made myself.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. The Chamber of Secrets was really an experimental mess of a book. But what comes from experimentation? Progress! And the Prisoner of Azkaban is proof that that experimentation paid off. Let’s get right into it.
Edit: I’ll add, that now that I’m nearly done Deathly Hallows, I can say with confidence that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite book in the series, despite it lacking my favourite character, Luna Lovegood.**
You might remember in my previous reviews that one of my big gripes with Harry Potter is that the books took so long to get of the ground. Eight chapters for the Philosopher’s Stone, and thirteen for the Chamber of Secrets. This time, things get started almost immediately, and I’m really happy that Rowling has realized the flaw in her other two and fixed it!
Edit: Right, so I believe that this book did have a slight dip in interest after the Knight Bus, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Goblet of Fire’s awful plummet into boredom until chapter 20.
Is Hogwarts Really Safe?
At first I thought this book would take place in Azkaban, maybe rescuing Hagrid or something. Instead, Rowling has brought a little bit of Azkaban to us. In The Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid tells Harry that Gringots Bank is the safest place to store something, except maybe Hogwarts. I think he was wrong. Hogwarts is possibly the most dangerous school in fiction.
In the first book, maybe it’s safe, if you don’t consider the fact that there’s a Cerberus guarding something inside the castle. Why not somewhere else? Further, there’s the woods just outside full of dangerous creatures. And what about the whomping willow? I’m sure that’s harmed a student or two. The real proof though, is in this and the previous book. In the Chamber of Secrets, there’s a giant killer snake that has access to all the waterways. Real safe, right? And then here, despite large amounts of security, a man with a knife breaks in without issue multiple times! Hogwarts isn’t safe!
Edit: Looking back, Hogwarts is fairly safe, but only in book five. Here’s an overview:
Voldemort is literally in the castle most of the book.
Giant snake. Spiders in the past.
Man with a knife, twice.
The Goblet is tampered with. Voldemort’s most devoted follower is let in as a teacher. A student dies.
Nothing! (Luna is also introduced.)
!!!Killing of a Teacher!!!Death Eaters in the castle!!!
Swarming with Death Eaters.
So, my statement was fairly valid. Gringot’s on the other hand, has only been broken into twice, and no one died.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was actually very interesting, and I enjoyed most of the middle portion. Not much to criticize until the end parts. I really enjoyed learning more about Harry’s past, about Harry’s father and his three friends.
Edit: Lupin’s classes were definitely the highlight. They were interesting, and adventurous. I also enjoyed the interactions between Harry and Lupin. Why don’t we talk about the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher for a bit?
I loved Professor Lupin, I think he’s my favourite Harry Potter character so far. In fact, I might do a sketch of him, because my imagination conjured something much different then the movie’s actor. He taught in a practical manner, and helped Harry out a lot. Also, I’m a huge fan of the shabby casual air he had. Quite the opposite of Malfoy, don’t you think? I’d love it if Mr. Lupin returned in the future, although considering what little happens to Lockheart, I’m not getting my hopes up.
Edit: I was right, Lupin does not return, at least not in full force. He comes back in Order of the Phoenix, but it’s not the same Lupin. He’s like… a cheap imitation of Lupin. I was mildly disappointed, but as we know, Ms. Lovegood was introduced in that book, so the pain was numbed. We get our old Lupin back at the end half of the final book. Wow, what a wait, happy to see you again, Lupin!
This is where the weak point is. Honestly, I loved the Prisoner of Azkaban from start to finish, but the climax stood out. Something was wrong. Then I realized, it had the exact same issue as the Chamber of Secrets, the climax was a huge infodump! The information was far more interesting, and I was mostly engaged, but holy! The dump was twice as long this time, and there was no actual action scene afterwards, not a real one anyway.
Worse, it takes forever to get started. The kids meet up with the infamous Sirius Black (a suspicious name for an antagonist), and he just wants to explain himself. He says something along the lines of, “You’ve got it all wrong.” Then for a page or two, Harry and his friends interrupt him and flail their wands threateningly. This scene dragged on until Lupin shows up and the exposition begins.
Look, I don’t have a problem with exposition. My favourite book is probably over 30% infodump [Edit: The Lost World is closer to 40% exposition.], but it’s never used as a way to drive the plot forward, just to explain what’s happening. What is happening in Harry Potter, for books two and three, a lot of the climax is being told, not shown. This is poor writing at its most basic definition.
Edit: Added this entire section.
Sirius Black is a great character. He’s consistent, he’s moderately (not amazingly) interesting, and he’s a bit of fun. I had so much hope for Sirius, but things don’t turn out well for him later down the line. And I don’t mean what happened at the end of book five, that was actually kind of stupid.
What I mean is, Sirius was Harry’s godfather, he was Harry’s last guardian figure. He deserved not only more screen time, but more depth. Sirius is… a two dimensional character. He’s not flat, but he’s also not whole. He has two sides, the badass, biker side, and the happy go lucky dog side. But that’s it. Sirius would beat out Lupin as my second favourite side character, but he’s just so… empty feeling.
There was one vital scene for Sirius Black, and that was the one were Harry and Sirius have a long, deep conversation with each other. The one where they full develop their relationship, and learn a bit about each other. After that scene, every encounter between the two characters was enhanced, both future and past. You remember that scene?
Neither do I. And it’s a shame it never happened, because it needed to. Rest in Peace fully fleshed out Sirius, we are so sorry that you do not exist.
Look, I know I’ve been ragging on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but as I said before, I really liked this book. I think Sirius Black was great character, and I loved the twist involving him, and how the book began straight away instead of halfway through. I’m giving this book fourteen extra points on the previous. Fourteen points for Gryffindor! That’s 76/100! Awesome, if this were a movie, that would be a bit over four stars. I hope it’s all uphill from here, because I’m really starting to enjoy myself.
Edit: As we know, it is not uphill from here. The only book that surpasses this is Half-Blood Prince. Lupin and Sirius were great, as was Harry and his friends. It would be great if Rowling learned the meaning of pacing, but I’ll save that rant for the series overview. See you all next book, I hope you return.
I will admit that when this book had a strong start, I got worried. The Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix both proved that if a Harry Potter book starts strong, it doesn’t stay that way. The Half-Blood Prince, to my joyous surprise did though. This was the only consistently enjoyable book in the series so far apart from the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Harry Potter is taken to the Burrow by Dumbledore, although they stop so that Harry Potter can help recruit Slughorn as the new teacher.
Upon reaching the Burrow, which is Ron’s house, things go fairly normal. If anything really happened there apart from finding out the Fleur was marrying Bill, I don’t remember it.
We find out that Mrs. Weasley has yet another negative trait. Mr. Weasley even admits that his dream is to figure out how airplanes work, but it seems that Mrs. Weasley doesn’t support his dreams at all. She hates that he’s into non-wizard technology, and is very happy that he’s no longer working in the Muggle Artefacts department.
Ginny also stands up to her mother, reminding me of the twins. She tries to pull her away from talking with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and she just calls back, “I’m talking with this lot!” I thought it was brilliant. So much, that I wrote the quote down!
The Word of the Day
Before I forget, the word of the day is “prat.” It was used at least six times, but I didn’t bother to count. Seemed to be the prime insult for most of the characters.
This appears to be wish-fulfilment the book, and we all know how much J.K. loves wish-fulfilment. *Sneers like Snape.*
Speaking of Snape, he finally got the Defence Against the Dark Arts job. And even better, Hermione finally found a teacher that enjoys her hand being up all the time! Slughorn is very impressed.
Lessons with Dumbledore
The lessons with Dumbledore were, as I said, a tool for lazy exposition. Now that isn’t entirely true, it was used for some very good exposition, but I still feel like it could have been executed a bit better. No big deal though.
What did bug me what we actually learned in the pensive’s memories. See, before I had thought that maybe Tom Riddle was a good student who fell to the Dark Arts and turned into the evil Voldimortimer.
Tomathy “Volditort” Riddler
Nope, he was always evil, ever since childhood. Let’s play count the tropes! Voldemort is:
Evil because Evil
Has an honorific name (Lord)
Prophecy (Complete with chosen one)
Arch Enemy (of Dumbledore)
Disliked by All (Most follow him from fear. Notice how many left when he “died”)
Turned ugly by evil
Discriminates (Not pure-blood?)
Don’t Call me Tom!
No concept of love
Literally a psychopath
Whew! I wasn’t expecting that much. And you’re right, it’s sociopath, not psychopath. I wonder if Rowling knew that Voldemort was so damaged? Or worse, that we was so… generic?
See, I know that the “fallen from grace” thing is also a trope, but it’s far more interesting. They could have set up for an epic moral argument at the end, like Tales of Symphonia. (By the way, Symphonia’s plot is far better constructed than this)
The Middle Part There
Tell the Truth, Boy!
Harry Potter has developed a habit of telling the truth. Basically the complete opposite of every other book up to this point. Why? We never find out, ever. There is no explanation. However, I’m very happy about it. (Not the lack of explanation, that’s stupid. But Harry not being a liar really cleans up the narrative.)
The Epic Return of Ron Weasley
Not much to say really. Ron’s back to normal, and I’m very happy about it. (For those of you who missed the previous review, I noted that Ron had become a side character. He really faded into the background, and I like Ron, so that was sad.)
This Book was Written on Valentine’s Day
I know that there were relationships in previous books, but nothing like this. Everyone paired up in this book, almost suddenly, and sometimes twice! It was as if Rowling was like, “Oh no, I’ve hit the second last book and there’s been no movement in the destined relationships since book two! Better do it all now!”
Hermione and Ron made sense, it worked. Harry and Ginny though… I don’t know, it just seemed like it was always one sided, and then Ginny lost interest, and then Rowling decided to stick them together anyway. The result was flat, and emotionless. I got excited every time Ron would make a move, and Hermione would get flustered. I felt nothing when anything happened between Harry and Ginny.
Here’s my theory as to why.
Ginny x Harry was originally a one sided infatuation. Then, Ginny gave up on Harry and moved on. Then, suddenly out of nowhere, Harry (or Rowling) decided he was in love Ginny.
They never really have a decent interaction, or even a conversation! There’s nothing between them, they haven’t had any conversations in which to grow closer, they just made out.
Once again, Harry proves he’s a Slytherin with the Quiddich game. Clever, he tricked Ron into thinking that he took the luck potion. Ron played amazing, but he hadn’t taken the potion at all!
On a side note, I can’t be the only one who’s seen Harry’s Slytherin side… completely disappear since book two when it was a plot point? I really wish Rowling was a more attentive writer…
I’d Love to go with You as Friends!
Luna Lovegood is the woman (well, girl, but I prefer to imagine her as a woman.) that Harry brought to Slughorn’s party. Wonderful! As you might have noticed, I love Luna.
Also, RIP the friendzone. Why Harry, why!!!!!
Slughorn himself is a very well constructed character. He’s very Slytherin in his motives, quite despicable, but he’s also still just a man. And quite a friendly one too. I’m pretty happy about him actually.
The party though, I burst out laughing at this part,
To Harry’s horror, Slughorn threw out an arm and seemed to scoop Snape out of thin air towards them.
This is my kind of humor.
Harry Potter’s Character
Has improved once more. I knew, I knew that he had potential! Harry isn’t perma-angry, but his comebacks are getting strong.
The plot was strung along with Dumbledore keeping secrets to conveniently give Harry and his friends time to date each other. Otherwise, like Prisoner of Azkaban, this book had great pacing.
Wouldn’t it be Neat if the Half-Blooded Prince wasn’t Voldemort?
I wrote that as a note, and then was quite satisfied when Voldimort turned out not to be the prince after all.
The Last Chapters
On getting the Horcrux, if the goblet filled with the potion… why not just dump it out? Why feed it to Dumbledore?
Malfoy seems not to be evil enough to kill Dumbledore. Will he get a chance for redemption? I hope so. You know it’s actually quite easy to turn a foe into a friend, since you have such a deep relationship with them already.
I’m not going to spoil it, although I know I’ve spoiled a lot already.
I am very very picky about deaths. The deaths in Harry Potter so far were not poorly done, and yet they still weren’t all that well done. Sirius died for no reason, and his death made no sense. It didn’t even end up becoming a motivator for Potter! What was the point!? As for this death, I don’t know what to thing. It was unexpected. It was weird. And worse, it could have been faked.
We don’t know where Snape’s allegiances lie at the moment, but consider the following fan theory. (If you could call me a fan, I keep giving the books 6/10s)
What if Snape had simply knocked Dumbledore away? What if he did a silent incantation while saying, perhaps a slurred or mispronounced avada kedavra? Dumbledore gets blasted away, magics up a decoy body, and goes into hiding in the room of requirement.
It’s not even that intricate. It make sense. It’s easy. It works. It’s too good to be true.
So, the Half Blood Prince might actually be the best book so far. I don’t know how to compare it to Azkaban, because that was so long ago. For now, I’ll give it a 78/100. Good job J.K. Rowling, let’s see if you can keep it up!
A Personal Note
When I first started this series, I talked to a friend about it. The thing he had mentioned he hadn’t liked about Harry Potter was that after a certain point, the tone changed completely. I think I’ve hit that point, the point where all the whimsy and all the magic left the series and it devolved into a bunch of teenagers killing each other.
I’m entering the Deathly Hallows tentatively.
I didn’t really sign up for this. I wasn’t really seeking for an entire final book full of depression and violence. I really hope it doesn’t turn out that way, but it seems as if that’s the direction that the series has taken. The tone has shifted.
The comparison that my friend gave was Lord of the Rings. There was always this evil force brooding in the background, and then it slowly came to the foreground, just like Harry Potter. But unlike Harry Potter, that lightheartedness stayed until the end. The example he gave was during the final movie, there was a scene where the cast let loose and Gimli and Legolas had a drinking competition.
Will that be the case in Harry Potter? Will that wonder that came with the first book return? I hope so.
Every book has a word or phrase that J.K. Rowling uses way too many times. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the word is Navel! Used about nine times. Runner-up goes to Curtly, which was used seven or eight times.
In my last review, I started by saying, “This book started off with so much promise, but ended up becoming almost as messy as Chamber of Secrets.” Well, I have a nearly identical statement to make for this book, and I’m really not happy about it.
This book started off with so much promise, but ended up having one of the weakest middle sections of any of the books. Luckily it had a good recovery. (That’s what I call the part after the climax. The actual climax was meh.)
So, while Goblet of Fire had absolutely garbage pacing, and felt like two or three books mixed together, Order of the Phoenix is better. Here we go.
It seems that ever since the Quiddich game at the beginning of Goblet of Fire, Rowling has been adding more and more things for Harry to do or deal with before he actually reaches Hogwarts. This time around, it’s really far more exciting than a Quiddich match followed by Death Eaters and a dark mark.
This time, Harry and his cousin Dudley get attacked by Dementors! Harry uses the patronus charm and drives them off. Well, if you remember, he got his final warning not to use magic outside of Hogwarts in Chamber of Secrets, and so now he’s facing expulsion.
Before we get to that, I’m going to talk about the changes in Harry Potter as a character.
I was so happy that Harry started to show some teenage angst. As a young man myself, I completely relate to this, being angry at everything as a teenager? You bet that’s how it is. Especially when your guardians are the Dursleys! Sadly, later on in the book anger becomes less of a teenage issue and more of a character trait. Harry is just angry 26/8, all the time, to his friends and enemies alike. It’s… well it’s a great way to ruin a good thing. You can almost say that that’s the theme of the book, ruining great things.
So, another great thing about this amazing beginning is that Harry finally has a chance to be frank with the Dursleys. The Dursleys have been showing their human side more and more since book one, and this is probably the greatest example of that. Harry explains about how he’s in trouble for casting magic, what a dementor is, that they guard Azkaban, and so on. Petunia Dursley also receives a howler about keeping Harry around even though he’s being so angsty, which is interesting, and elaborated on later.
So, Harry gets picked up by a few members of the Order of the Phoenix and brought to their hideout, which is Sirius Black’s house. On the way, J.K. tries, and fails, to pull a Bleach. That is, she introduces a lot of characters at once that will be around in the future. They are, Lupin, Moody, Tonks, Sirius, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and Kreature. The only real issue here is that doing that is a lot harder when you’re not using a visual medium.
Anyway, when he gets there, Ron and Hermoine fill him in on what they know about what’s going on and what the order is, which is almost nothing. Luckily Fred and George are amazing and they have developed extendible ears with which to spy. Mrs. Weasley had taken these devices from them, but of course they had extra, as, and I quote from my notes here, “YOU CANNOT STOP FRED AND GEORGE.” They’re probably the most driven characters in the series. I mean, Mrs. Weasley and the entire faculty of Hogwarts are probably more difficult enemies than whatever Voldemort has had to face, so that’s that.
Well, Harry Potter uses the only emotions he’s allowed to in this book, and gets angry. Lupin decides that they might as well fill him in, and so he and Sirius do so. Mrs. Weasley gets really angry about this. In fact, it seems she too only has one emotion in this book, and that’s the unending compulsion to nag for no good reason. Undoubtedly she is the most irritating character in this book, and to make matters worse, she’s given almost no redeeming qualities.
They think Voldemort is after some sort of weapon. That’s basically it.
So, finally, it’s time to go to Hogwarts.
Oh right, Ron and Hermoine are prefects now, so they have to sit in the prefect car and oversee people. Now, I actually really liked what happened here. Harry is separated from his normal friends, giving him and the reader a chance to explore a few other characters, namely Ginny, Neville, and Luna Lovegood.
Luna Lovegood is tied with Sirius Black and old Lupin (I can’t be the only one who noticed him get boring after leaving Hogwarts!) as my favourite character.
Needless to say, she’s my favourite Hogwarts student, and in the span of only one book! I hope she gets more screen time in later entries. Anyway, Loony Luna Lovegood is a girl Ginny’s age. She’s one of those characters that seems odd, or even a bit crazy, but behind it all has a very wise attitude. Luna is probably, no, Luna is the most mature student that we encounter.
I’ve only been inspired to draw two characters, Lupin and Luna. Having yet to read the last two books, I’ll state that Luna is currently my favourite ship for Harry. I mean, Cho is of little value, Ginny has potential, but they haven’t really hung out properly since… the Chamber of secrets, and Hermione… Well I think she’s going to end up with Ron. However, in the last couple books (including this) Harry and Hermione have grown rather close, spending a lot of time together without Ron.
Speculation aside, Luna and Harry have some very interesting synergy. They relate to each other, and have some of Harry’s deepest conversations outside the infodumps we get from Dumbledore. At the beginning, she reassures him about Thestrals. At the end, she gives him solace about the veil. Harry and Luna have really only had two one-on-one conversations, but she’s brought more to the table than most other characters. And in only one book.
I hope to see more of this strange young woman.
This time around, the sorting hat gives a warning against division. Awesome, I always thought that it was odd that the houses divided the students. Division is one of the greatest weakness of humans after all, why cut the lines even deeper?
I have a quote written down with no context, but I think it’s about Harry’s dreams or about Umbridge.
She said, “It’s best to know what the enemy is saying.” And I simply wrote after it, Hermione needs more power.
I wonder if she becomes head girl, or maybe even future headmaster of Hogwarts?
Anyway, additionally, some problems were addressed, so that was good. Sadly, they aren’t solved, just pointed out, but is sure is a start! I believe in you J.K.! So, first it’s Harry’s anger. He starts to get backlash from his friends about him raging at them for no reason. The second is Ron and Hermione arguing. Harry begins to tell them off about it. We’ll see how it goes in later books.
Also, Harry gets bonus points for actually standing up to Malfoy. Finally.
Professor Umbridge is probably the worst thing about this book. Here’s the problem. She’s awful and oppressive, but aside from her detentions, there’s nothing really there to make me hate her, to make me want her to get hurt. In trouble? Yes! But hurt or attacked by centaurs? Not really. That scene actually felt a bit awkward.
Harry Potter and the Deus Ex Room
Have a problem Harry? Don’t worry! J.K. will get you out of any problem. Need to sneak around the halls late at night to move the plot forward and overhear stuff? Here’s an invisibility cloak. Need to make sure no one catches you, and that you can find all the secret passages in Hogwarts? No problem! Here’s the Marauder’s Map! Need a place to practice defence against? Don’t worry! J.K. will send Dobby to answer all of your troubles!
Damn, this room of convenience! Why not have the characters actually solve their damn problems? Why feed them with solutions to problems you didn’t have the forethought to figure out a real answer to? Gahh!!
My Poor Nerves!
So, under the tyranny of Umbridge, Harry’s options for help being snuffed out one by one (letters then floo network), and he won’t talk to Dumbledore, and we get the creeping suspicion that Voldemort might be messing with his dreams. Worse, he skips out on his Occlumency lessons with Snape.
It was about halfway through the Order of the Phoenix that the story began to stress me out. I got that feeling you get in your heart, like something’s stuck there. I call it dark adrenaline, but I’m certain it’s actually a form of anxiety.
Look, I get that a book making you feel emotion is a good thing, but I don’t really want to feel like garbage, and I’m sure Harry Potter feels the same. Can we chill out with all this oppression Rowling? It’s like the awful first third of Chamber of Secrets all over again! Tell Umbridge to chill!
“His life had seemed to become a long series of worries and problems”
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
That’s a direct quote from the book.
Oh yeah, and it gets even worse when Harry starts to think he’s the weapon Voldemort wants. When he starts to think that he’s the enemy. Thankfully, this awful arc gets left behind as the climax winds up.
Cho’s romantic arc was fairly typical. Not sure why she kissed him, but I know a cop-out when I see one, and Rowling not describing the kiss as it happened, instead doing it through recollection was a clear dodge.
So, it turns out the whole reason we haven’t seen more of Cho’s character is because there isn’t any more. She’s just a girl who is pretty and dates important boys. That’s it!
For whatever reason (to string the plot along I’m sure), Harry Potter doesn’t want to tell Dumbledore about his dreams, or his scar’s pains or anything. No important information regarding Voldi is to reach Dumbledore’s ears!
Further on stringing the plot along, not being able to talk to Sirius really inhibited plot progression. It’s probably one of the many reasons this novel is so damn artificially long.
Overall, everyone acts in an irritatingly predictable way except for Sirius Black and Dumbledore.
Also, because of the Bleach that was pulled, I can’t keep track of names. I’ve finished the book and I still don’t know who Sturges or Bode are. Like, at all.
Occlumency with Severus
So, Harry doesn’t study and doesn’t improve, despite Dumbledore and Sirius telling him it’s immensely important. Go figure. Worse, Snape actually ends lessons when he finds Harry in the pensive watching his darkest memories, a memory of Snape being bullied by Harry’s father.
I got excited. I thought they were going to have some sort of awkward heart to heart, and finally realize how similar they were to each other. For Snape to see Harry as Harry, and not his bullying, smug father.
It didn’t happen, but there are still two more books. I’m watching you Rowling. You better give Snape his liberation. He clearly deserves it. Dumbledore trusts him, will Harry?
This Book Starts at Chapter Twenty-Seven
Luckily the beginning was so good.
Also, props to Fred and George. They decided they were done with school, and went balls to the walls with pranks against Umbridge. They exited after turning a section of the school into a swamp. Those two are amazing.
I’m not sure why, but that’s in my notes. So, go Luna?
Also, yeah that point on poor Ron. Let’s talk about poor Ron, shall we?
Ronald Weasley is not a Main Character.
What did Ron do in Order of the Phoenix? I’ll wait.
Yeah, I couldn’t think of anything either. Poor Ron! He’s been through four books, and each one he becomes less and less important. The last time he’s been useful for a climax was Chamber of Secrets, and that wasn’t even the main climax.
Hermione is now taking up his tasks. The only main characters in this book are Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Albus Dumbledore. Ron is a side character now, and it sucks. I liked Ron a lot. I hope we see him reinstated as a real character in the next two books!
Was pointless. They went in to save Sirius, who wasn’t in trouble. This wouldn’t be a bad thing really, but the problem is that if your climax is a mistake then the characters aren’t fighting for anything! That’s a really good formula for a really bad climax.
Worse, the death of one of my favourite characters made no sense, and is only vaguely explained by Lovegood (bless her soul).
The Redemption of the Phoenix
After the climax, Harry has a long, hard talk with Dumbledore. This talk explains a lot, and was well executed. It’s not an infodump, it’s just well performed exposition. It made me feel a whole lot better about this book.
And then, on the way back home, Lune Lovegood explains the veil that killed Harry’s friend during the climax. At least, she tries. She empathizes.
Will Harry ever calm down?
Will Molly ever stop nagging?
Kreature is a troll.
Snape won’t teach Harry
Causes stress and anxiety
Climax was weak
Luna Lovegood was introduced
So, as you can see, the pros outweigh the cons, so this book is getting more than 50/100. I’ll give it a 64, which indecently is one point more than Chamber of Secrets.
I’m a little ways into Half-Blooded Prince. So far it’s good, but Order of the Phoenix started strong too, so I’m wary. I honestly hope that it stays this good.
This book started off with so much promise, but ended up becoming almost as messy as Chamber of Secrets. I was hoping that it was all uphill from here, but Rowling’s writing is still as bumpy and unpolished as ever. Here we go… This time I at leas made sure to write a not on the positive aspects as well as the negative. I wasn’t very happy with myself for loving the Prisoner of Azkaban and then proceeding to only talk about the negative parts. I’ve fixed that now.
Before Reaching Hogwarts
At the beginning, Harry races off to a world Quiddich match with the Weasleys. There isn’t really a purpose to this other than to introduce a few characters, and portkeys which are mundane items that when touched will transport people to a specified location. It’s a moderately interesting pre-Hogwarts event, and a nice change of pace. The characters introduced is the thoroughly under-developed Viktor Krum, the Minister Cornelius Fudge, Bagman, and Crouch. We also learn about portkeys, and apparition becomes more commonplace. Honestly, I’m scared of the plot pitfalls that come with apparating, but I’ll touch on that later when I talk about the most evil curse.
The Quiddich game was fairly interesting, but I was more interested in what happened after, Death Eaters came to the campsites and harassed some non-wizards. Harry’s wand was found in the hands of a house elf, and the Dark Mark of Voldemort was summoned. Spooky!
The issue with J.K. Rowling using the same phrases or adjectives over and over throughout the book not only continues, but gets worse here. It might just be because this book is fairly long though. Characters “went pink” or “turned red” five or six times throughout the book. I get that people are getting flushed a lot, but maybe describe it in a different way once or twice? I’m really not sure if this is an editing issue, or if it’s a writing issue, but it is very irksome. Sadly, this minor quibble of mine continues in the next book, which is a real drag.
After Reaching Hogwarts
The trip to Hogwarts remained as interesting as ever, the sorting is done, and all that. Right away I noticed that the description in this book had improved compared to previous entries, what with people sitting on hedgehogs and swimming in the lake. I really liked the personality of the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, Mr Moody. He seemed really friendly, almost too friendly really… CONSTANT VIGILANCE!
Moody teaches Harry’s class about the three forbidden curses. One is a mind control curse, the other tortures, and the last one kills. That’s avada kedavra. And now it’s time to talk about all the easy ways out in J.K.’s writing.
My Fears about Potentially Plot Harmful Devices
Avada kedavra is guns, and guns are the worst. In a story of magic, killing, even in a swift manner, can be so much more interesting than saying an obvious play on abracadabra, the magic word. It’s not a draw from the story yet, and I’m tentatively hoping it never does. I’m a bit through Order of the Phoenix right now, and so far we’re good, but I have my fears that when the fights break out, this spell will ruin battles the same way guns run fight scenes in action movies. Nobody wants that!
Next up is appartition. Teleporting can become another easy way out, for obvious reasons. An apparator can leave when they want, but enemies can also poof in wherever they’re needed without the reader batting an eye at the lazy setup.
I hope my fears prove wrong!
Okay, let’s see. A lot of times in this book, Malfoy gets what’s coming to him, being yelled at or scolded a few times at the beginning.
The Goblet of Fire
At first I was mad, as I often am with things that come out of nowhere to further the plot. Now I know better. Every time something big comes out of left field, it always ends up getting a thorough and logical explanation. Harry Potter’s name being pulled out of the Goblet as an unexpected fourth champion in the Triwizard Tournament ended up making sense, it was part of someone’s plan!
Although a thought still comes to my mind. If Harry was entered as a Champion for some mysterious fourth school, wouldn’t that mean that his win was not in Hogwart’s name?
It seemed that Hagrid’s class, what with all the Skrewts that provide no deep relevance to the plot, isn’t really a class and more of an excuse to get Harry and his friends close to Hagrid. They have a lot to talk about, what with Harry competing in and fretting about the Triwizard Tournament.
Ron is actually jealous of Harry. All of the legs up Harry has had on him have built up and he doesn’t talk to Harry for the first few chapters after the Golbet draws Harry’s name. “Everything seems to happen to you.” Was a statement that not only Ron, but a few other people said to Harry during the story. It was a really meta thing to say more than once, and I have no idea why. Ron and Harry’s conflict was a decent idea for a subplot, but again, it really didn’t do much for the overall plot.
I think this is going to become a theme throughout this review, there are a lot of moving parts to this story that don’t really fit. They’re interesting enough that they don’t ruin the story, but I believe that the narrative is weaker for their lack of contribution.
During Ron and Harry’s fallout, a whole lot of bad things happen to Harry. It reminded me of the overbearing feel-bad beginning to Chamber of Secrets. Didn’t add much to the plot and just made the reader feel bad for Harry, but with no result, no payoff! Rowling, you know that this kind of thing works best before a climax, right?
The Trials of the Triwizard Tournament
The four champions are Cedric, Fleur, Viktor Krum (the quiddich guy), and of course Harry.
The first of three trials comes up. Harry gets help from Hagrid, who shows him that the first task is dragons. He also gets aid from Moody, who gives him hints on what spell to use to get past it. During the trial, Harry summons his broom and flies around the dragon, and gets the special golden egg in good time. He gets a decent rating, but Cedric comes out on top. The next trial has a clue from inside the golden egg, but the egg seems to scream.
While we’re here, at chapter twenty, I’ll just say that this is when the book full caught my interest. Not right away like Azkaban, not after eight or thirteen chapters like the first and second books. It took twenty this time. I’ll admit that the build up was a little more interesting, but after chapter nine the tension died, and I got a little bored. That’s eleven dead chapters.
The Yule Ball
Harry has to find a date to the ball that goes with the tournament. Not sure why. Side plots, am I right? Hermoine ends up going with Krum, so she’s not an option for Harry or Ron. Harry asks Cho Chang at the last minute, but too late! She’s going with Cedric. Harry and Ron end up going with some girls whose names I forget. No kidding.
The ball doesn’t go that well, Harry dances once but then his date moves on. Ron is actively rude to his date, and she also leaves. Ron and Harry move on to the garden outside to talk. They overhear Hagrid and Maxime, the teacher from Fleur’s school who is also very large. They seem to be getting on alright, really close now, until Hagrid starts talking about his parents, wizard father, giant mother! Hagrid is a half giant! With the negative reputation that giants have, Hagrid asking Maxime which of her parents was a giant doesn’t go over well. She gets mad, and it seems like their relationship is over now.
The Second Trial
This time his opponent Cedric helps him out, saying he should take a bath with the egg. And so he was right! The egg’s screams become singing underwater. He gets his clue, some form of underwater retrieval. He searches far and wide for a way to stay underwater for an hour. In the end, Dobby helps him by giving him exactly what he needed, Gillyweed to give him gills.
Anyway, needless to say Harry does well on the second trial, saving Ron from underwater merpeople. He also saves Fleur’s sister, as Fleur seemed to have gotten captured, or failed somehow. The merpeople tell the judges of his valiant actions, and his score is increased. He’s now tied with Cedric for first.
Harry goes to Dumbledore’s office after having a vision of Voldemort. Dumbledore has to search the grounds, so Harry is left in his office. Harry snoops around, finding a well of Dumbledore’s memories and losing himself in it. He’s in a memory Dumbledore had of the Death Eater trials.
I’d accuse this of being another unneeded sub-plot, but it’s actually fairly important for future books. Just not this one.
The Final Task
The last task is a maze. Harry gets through it with almost no resistance. He hears Fleur scream, apparently defeated again. He encounters a sphinx. Instead of giving him a deep, insightful riddle, Harry get’s a combination of puns instead. Later in the maze he finds Krum fighting with Cedric. Harry stuns Krum and saves Cedric, then they go their separate ways. Harry finds the cup, but is attacked by a giant spider. Cedric swoops in and the defeat it. They then grab the cup.
The cup is a portkey and it sends them to Voldemort in a cemetery. Voldemort orders his lackey, Wormtail to kill Cedric, and he does using his master’s wand. Cedric is dead. It really chilled me, I don’t like thinking back on it now. Harry gets tied up and Wormtail ties Harry to a tombstone. He makes a potion from Harry’s blood, Wormtail’s hand, and bones from Voldemort’s father.
Voldemort is revived to his true form! He summons his Death Eaters, yells at them, and then takes an infodump all over the entire chapter. (30 mins of my audiobook.) What is with the writer and having long infodumps before the final fight? Unlike in the Chamber of secrets, this one wasn’t even good! It was boring, and filled with information we already knew!
Voldy then unties Harry and challenges him to a duel. He will prove that he was not bested by a boy! He casts gunshot, I mean avada kedavra, and Harry casts something that I can’t seem to remember. The spells hit each other, and the two are locked in a kamehameha battle. Harry holds on to his beam as hard as he can. As the fight extends (and both sides do almost nothing other than hold wands and maintain their beam.) After a while, spectral images of his recent victims come out of Voldemort’s want, Cedric, then others, including Harry’s parents. Harry’s father helps him break the bind, and Cedric asks that he take his body back. Harry escapes, grabs Cedric’s body and summons the portkey using the same spell he used to get his broom in the first trial.
After he gets back, Moody takes him away in Dumbledore’s absence. This is what gives him away. Moody had been helping Harry all along. He turns to Harry angerly and prepares to kill him. Dumbledore breaks into his office and stuns him. Snape and McGonagall follow.
Turns out Moody was actually Crouch Jr. (Crouch was one of the judges, a top dog at the Ministry of Magic.) There’s another huge infodump as they interrogate him with infodump sauce. I mean truth serum. I mean Veritaserum. If you want to know what it was about, you’ll have to check out the book, or a summary. I really didn’t find it that interesting.
In the end, Harry goes home, no one believes that Voldemort is back except Dumbledore and his supporters. The Ministry of Magic’s Minister seems to be too cowardly to accept it, and so he begins the process of discrediting Dumbledore and Harry Potter via the newspaper. This thread continues into the next book.
The Antagonist’s Plot to get Harry’s Blood
Really, I have no idea what Crouch Jr. was thinking. If all he needed to resurrect “Voldetort” (as Mr Dursley called him if I’m not mistaken) was Harry Potter’s blood, he could have just stunned the boy, taken a vial, and then cast a memory charm on him.
Or maybe Voldy wanted to have him delivered so he could duel with him and prove his supremacy? Okay, that makes sense, but why enchant the cup? Why not literally use Harry’s egg? Maybe pop the enchantment on it when you pick it up on the night Harry is caught on the staircase?
The Pacing in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is even worse than that of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I can’t believe this book really, the pacing was so odd that it put me off two or three times.
This book was more emotionally impactful than the last three. The most emotional scene before this was when Sirius offered Harry a home away from the Dursleys, but that idea was killed off when Sirius was never able to prove his innocence.
Now, we can add to the list the still chilling death of Cedric.
Additionally, we can add the sheer joy felt by the reader (at least by me) when Harry Potter gave the Weasley twins his 1000 gallian prize for winning the cup.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a step backward, and I can only hope that like the Chamber of Secrets, this step back was made in order to get a running start forward toward the next book. It’s slightly better than Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, so I give it a 67/100. I hope that as I continue I don’t keep finding every even numbered book to be so off.
You might have noticed my reviews have gotten longer and more in depth. That’s because I’ve started taking more notes, I take this pocket notebook (NOT an affiliate) to work with me and jot a note any time something sticks out to me.