It’s no secret that I’m a total and complete potterhead. I read the first book at the age of nine or ten, fell in love around age twelve, and when the last book came out it was about a month after my 17th birthday. I’m of the Potter Generation and grew up with Harry, and he has a special place in my heart even though I don’t list J. K. Rowling among my favourite authors (anymore). It’s practically all my tween and teen years. Yes, I’ve always been into other fandoms as well, but Harry Potter is the one I’m most comfortable with. A book has never made me cry like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did.
However, the seventh book is not my favourite. The favourite ranking inside the series varies, but number one is always the same.
J. K. ROWLING: HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
Published: July 8th 1999 Bloomsbury (UK)/ Scholastic (US)
Pages: 317 (UK) / 435 (US)
I think it’s not exactly necessary to summarise the book here, so I won’t. If you haven’t read the series, but are going to and don’t want to get spoiled, don’t read any further. I’m not going to be cautious about details or what happens in the latter books.
About a year ago I admitted to myself I’ve grown out of the first two books. It’s perfectly obvious why people older than me never fell in love with Harry the way people my age did. But the third book is getting more mature, if only slightly. It’s not nearly as dark as the fourth one, no, but it’s not as straightforward as the first two. It’s the calm before the storm. Voldemort is not seen in person; Harry learns new things about his parents and their lives; he meets new people who have a previous connection to him.
The characters are what make me a very biased judge of this book. Remus Lupin is the biggest literary crush I’ve ever had, and honey, it’s still on. He’s a good man who has suffered a lot, and in this book I believe we witness some of the best things that have happened to him in thirteen years, maybe even more. He gets a job, he meets the son of some of his best friends, and gets his living best friends back. Okay, so the friendship situation is more complicated than that with Peter and things finally coming together and making sense about the Fidelius Charm, but anyway. I’m very partial to the Marauders, who are introduced in this book. That’s one of the things that endear this particular book to me.
Mr Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.
Mr Prongs agrees with Mr Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.
Mr Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a Professor.
Mr Worm tail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.
It’s very hard to pinpoint the reasons for my love of this book. I’m just utterly comfortable with it. It has a neat plot. I don’t know it all by heart anymore, not the way I used to, but close enough so I can only look at details while reading if I want to. There are all the tensions and relationships between the adult characters that weren’t much there in the first two books. It’s just delicious.
For a course on audiovisual culture and society, I wrote an essay on fandom. Initially the chosen fandom was Harry Potter, and I managed a couple of pages before it became evident a change of fandom was in order. I’m in too deep, and it’s hard to see anything to do with Potter objectively. That’s how it is with this book, and the reason why this introduction/explanation is so short. I recognise that it’s not the most brilliant prose since Austen or Wilde. I’m well aware that it’s not the most intellectual book ever. But it is a part of a great story, and a cornerstone in my becoming a fantasy reader.
Oh, and rereading the series after the last book is an exciting and emotional experience. I can heartily recommend it. You keep noticing the little details that will be significant later on.
Besides, I read somewhere that rereading is good for your brain.