Okay, I know that for about ten second you all are going to be like, “hasn’t she made her feelings on this perfectly clear?” and the answer is yes, yes I have. However I have never done a definitive book review. So this is it. I didn’t bother to specify which one because at first I was just going to do the series as a whole. However, I have decided I’d rather review my favorite book out of them all. Okay, take ten seconds to guess, maybe bet some people….this review will be on *unenthusiastic drum roll* it’s a tie. Sorry for that, I thought I could pick between my two favorites but it turns out I cannot. It will be on Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix. So let’s get started.
Prisoner of Azkaban:
Okay, so I’m pretty sure everyone knows the story. Harry hears the Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban (which we think never happened before but we find out in GoF that’s wrong). Not only that, we learn that Sirius Black is the one who betrayed Harry’s parents. As if this news could get no worse, he is Harry’s godfather. Not going to lie, Harry is extremely full of angst in this one and OotP, so he’s not really my favorite in either of these. However, we meet Remus Lupin for the first time in this book, and he is one of my favorite male characters from this series. We also meet Sirius for the first time and see the beginning of Neville’s confidence building. This book also has one of Ron’s best moments, which was ruined when the movie decided to give it to Hermione and it didn’t hold the same weight. Not to mention, the movie giving Hermione all of Ron’s lines is probably part of the reason people don’t remember what a good person and friend Ron was. Anyway, these are just a few of the reasons I enjoyed PoA so much. I mean, we get a better look at what type of people Harry’s parents were, which is something I think Harry needed very much. We get to see a beaten and bruised Ron stand up to two potential killers and be willing to defend his friend to the death. We get to meet and learn about Remus Lupin, who also introduces us to the Patronus. Dementors infest Hogwarts and the Ministry starts to become a real problem. Honestly, PoA is sort of the beginning of all Harry’s more adult problems. Up until this point (yes, the whole two books before) Harry was thinking so small scale constantly. The villain is always in the school and a Slytherin, and what’s going on outside the walls of Hogwarts wasn’t even on his radar. He never even thought to ask about more of the wizarding world besides Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. This book, for me, was the beginning of more mature story lines. That’s why I enjoyed it so much.
Order of the Phoenix:
Okay, once again we’ll do just a quick blurb about plot. The Order of the Phoenix is formed. Harry is super angry at everyone. Sirius won’t stop being reckless. We meet Kreacher, a house elf with blood supremacy ideal…the first one we’ve ever met and a big change from Dobby and Winky. We meet Tonks and Luna for the first time. We learn some very important information about Neville and his family. The Ministry interferes at Hogwarts in the most invasive way yet. Dumbledore is removed and Umbridge is brought in. Dumbledore’s Army is formed, but so is the Inquisitorial Squad. We learn more about the centaurs in the Forbidden Forrest. We meet Hagrid’s half-brother. Then, perhaps most importantly, we get the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Harry’s failed Occlumency lessons and a look into the past of Severus Snape. Everything that I have mentioned is so important to this story as it goes on as well as the one that takes place in this book alone. Harry has to face some hard truths about his father. That being said, I do not agree with the mentality of many Potterheads who immediately place James in the irredeemably evil category. I don’t even understand that mentality to be honest. I also enjoyed learning about Neville more than we have all the previous books. It gives such better understanding of the character. Luna, who some of you will know as my favorite character from the series, is finally introduced. She is integral to the story very early on. Providing Harry with reassurances when it seems even some of his friends think he’s crazy and helping everyone think outside the box. She also provides us with one of the best examples we’ve gotten of one of Hermione’s biggest flaws. See, I enjoy this because many fans treat Hermione as flawless, but that’s not true. She’s got flaws just like the rest of them and her treatment of Luna proves it. That flaw, of course, is her habit of being exceptionally close-minded (please note I have not said that I hate her or even dislike her, I’m just pointing out that she does have flaws). I didn’t realize how hard it would be to explain why I love this one so much. So much happens and yet, even if I talk about it for another hour it won’t be enough to explain everything.
The basic overview of my feelings for these two is that, some of the most important moments of Harry’s life take place in these two books. Most importantly, they are by his own doing. In most of the other books, people are manipulating him into doing what they want, but in these two, Harry saves himself or is the downfall of someone he truly cares about. In these two there is so much doubt and confusion and he is forced to question what he thinks he knows. I just always felt like PoA and OotP were two very big turning points, not just for Harry, but for us as readers.