Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)
Author: J.K. Rowling
Published: 1999
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Synopsis: Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It’s assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney’s ghoulish predictions seriously?

My Rating: red-starred-starred-starred-starred-star

It is no secret that this is many people’s favorite Harry Potter book. I had not read this particular book in at least a decade and it was incredibly refreshing to reread it after being so long separated from the world. I think this is the first book in series that the movies do it no justice and it never can because this is when Rowling begins the intricacies of the plot that extends through the rest of the series narrative. Movie-only fans only get the surface of the true occurrences of this book.

Despite this book being many fans favorite this was actually one that I did not hold particularly close to my heart. Rereading it as an adult I have garnered more appreciation for it than I did before.

I posted in my goodreads account how in this book Snape’s hatred for Harry blossoms to spectacular new levels and it generated a bit of controversy because I’ve mentioned before, I am not a Snape apologist. It’s not that I hate him and I think he’s a bad character (poorly written) on the contrary – I think Rowling does a stellar job of embodying the antagonism in the form of Snape. Snape in this book is in his early to mid 30s which is roughly my own age (we shall not be discussing that, friends) and his behavior is utterly despicable. I really don’t give a fuck who he loved, his love is as strong as his hate and that to me makes him an interesting character, for sure, but a bad character for certain. It’s terrible because his hate it aimed at a 13 year old boy. Snape is a product of his childhood – he was bullied and now at age 33 (ish) he bullies his students. I think we as readers sometimes forget Harry’s age because he’s such a strong character and he’s not a pacifist. He does so much – save the world even before he’s out of his teens so we have a tendency to “adultify” him. At the end of the day he’s still 13, freshly turned and he’s still a child who grew up in an emotionally abusive home. Snape’s hate for his father and Remus/Sirius is so great that it eclipses his own common sense as an adult. So I guess the question I pose is how exactly does he differ from the Dursleys? Both parties unjustly manifest the hate for his parents towards Harry, in different capacities but for certain with the same intensity. I say this because keep in mind that up until this book Voldermort is presumed dead so despite Snape not having to pretend to like Harry, he does develop a malicious vendetta towards Harry. (and he’s just awful to Hermione and Neville – without cause I might add as Lily had nothing to do with either)

Enough about Snape, on to the rest. Each time I read the books I am slapped in the face by Book!Ron and how awesome he is and what little was done for him in the movies which always sadden me because he’s one of my faves. Hermione is at her all time tense which I love and the battle of Scabbers and Crookshanks highlight how stubborn she can also be. And poor Harry, always in the middle of their wars, makes for great comic relief.

I really enjoy my reread and I’m SO excited to get to the Goblet of Fire because that is my favorite book from the series. Also, this is the last book I label as middlegrade, from now on the books turn YA.

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