Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
By: J.K. Rowling
Published By: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: July 1999
Page Count: 317
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Middle Grades/Young Adult - Fantasy
Reading this series is like snuggling under a blanket when its cold outside. I find it immensely comforting.
This time around I read with a slightly better attention to detail, I think, and found myself posing all sorts of questions to mull over when I couldn't read the books... Are all departments at Hogwarts staffed by just one teacher? How do they cope with all the marking? Do they have automatic marking quills, like Rita Skeeter's Quick Quotes Quill? If Prof. McGonagall has to come into Gryfindor Tower in her nightgown, where does she sleep and how does she make sure the Gryffindors ever get to sleep? Maybe they don't... Why on Earth would anyone let such a bright student as Hermione burn herself out that much? These are the musings, obviously, of a teacher. (I would give body parts to be able to teach at Hogwarts.) Let's be fair, Hogwarts would be amazing and the best teacher there (this year) is Prof Lupin, stealing the crown from Prof McG.
I think one of the things that makes this book, widely regarded to be one of the best in the series, so great, is the empowerment of the students in Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. It is amazing to see Neville defeat Prof (Boggart) Snape and so interesting to read about the different weird and wonderful creatures. Never had I wanted so badly to be back at school. I thought it was very skillfully written too, weaving all the signs of werewolfism into the narrative, so that once you know what's going on, it is obvious, but until you do, mystifying.
There is so much to love about this book; the wizarding world expands with the introduction of Hogsmead and the Shrieking Shack, and Azkaban is given a little more detail. We learn about boggarts, hinkpunks, kappas, dementors and patronuses... it is seriously magical. Harry kicks Malfoy's butt, saves the day and passes his exams... it is a truly triumphant year.
The only thing that jibes with me a bit about HP&tPOA is the crazy behaviour of Sirius while we still think he is an escaped murderer, out to get Harry. He walks a line between being off his rocker and very lucid a little too finely for me, but Harry's joy at the thought of escaping the Dursley's is palpable and I can see why it would wash away his doubts about Sirius slightly.
I've also always felt that I could do without the Buckbeak storyline, which may be a little controversial... It didn't add a lot for me really, except for giving a way to rescue Sirius in the end and giving Draco Malfoy an excuse to be a odious little toad again (apologies Trevor). I loved the Firebolt storyline though and I think the bit I love the most about that is Oliver Wood's sheer desperation over it!
Despite the potential for plot holes, this remains one of my absolute favourites. From blowing up Aunt Marge to Hermione telling Trelawny to get lost; its full of rebellious spirit and fun!
Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can't wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn't if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There's an escaped mass murderer on the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school...