Potter fever is ramping up this year thanks to two exciting new projects: the eighth story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be debuting in London's West End on July 30 and the first in a new movie trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will hit theaters in November. In preparation, I decided to revisit my most beloved series and blog about it. (Besides, I don't really need an excuse to reread Harry Potter.)
I received Prisoner of Azkaban as a Christmas gift probably in the year of 1999. I know for sure I had it before the fourth book came out. I had seen the third book in a department store, displayed along with Chamber of Secrets and I begged my mom to buy them for me. She refused, eventually telling me that she had already bought the books for me for Christmas. She gave me the second book early so I would stop pestering her for them but I had to wait until Christmas to finally read Prisoner of Azkaban. (It never once occurred to me to take the books out of the library. But it was definitely worth the wait.) Finally, Christmas morning came and I got to unwrap Prisoner of Azkaban. I had told my mother I would act super-surprised and being a kid, I went a bit over the top. I jumped around, squealing like a pig on ecstasy and hugged my mom while whispering in her ear, 'See? I told you I would act surprised.' I thought I was so smooth. And thinking back on it now, why did I think it was necessary to act surprised? I'm sure none of my other family members cared whether I knew about the book ahead of time. Man, I was a dumb kid. But I loved the book when I read it for the first time.
Things I Noticed This Time Around
-This is more of an observation, but I wholeheartedly believe that the Dursleys would support Donald Trump
-In one of the newspaper articles about the hunt for Sirius Black, the International Federation of Warlocks is mentioned, hinting at a global wizarding world. Is this a sort of wizard United Nations?
-One of the more stark contrasts between Harry and the Dursleys is how they relate to material things. The Dursleys are obsessed with material things and status symbols and always want to have the newest and the best. Harry, while sometimes tempted by material things, like the Firebolt, is rational about his purchases and spends his money wisely. He decides not to buy the Firebolt because he has a perfectly good broom already. It reminds me how most people are obsessed with having the newest and best technology, like the latest smartphone or a big television. Personally, I think Harry's approach is the best one.
-I've never appreciated Ron's character as much before this read through. I think Ron gets a lot of flak but I think it's because people think of movie-Ron and not book-Ron. In the books, Ron is supportive of his friends, has moments of incredible insight, and is hilarious. In the movies, he mostly serves as the comic relief as some sort of clueless fall guy and all of the great ideas he has in the books get transferred to Hermione in the films. This makes me sort of angry because Ron is actually an amazing character who experiences his own character arc and isn't just there to be Harry Potter's best friend.
-Okay, Snape is a real dick in the third book. I've never been quite sure if he knew that it was Peter Pettigrew and not Sirius Black who was the Potters' Secret Keeper. I don't think he did because even Dumbledore didn't know until Harry, Ron, and Hermione revealed the truth to him. And if Snape did know that Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper, wouldn't he have told Dumbledore? So my conclusion is that Snape only knew that the Potters were in danger but he didn't know who the spy was. It would be a good strategy for Voldemort to not have his spies know about each other. So when it was revealed that Sirius 'betrayed' the Potters, Snape believed that Sirius was partly responsible for Lily's death and that's why he has this incredible hostility to both Black and Lupin, because he believes Lupin is in league with Black and has been helping him into the castle.
-When Ron attempts to use the 'fellytone' at the beginning of the book and he and Uncle Vernon end up screaming at each other over the phone
-the scene in Flourish and Blotts with the cage full of The Monster Book of Monsters. So creative and really funny
-Sir Cadogan leading Harry, Ron, and Hermione to the Divination classroom
-the description of Honeydukes (pg. 147) is to die for. My mouth starts watering every time I read it!
Prisoner of Azkaban marks a turning point in the Harry Potter series. It's darker, more mature and really sets the tone for the rest of the series. Some of my favorite characters are introduced in this book, including Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. (And Crookshanks, of course.) I appreciate that J.K. Rowling took some risks with this book like working time travel into the plot. Prisoner of Azkaban feels really unique in the series and I always enjoy revisiting it.