Book 177: Harry Potter 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (again)

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter #7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling (again!)

First review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

As I wrote in my second post on “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” I’ve gotten quite into the HP online fandom. And I’ve inevitably decided to do some writing for it, and have been reading the later HP books to review some information for myself.

And, too, because how could I not read “The Deathly Hallows” after finishing “The Half-Blood Prince?!” Snape…I love his character so much. The end of this book has some of my favorite scenes ever, I think.

Every time I finish “The Deathly Hallows,” I’m reminded of just how well-crafted the Harry Potter series is. Every single book reflects on every other book; I could wax poetic about it forever. And I definitely have been, lately!

5/5.

Book 176: Harry Potter 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (again)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceHarry Potter #6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling (again!)

First review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

So, in my quest of all things Harry Potter, I’ve recently discovered the fandom online. It’s huge! I can’t believe I didn’t get into it earlier, honestly. I’m a bit miffed with myself – I think I missed out on some great things.

As you may have seen me mention before, I’ve gotten slightly obsessed with fanfiction, and have been reading a LOT of it over the past few weeks. And now I’ve decided to write my own…heh heh.

So I needed to re-read “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” to get some scene-setting information for my first fic, and also because I finally watched the movie – and LOVED it. I had been watching a movie a night, and I wasn’t impressed by the first few, but the last three really blew me away. Especially “Half-Blood Prince;” I think it is one of my favorite movies now. I had to read the book after watching it, because I was trying to figure out why the scene of Bellatrix burning the Barrow was put in the movie. I still don’t know why, but I think that “Half-Blood Prince” is also becoming one of my favorite books. Narcissa and Bellatrix sum it up for me!

I said in my first review that this book just gets better and better each time I read it, and I echo that this time around.

5/5, again.

Book 161: Mapping the World of Harry Potter

Mapping the World of Harry PotterMapping the World of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Exploration of the Bestselling Fantasy Series of All Time, edited by Mercedes Lackey

Complete through book six, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” this collection of essays takes a look at why and how the Harry Potter series appeals or angers people. There are essays on religion, education, politics, feminism, and more.

“Mapping the World of Harry Potter” mostly added to my enjoyment of J. K. Rowling’s series; some of the essays gave me a lot to think about for the next time I reread the series.

Here is a list of the essays:
-Harry Potter and the Young Man’s Mistake, by Daniel P. Moloney
-The Dursleys as Social Commentary, by Roberta Gellis
-To Sir, With Love, by Joyce Millman
-Harry Potter and the End of Religion, by Marguerite Krause
-It’s All About God, by Elisabeth DeVos
-Hermione Granger and the Charge of Sexism, by Sarah Zettel
-Neville Longbottom: The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Martha Wells
-Why Dumbledore Had to Die, by Lawrence Watt-Evans
-From Azkaban to Abu Ghraib, by Adam-Troy Castro
-Ich Bin Ein Hufflepuff, by Susan R. Matthews
-Harry Potter as Schooldays Novel, by James Gunn
-Harry Potter and the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Counselor, by Mercedes Lackey
-The Proper Wizard’s Guide to Good Manners, by Roxanne Longstreet Conrad
-Why Killing Harry Is the Worst Outcome for Voldemort, by Richard Garfinkle

While “Mapping Harry Potter” was written before the publication of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the essays are still worthwhile reading. All are authored by writers of science fiction and fantasy novels, and I plan to check out the work of several of the contributors.

I think my favorite was “To Sir, With Love,” an essay on fanfiction and Professor Snape. I appreciated Joyce Millman’s wit and humor, and I think I’ll look up a few of the stories mentioned. I also enjoyed “Harry Potter as Schooldays Novel,” which gave history on the tradition of British schooldays novels. I had heard Harry Potter referred to as that, but had no clue what it meant. Now I do, and it’s a subgenre I plan to learn more about. I found “Why Killing Harry is the Worst Outcome for Voldemort” particularly clever, and something only the mind of a science fiction writer could create.

“The Proper Wizard’s Guide to Good Manners” was my least favorite; I don’t really see it as an essay but more fiction, and was a bit baffled while reading it.

I would recommend this for adult readers looking to expand their knowledge or thoughts on Harry, as some of the subject matter and language levels are above young fans.

4/5.

Book 157: Harry Potter 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (again)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter #3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling (again!)

First review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Although this book in the HP series is one of my least favorites, I do enjoy rereading it. Sirius Black is one of the characters I’m fond of, and I like so much how he’s introduced – first as a bad bad guy, then shown to be a good good guy.

Professor Lupin is another of the characters I like, and I always delight in reading passages with him. It’s ironic that the first good Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Hogwarts has had is a werewolf. I like how Rowling’s trying to show tolerance with Lupin and his “little furry problem” – or at least, I think she is. That’s one of the reasons I love HP so much – you can read it on different levels, and make your own interpretations.

4/5, again.

Book 146: Harry Potter 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (again)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter #2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J. K. Rowling (again!)

First review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Well, after finishing “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for the second time this month, it’s no surprise I went right to the next book in the series. As I’ve said before, I can finish a book in this series and pick it right back up a minute later, and enjoy it just the same as if months had gone by since my last reading.

Not much to say that I haven’t already covered in my first review…I did end up watching the film version of the book, and wanted to slap Lockhart through the TV screen! Such a great character to love to hate.

And the first introduction to Tom Riddle…

4/5, again.

Book 155: Harry Potter 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (again)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter #1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling (again!)

First review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I’m in quite a re-reading cycle – I can’t seem to quit reading Harry! I think Harry Potter would be my desert island series – I can finish a book, and pick it right back up to re-read minutes later.

This time around, after finishing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” I wanted to return to a happier time in the HP universe and remember the uncomplicatedness and joy of the first books in the series. Plus I wanted to look for clues to the ending of the series in the first book, and found a few. Mmm.

5/5, again.

Book 151: Harry Potter 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter #7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling departs from the traditional style of the previous six books in the finale of the series; instead of a year at Hogwarts, she sends Harry, Ron, and Hermione on a long and hard journey to confront Voldemort.

I think it’d be quite difficult to ably end such a successful, amazing series, but Rowling does pretty well with “The Deathly Hallows.” There are plenty of plot summaries for the book so I’m not going to write one. I will just say I had no idea how she could end the series, and I was able to read the book with no thoughts on what I wanted to happen, and I was very surprised, entertained, and happy with the ending.

As with all of the later Harry books (“Order of the Phoenix” and “The Half-Blood Prince”), I enjoy volume seven more each time I read it. I continually discover new details, and marvel at the author’s foresight in including little clues in each book in the series. Just wow.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione each experience a lot of growth in this book, becoming adults while they hunt for Voldemort. Their emotional struggles are balanced perfectly against the backdrop of war and fear in the wizarding world. The tone is pretty dark, so keep some tissues nearby.

I’m having a difficult time writing down my thoughts for “The Deathly Hallows,” so I will just end and say this: read it.

5/5.

Book 148: Quidditch Through the Ages

Quidditch Through the AgesQuidditch Through the Ages, by J. K. Rowling

The second reproduction of a Hogwarts book, “Quidditch Through the Ages” was written by J. K. Rowling for Britain’s Comic Relief charity. A foreword by Albus Dumbledore introduces the book to wizards and Muggles alike, warning readers to be wary of any book jinxes from the Hogwarts librarian, Madam Pince.

This is probably my favorite sports book of all time, and I enjoy reading it each time I reread the Harry Potter series. There are several nice little touches that I appreciate, from a list of book borrowers (including Harry, Ron, and Hermione), to praise for the book from the Daily Prophet and Which Broomstick.

“Quidditch Through the Ages” is a quick, but complete overview of the wizard sport, and covers its formation, famous teams, famous moves and players, and even a list of the 10 most common fouls. But Rowling doesn’t stop there, and also writes about the history of the broomstick as a form of wizard transportation, and even gives readers a quick rundown on famous broomstick companies. There’s a lot packed into the 56 pages.

If you were ever curious about Quidditch, this is the book for you. Like its counterpart, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Quidditch Through the Ages” is cute, slim, and perfect for Harry lovers everywhere. I just wish more of Harry’s schoolbooks were available!

4/5.

Book 147: Harry Potter 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceHarry Potter #6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling

The first time I read “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” I don’t remember liking it all that much. After “Order of the Phoenix,” it just seemed less complex, shorter, and…I can’t quite remember. But for me, “Half-Blood Prince,” like “Order of the Phoenix,” is a book that gets better and better each time I read it.

I’ve also read online that J. K. Rowling considers “Half-Blood Prince” and “Deathly Hallows” as two parts of the same book, and when I keep that in mind, I like “Half-Blood Prince” even more.

The Ministry of Magic has finally been forced to acknowledge that Voldemort is back. Harry, Ron, and Hermione scan The Daily Prophet for names of his newest victims, and even Muggles are starting to notice mysterious deaths and weird disasters.

Professor Dumbledore takes Harry under his wing, finally answering some of the questions Harry has had for years. In private lessons, Dumbledore recounts Voldemort’s history as Tom Riddle and his rise as a Dark wizard. Harry learns about Horcruxes, magical objects that are the key to Voldemort’s immortality. Finding and destroying Horcruxes becomes the main focus of this and the last book in the series.

In their sixth year at Hogwarts, the gang balances the fear of Voldemort’s return, a new Potions teacher, and put up with Snape as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry’s hormones start to kick in, and while he realizes he likes Ginny Weasley, he’s hesitant to date her as her brother is his best friend. And with the help of an old Potions textbook, Harry becomes a superstar in a subject he once hated.

For me the best part of “Half-Blood Prince” is learning Voldemort’s backstory, as well as the shift of the series into a more adult tone. There is a lot going on in this book (as in all Harry Potter books), and a few more questions posed. Make sure you can readily get “Deathly Hallows,” because you’ll be rushing for it after finishing “Half-Blood Prince.”

5/5.

Book 146: Harry Potter 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter #5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J. K. Rowling

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is a massive book, no doubt about it. It’s long, it’s heavy, and it’s chock full of Harry Potter goodness. I’ve reread it several times, and enjoy it more every time – I think it’s one of those books that just gets better and better. In all those readings never have I thought, “this book is too long.” So maybe if you’ve tried it and not liked it, I urge you to give this book another try.

The tone of “The Order of the Phoenix” is much darker than previous Harry novels, and Harry himself is no longer the happy wizard-in-training readers have known. He’s an angry, brooding, hormonal, struggling teenager, enduring his worst year ever at Hogwarts. For the Ministry of Magic refuses to believe that Voldemort is back, and has labeled both Harry and Albus Dumbledore as crazy.

The first month of his summer vacation was absolute misery: confined to Privet Drive, Harry heard nothing from the wizarding world about Voldemort. Only when dementors attack him, in the middle of Little Whinging, does Harry get thrown back into his world, but not in the way he wanted – for summoning a Patronus to defend himself, he’s in danger of being expelled from Hogwarts.

But when Harry overcomes that hurdle, and the school year starts again, he’s in for a nasty shock. The Ministry, afraid that Dumbledore may use his students as an army, decides to take control of Hogwarts. Dolores Umbridge is appointed as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and through a series of education decrees eventually becomes the headmistress of the school. She’s one despicable character, who gets her jollies from sacking professors and making students thoroughly miserable. Her teaching is useless, as she and the Ministry believe in defensive magic only; she won’t even allow students to practice counterjinxes or counterspells.

Umbridge isn’t the only blight on Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. He also has to deal with O.W.L.s, or Ordinary Wizarding Levels, the exams fifth year students take that determine their future careers. The stress level is extraordinary, and Harry doesn’t even have Quidditch for relief… And that’s just the start of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

As I said at the beginning of this review, I really do think this book gets better each time you read it. The first time, you’re reading mainly for the plot, but the second time you start to pick up on the subtleties and twists and turns and intrigue. Characters from previous novels such as Neville Longbottom, Professor Lupin, and Sirius Black are back, and they are all newly important in their own way. Bits of previous novels suddenly become more important as well, such as why Dumbledore wouldn’t answer all of Harry’s questions after his first encounter with Voldemort in “The Sorcerer’s Stone.”

My only real annoyance with “The Order of the Phoenix” is how Rowling described Umbridge as a toad over and over…and over and over again. I was really sick of it after what felt like twenty times. But that’s just a personal quibble, probably due to how much I detested Umbridge. Such an evil rotter!

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be frustrated. Your opinion of some characters may change. You’ll be hungry to know what will happen in the last two Harry books. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is an excellent read.

5/5.