I first read Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling in 2008, a few months before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie was to be released. A late bloomer, I know. Shortly after the first Harry Potter movie was released when I was only young, my mum showed me the book and asked if I wanted to buy and read it. I read the first few sentences and said ‘no’. And who can blame me? As an avid and loving fan of the series I have to say the first sentence “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”, though intriguing, wasn’t a very good one. It wasn’t until I watched the first five movies and wanted some background information that I began to read the series. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.
The first two books in the series (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) I found to be very simple, short and all round, books designed for children. This, of course, makes sense as I like to think the books are designed for readers the same age as Harry. This would mean the first two books were for children aged from 11 to 12 years old. Despite this, I enjoyed the notion of a secret, magical world that is hidden in our own that we, as muggles, have no knowledge of. I also like the fact that we learn about this magical world along with Harry; Rowling doesn’t assume that we know things about her created world like some other authors do.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is definitely a step up from the first two books, in fact, it is one of my favourite books in the series. The introduction of dementors gives the novel a much darker feel than the previous two. I feel that Rowling’s writing takes a big step forward in the novel, as well. She begins to write for an older audience. One of the reasons why this is a favourite of mine is because it’s the book in which we learn more about James’ school life, who his friends were (Lupin, Sirius and Wormtail) and who is really was who betrayed James and Lily to Voldemort. It is very much a novel that introduces character from outside of Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire starts off with a bang. Voldemort instantly plays a much bigger part in the series from this point onwards. I really enjoyed this book mainly because of the added danger that Harry is in; the Triwizard Tournament and Voldemort. In this novel we are given our first death (Cedric Diggory) and beneath the Triwizard Tournament there is the constant undertone of danger. This is the book in which we find out how horrible life was when Voldemort reined.
“The terror it inspired… you have no idea, you’re too young. Just picture coming home, and finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, and knowing what you’re about to find inside… Everyone’s worst fear… the very worst…” – Arthur Weasley
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix I found was not as dark as its predecessor. Being the largest book in the series, it has a lot going on in it; the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore’s Army, the prophesy, Voldemort’s return etc. I enjoyed this book a lot but when I look back on it I find it hard to put events in the correct order because was so much that happened. I think it dramatically expanded the wizarding world in London with the introduction of the Ministry of Magic; a place where politics occur. Politics plays a much larger role in this novel, as does censorship and the importance of public opinion. This book is the first where an actual battle occurs; the Order of the Phoenix against the Death Eaters. It is also the novel in which a very lovable character is killed.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince starts off brilliantly! I love the interaction between Fudge and the muggle prime-minister which according to Rowling was a long time in the making. This was the first Harry Potter book I read before seeing the movie.I like to describe this novel as the information novel. Not a lot of action occurs in this book (except at the end) but in it we find out so much. We learn about horcruxes and pretty much everything about Voldemort’s past. I drank up this information like a fish and despite the fact that the novel wasn’t very exciting action-wise, it was definitely interesting. The ending of the novel is such a shock that one of my friends actually threw her book across the room when she finished it! I personally couldn’t believe it. I think there would have been very few people who finished this novel without hating Severus Snape. I would have to say this book ended on the largest cliffhanger of all the other novels.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is my other favourite novel in the series, although it was the only novel that I grew bored while reading. Thankfully, this was only for a short time and the rest of the novel is full of new information, excitement, romance and very dark themes. I wouldn’t be able to list all the people who died in this novel because there are too many, and each one brought a pang of sadness. The ending of it is amazing. I am very picky when it comes to the ending of books (especially series) but I think Rowling did this perfectly. The mixture of happiness and grief after the battle, and the epilogue that gave just enough information about our golden trio. I especially love in the novel the explanation of Snape’s past and his story.
This series is such a great story which shows the power of good over evil, the importance of friendship and family, the downfalls of greed and feelings of loss. I was so impacted by this series that for a while after I finished it, I even had trouble saying Voldemort’s name! It’s one of the few series that made be laugh and cry while reading it, and still does. It’s no wonder so many people love it.
Favourite character: Severus Snape
Least favourite character: Lavender Brown
Favourite part: The chapter called ‘The Prince’s Tale’ which explains Snape’s story
Least favourite part: Some of the camping scenes in Deathly Hallows
Rating; 4.5/5 stars