I’m glad I re-read this book. It’s never been one of my favorites, but there are so many moments that are great in it to sort of make up for the things I don’t like. But before I delve in, I want to say Tom started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone last night! I think he’s enjoying it and he’s about 70 pages in! (And we’re already discussing a movie marathon of all the films – which we would’ve done regardless of whether he decided to read them. :-D
However, don’t get me wrong, Harry is a whinny little git in this novel. And it’s almost enough to put me off from wanting to re-read it EVER, but like I said I’m glad I did. I get he’s a teenager, I mean I’m still a moody git and I’m well out of my teens, but come on Harry use your head. The world doesn’t revolve around you! All these other people have lives and fears and hopes and dreams! There are so many great characters (both good and evil-ish) introduced in this novel you can’t help but love it and I have to remind myself of that or let Harry’s whinging override the good in this novel.
By far the best character (character wise, not good-wise) introduced is Delores Umbridge. I don’t think anyone out there can love her as a person, but as a character she is brilliant! She’s not evil, per-say, but her views on the world are so Draconian, that she may as well be in league with Voldemort. The difference is that, whether good or evil, I feel Umbridge would go with whoever was in power and take that to such an extreme that it would be difficult for anyone to like her. She does her job, she does it by the book and this comes across as rather evil, especially to the hundreds of teens cooped up in Hogwarts!
In addition to Umbridge, we meet Nymphodora Tonks, Mundungus Fletcher and Arabella Figg and a bunch of other colorful characters. Tonks is clearly my favorite, for reasons told later in the story, but the one that gets me every time is Mrs. Figg! I will NEVER forget when I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire realizing that Dumbledore mentions Mrs. Figg! It seriously shook my world that Rowling had dropped hints like that. I mean up until then we’d only realized she was the crazy cat lady that looked after Harry. When I found that out I was like OMG what in the world is going to happen in Book 5. And although she only makes brief appearances, she definitely makes an impact.
What I think this book does better than any of the other books so far is that it brings the coming troubles closer to home. I won’t say what happens, but with the frustrated Harry and the return of Voldemort, things get dark fast. However, with the darkness there are definitely moments of lightness and humor! I mean come-on Ron’s reactions to Ginny’s various boyfriends, Peeves (I’m still grumpy they took him out) and McGonagle helping him out !, and Fred and George – WOW!
Recommendation: Although this isn’t my favorite and I honestly would’ve said it was one of my least favorites, I’m glad I re-read it. It’s dark and somewhat disturbing, but it introduces some amazing characters and constantly tugs at your emotions (hello, Longbottom’s anyone?!). It’s definitely in the top half of the series in my non-existent I like/don’t like this book rankings.
Opening Line: “The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.”
Closing Line: “Instead he smiled, raised a hand in farewell, turned around, and led the way out of the station toward the sunlit street, with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley hurrying along in his wake.” (Whited out.)