It’s no secret that Harry Potter is my all-time favorite book series, so that’s why I figured it’s the perfect series to start my book reviews with. I am currently re-reading through them again. I don’t even know what count I am on anymore, I have read them so many times. Seriously, at least 10 times, probably more. I have seen the movies so much I can recite the entire thing. I listen to the soundtrack daily and could hear a song and tell you what it’s called, which movie it’s from, and what is happening at that time. Obsessed? Never.
This could easily be me:
As an overall book series, there are so many reasons that I am totally captivated with the wizarding world. And part of that is because it is such a captivating world. When I read these books, I feel like I am there. I am walking the halls of Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Their lives, their troubles and triumphs, their feelings are mine. No matter what kind of day I am having, when I pick up my Harry Potter books, I Apparate right into the wizarding world again.
Real Life Issues
There are so many real-life issues that occur during the series. The emotions and struggles the characters go through are all things that we can relate to in one way or another. They deal with friendships, emotions, fears, relationships, politics, death, popularity and being different, unconditional love, among many others. Everything the characters go through, are all very realistic and always within the realm of possibility for anyone and everyone. Even though we aren’t all witches and wizards, we are still human and still relate to all the ups and downs that come with being human.
In addition to the real-life themes, we can all relate to the school life as well. We’ve all had those teachers we love (Lupin), and those we love to hate (Umbridge). We’ve all dealt with that teacher who doesn’t let you get away with anything (McGonagall), and those that play obvious favorites (Snape). The students at Hogwarts worry about their sporting events and their exams. They have to deal with essays and homework assignments and projects. Hogwarts is the setting for the series, though most of the story isn’t directly related with school happenings, it still is a common ground that we have all been through.
Readers of All Ages
I have seen people from barely old enough to read, to people in a walker reading Harry Potter. I started reading them in middle school and haven’t stopped. As soon as my boys are just a little older, we plan to start reading the books with them. They already know the music because I listen to it so often. I found this article that has a pretty good timeline of the appropriate age to let your children read the books and watch the movies.
Well Planned Series/Foreshadowing
J.K. Rowling seems to have had a pretty good idea of her overall plot when she started writing. I’m sure some things changed here and there throughout her writing, but if you look at all the foreshadowing and subtle hints you can tell she knew where she was heading. Every time I read through the books again, I find another tiny detail that is usually overlooked, but that leads to something a few books later. It amazes me how much she had planned and all the small tidbits she includes that lead to it all.
Supernatural is Possible
While yes, these books are a supernatural/fantastical setting, it always feels like it is possible, even probable. The descriptions make you feel like you are there, and the mix of the muggle and magic world seems like its always a possibility. There is just enough of the magic in the books to make it feel, well, magical. But also enough reality that you don’t feel completely taken out of everything either.
I feel like I can’t really do a review of the Harry Potter series justice without a quick review on each of the books.
Yes, I am in the U.S. so I read the Sorcerer’s Stone, not the Philosopher’s Stone. Of all the books in the series, this is definitely the lightest, but it is a perfect introduction to the entire book series. This book touches on some dark themes, such as the death of Harry’s parents, but it doesn’t go into any details, keeping it appropriate for younger readers. Harry Potter starts like many other series, with a small orphan living with his mean family. I love this book because it is our first look at the wonderful magical world and everything is new. Everything is fun. Everything is just….. magical.
Chamber of Secrets
Chamber is interesting because it adds a bit of mystery into the series, and adds a little more darkness into the series. It’s still light enough for your younger readers to be able to handle, and in my opinion, is probably the dullest book in the series. There are some scenes that seem drawn out or almost unnecessary. I feel like this is probably the weakest of the series, but it is also vital because it starts to delve into He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s past and the idea of his soul.
Prisoner of Azkaban
This is one of my favorites in the series. It starts to really expand on the characters and their personalities. We start to see some complexity to our characters, both heroes and villains. This book is where the series starts to take a much darker turn, especially with the introduction of the Dementors. Those are seriously a terror like no other, they are worse than the thought of You-Know-Who. PoA also dabbles in time travel, and we get to see some of our favorite characters pushed to their limit, friendships were tested, but they held strong. We were introduced to many new characters, characters that become family to all of us.
Goblet of Fire
I have to say, Goblet is my least favorite of the entire series. So much of it feels like it’s not necessary, so many parts don’t add to the overall story of the series. I feel like I could just read the last few chapters, starting at the graveyard scene, and know pretty much all I need from this book. The whole idea of the Triwizard Tournament seems a little far-fetched. Seriously, so many students have died in the past, why would they bring it back again? It was neat, though, that it introduced the idea of foreign schools into the world. In some ways, we knew Hogwarts couldn’t be the only magical school, but before this I hadn’t really thought about there being other schools either. The Yule Ball is fun and starts to show a lot of the hormones and love interests that come with being a teenager, and the anxiety that can come with something as big as a school dance and hoping the right person asks you to go with them. One of the aspects I do like is how much their friendships are tested. They have some arguments, but in the end, they all stick together.
Order of the Phoenix
As is expected with You Know Who back in power, this is where the series really takes a turn to the darker side. Harry, with good reason, has a lot of pent-up anger throughout this book, almost bordering on anxiety/depression. Order also brings in a lot of the real-life issues that plague not only the wizarding world, but the muggle world as well. There are corrupt politicians, media in the hands of the powerful, and secret rebellion groups trying to do good. From a teenager point of view, you read about a horrible teacher who tries to control everything and is reporting to the corrupt politicians, thus ruining their education. On the positives, we do get introduced to Luna Lovegood, Harry gets his first kiss, and in the end we get a lot of questions answered at the expense of a beloved character’s death. In my opinion, Order does the best job of bringing in real-world problems and how they effect everyone involved.
Half-Blood Prince is my favorite book in the series. In HBP, the main characters are now 16, and they have had to mature beyond their years. They have all dealt with more than many others deal with in a lifetime. By the end of this book, Harry has lost everyone who is considered a mentor to him. The only people he has left who feel parental in any way are the Weasleys. Even with all this death around them, they are still teenagers. They are still filled with teenage hormones, and that plays a lot into Harry in this book. It’s fun to see the lighter side with the love stories in this book. We realize Hermione’s feelings for Ron, and of course Harry’s for Ginny. I love the debate for him, is he feeling like a protective older brother, or is it something more? I was so happy when he finally kissed her, to see them acting like typical teenagers. But Harry also has the decision between what is easy, and what is right, which is a common theme throughout the series. He tells Ginny at the end that they can’t be together because it would make her a target and he can’t have that. HBP also delves very deeply into He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s past, bringing a new level of understanding to just how terrible he really is, and what must be done to stop him. We questions many character’s loyalty, some we thought were bad seem like they are turning, and those we were convinced are good seem to be the worst out there.
Deathly Hallows, the conclusion, the final book in the series, the one that wraps up the entire story. Where to even begin. There are so many times you think you know what will happen, only to be surprised by what a character does/says. We have to deal with a lot of death in this book. So many wonderful characters don’t make it out alive, but that is a reality of war. This series wouldn’t be near as powerful if it was a perfect happy story. Through all this death, though, love conquers all. And we see more of the unconditional love that motivates many of the characters, as well as other motivations behind them. Everyone who died did so fighting for those they love. We also learn that no one can escape death or their fate. The book is full of self-sacrifice and facing your fears. Through everything that happens, many friendships are tested, some are pushed to a breaking point, but they hold together. Overall, I feel like it is a great conclusion to such an amazing book series.
Have you read the Harry Potter series? What do you think about it? Which is your favorite book? Let me know in the comments. I promise I won’t hex you if you aren’t as entranced as I am!