As part of my 24 Before 25 list, I’m reading every book in the Harry Potter series. I read the first book in early December and became completely hooked, and since January 1st I’ve already read books 2 through 4. They’re so good, I just can’t put them down! Since I’m halfway to my goal, I thought I’d give a little play-by-play of my experience reading these books for the first time as an adult. WARNING: there may be spoilers, so if you haven’t read the books and intend to, avert your eyes!
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
As with the first book, I had seen the film version of Chamber of Secrets years ago and thus knew all of the plot points. But even excepting that fact, I found this book to be pretty meh. I felt a little peeved by the end of the book over the Chamber of Secrets, and how no one figured out between the first and second time it was opened that it was a basilisk, and not a giant spider, that was killing and petrifying people. If someone simply asked Moaning Myrtle how she died, a lot of petrification could have been avoided, and Hagrid wouldn’t have been wrongfully expelled from Hogwarts. I guess that’s how the story needed to go, though. I did love, however, that Hermione’s brilliance managed to save the day in spite of her being petrified… that basilisk would probably still be loose in Hogwarts if it had been left up to Ron and Harry to figure it out. I don’t know what they would do without her.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
Definitely my favorite book of the series so far. Because I hadn’t seen the film version, it all seemed so fresh and exciting as I was reading it, and I think this book strikes the perfect balance between the whimsy of the wizarding world and the inevitable darkness of the later books (from what I’ve heard). I loved Professor Lupin. He won me over the first time he gave Neville positive encouragement and I was completely shocked to discover that he was a werewolf (I literally gasped out loud), but he remains my favorite adult character of the series. Sirius Black is also a pretty cool guy, but I thought it was weird that Harry was so keen to go live with him only minutes after discovering that Sirius wasn’t the reason his parents were killed, as he had thought for the entire book. The dementors were terrifying, but I found the notion of the Patronus Charm to be really clever and profound, and is something whose principles I’m starting to use in my everyday non-wizarding life. The best part, though? TIME TRAVEL. Hermione is a boss. I don’t know what Harry would do without her.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
So scary. From the very beginning, I could tell this book was going to be really dark, and I was not wrong. From the introduction of the Unforgivable Curses to the sketchy pretenses in which Harry becomes part of the Triwizard Tournament to the revelation that Neville’s parents had been tortured to madness by Death Eaters, it was all so dark. And poor Cedric Diggory! All he wanted to do was be decent and share the title of Champion with Harry, and what does he get? Avada Kedavra‘d. His death felt like the end of innocence in the series. Lord Voldemort terrifies me, and his snake Nagini terrifies me, and I’ve been having nightmares about getting eaten by snakes ever since reading this book, but I have to admit that the duel between Harry and Voldemort was pretty epic. I teared up a little bit when Cedric’s echo came out of Voldemort’s wand and asked Harry to take his body back to his parents. So sad. On a lighter note, I wish Ron and Hermione would just admit that they love each other already. The jealousy and bickering is getting tired.
Bring on books 5 through 7!