Thursday 14 April 2016

Reread Book Review: The Harry Potter series (books 1-3) by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter statues

If you know me at all, you will know that I'm a massive Harry Potter fan. I love anything Harry Potter - I've read the books and watched the movies countless times, I own all manner of Potter-related merchandise, I've even been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour... twice.

So with that in mind, what better books to pick up when I hit a reading slump? Due to various reasons, I haven't felt much like reading lately, so to get back into reading again (my tbr pile is still growing at an ever-expanding rate, even if I'm not reading anything!) I decided to reread the whole Harry Potter series again, for what seems like the 100th time!

No matter how many times I read these books they don't get old. Every new read reveals a hidden detail or clue I hadn't noticed before, and I still enjoy them as much as I did the first time.

Writing a book review for Harry Potter seems a bit of a pointless exercise; surely everyone must have read the books by now? That's why I've decided to document my journey through the wizarding world here. It's not like my usual book reviews. These are written with the impression that you, the reader, have also read the books. Think of it more as a recap - a reminder of why Harry Potter captured the nation's imagination and never let it go.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

I forgot how much I loved this book!
As an introduction to a series, Philosopher's Stone is brilliant. I'm always hooked from the very first page. I studied this book as part of my Writing for Children module at university last year and was very surprised to hear that my lecturer didn't rate it as an example of good writing. Of course, I had to disagree, which eventually led to me compiling a whole presentation on why it's so good, though that's a whole other story.

Rowling's writing style has always resonated with me. Perhaps because it's not 'dumbed-down' and she isn't afraid to use complex phrases like many other writers, but it's one of the things I appreciate most about the book. I first read this back in 2003 when I was 8 years old. As an 8-year-old, did I struggle with it? Not at all. I asked my parents about the meaning of the few words I hadn't heard before, and that was it. If anything, I think I learned a lot of vocabulary from the Harry Potter books, and they definitely influence my own writing even now.

Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs

But aside from that, what makes Philosopher's Stone so good? Two things - the amazing world Rowling has created for Harry and his friends; and the characters. The entire plot is held up by these two factors, which are what really sets the series apart from the rest.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Aside from the whole potential-death-by-giant-spider thing (an arachnophobe's worst nightmare) I forgot how much I loved this book! Chamber of Secrets seems to be one of the Potter books I always tend to gloss over, so it was nice to reread this and appreciate it fully again. I think I'll be promoting it to becoming my second-favourite Potter book! 

Plus you can't forget how many references to important events in the later books are in this one. I mean Dumbledore basically tells Harry he's a Horcrux when they're discussing how similar he and Voldemort are! How much more of a clue for book 7 do we need?!

Harry Potter Ford Anglia

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Prisoner of Azkaban is my third favourite Harry Potter book, only stopped from being ranked higher because it's quite slow to get going.

Personally, I find it a lot funnier than either of the other books to this point - there are a few Fred and George one-liners that still crack me up no matter how many times I read this book, and also Wood's obsession with winning the Quidditch Cup can be pretty funny at points. Not to mention Sir Cadogan and some of the lessons with Professor Trelawney - there are a whole host of minor characters providing humour here and I think that gets lost in the later books, which is a shame.

Harry Potter Monster Book of Monsters

In terms of the plot, it's a nice change to have something go wrong that doesn't actually directly involve Voldemort - it breaks what would otherwise become a very repetitive pattern in the series. Plus we get introduced to the Marauders, and who doesn't love their storyline? Lupin is a fantastic teacher and by far the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher they have in the whole series. I mean, I actually enjoy reading about his lessons...

I don't think this book carries as many hints to future events as the last one, but we do manage to advance the overarching plot of the whole series quite a bit, especially with the whole Wormtail running off to rejoin Voldemort thing.

My favourite bit of the book has to be the ending. Everything comes to a head and all the threads left in the book draw together to finally make sense. Now we understand how Hermione has been managing to deal with her impossible timetable, why Buckbeak's case was bigged up so much (despite seemingly being nothing more than a subplot) and why Snape hates Lupin so much.  

A great book, and a fab ending!

Harry Potter Great Hall

If you've enjoyed this post, then make sure to look out for the next instalment (books 4 and 5) coming soon!

Are you a Harry Potter fan? Which book is your favourite? Chat to me about all things Potter in the comments below!

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