Harry Potter and the Four Week Re-Read

Harry Potter

So at the beginning of last month, I realised that I was dreadfully behind on my reading challenge for this year – I wanted to read 52 books but I was stuck at 32. I knew I needed to get a few books under my belt, and what better way than with a Harry Potter re-read. I like to do it once a year, and it’s even better now that you can officially re-read a book on Goodreads and have it count towards your yearly challenge.

As always, I loved it. It’s so easy to get lost in Hogwarts and swept away in the magic. I did notice this time something that I hadn’t really noticed before, which is that the major plot element that becomes the ‘saviour’ towards the end is usually set up really obviously earlier in the book. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before, but I feel like I should have done. As you’re a quarter of the way through the book, you can usually see what will help Harry to defeat Voldemort once again.

The exception is the Deathly Hallows, which is so much darker than the other films that it’s hard to compare. I’d completely forgotten about certain plot elements like Wormtail’s silver hand turning on him and strangling him to death. So dark for a children’s book.

But the heartbreaker will always be:

“After all this time?” “Always”.

Oh Snape. I will always love you for being unfairly hated throughout the whole series when all you did was love Lily.

I feel like a Harry Potter movie-marathon is on the cards now…

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 1997-2007
Number of Pages: 4231
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 8th November 2017 – 4th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.5
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Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows

20140117-192700.jpgIt’s over! I actually can’t believe there’s no more left. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions over the last week, with way more lows than highs, but the final high being the best one of all. Be warned that this review contains many, many spoilers, so if you’ve not read the book, I advise you click away!

The books begins with Harry saying farewell to his ‘family’, the Dursley’s. His aunt and uncle don’t express much emotion at the thought that they’ll never see him again, but there’s a lovely moment between Dudley and Harry when, although he’s goaded and bullied him all his life, Dudley tells Harry that he doesn’t think he’s a waste of space.

There’s an awful moment as Harry is being moved from his ‘home’ to The Burrow when we think that George has died, but it turns out that he’s had his ear sliced off by a death eater, later found out to be Snape. He hasn’t forgotten his sense of humour though, although Fred is disappointed:


“Pathetic! With the whole wide world of ear-related humour before you, you go for holy?”

The majority of the book leaves you feeling very doubtful about Dumbledore, and his intentions towards asking Harry to carry out this monumental task, without giving him any real help, only mysterious clues which do not prove to be easy to figure out!

In the film, I’ve always found it an emotional moment when Hermione obliviates her parents to remove her memory so that the death eaters can’t use them to find where she is. But in the book, we find out that the first time that Hermione uses the obliviate spell is when they meet death eaters in Tottenham Court Road, and that she only cast a charm on her parents, which she plans to undo if they are successful in their plans. Which makes me much happier that Hermione won’t be left alone, and that she can get her parents back to share her life and that of her kids.

I’m not going to talk too much about the finding of the horcruxes and the uncovering of the story around the deathly hallows, apart from to say that the action kept me hooked and desperate to remember what happened next, since it’s been so long since the last time I read this book.

But the last 100-150 pages of the book had me more gripped than any book I’ve read in recent times. The fighting scenes were so well written, fast paced and full of action, but also interspersed with human moments and acts of bravery and mercy which made it much more realistic and full of emotional connection rather than just killing and maiming all over the place.

The shocker for me was Percy coming back to fight along side his family against the regime which he supported so earnestly that he disowned his entire family and all his friends. At first I wasn’t sure if they were going to accept him back, but that’s not what true family does, and the Weasley’s are the truest family you can get.

And in and among the horrific moments of the final fight, we finally see Ron and Hermione share their first kiss, prompted by the unusual moment of Ron sticking up for the house elves, and declaring that they can’t ask them to fight, ‘we don’t want any more Dobby’s’, referring to the fact that Dobby died to save them from Malfoy Manor and certain capture by Voldemort, a moment which definitely made me shed a tear.

But not as big a tear as when we find out that Fred Weasley has died, along with about fifty other people in the battle to keep Voldemort away from the castle long enough for Harry to find the final Horcrux, Ravenclaw’s lost diadem, which bears the phrase ‘Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure’.

At the very end of the book, we find the shocking truth about Snape, that contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t a death eater hell bent on making Harry’s life miserable until such a time as he could deliver him to Voldemort, he actually risked his life to keep Harry safe in memory of his mother, Lily, with whom Snape had been in love for nearly all his life. Snape’s patrons is a silver doe, the same as Lily’s was before she was killed by Voldemort. When Dumbledore asks Snape if he still loves her after all this time, Snape utters one word, possibly the most powerful word in the entire set of seven books: Always.

Towards the end of the book, two characters really come into their own. Firstly, Molly Weasley. After seeing Hermione, Luna and Ginny and duelling with Bellatrix Lestrange, she shouts ‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH’, and forces the other’s aside while she duels solo with Bellatrix until she strikes the fatal blow, thereby killing Voldemort’s most faithful servant, and the death eater who tortured Neville’s parents and killed Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black.

Speaking of Harry, he’s almost certainly the character who undergoes the biggest change in this year. Up until now, he’s been portrayed as lovely young man, but not exactly the best at magic, his spells often ending in amusing failures. But he comes into his own while Harry, Ron and Hermione are away from school, leading Dumbledore’s Army, despite the punishments received from the teachers who are now mostly composed of death eaters. We already know from the prophecy that it could have referred to either Harry or Neville, but Voldemort himself assured that it would be Harry when he decided that he would go after Harry to prevent the prophecy from coming true.

But Neville proves himself a true Gryffindor, brave and loyal, when he stands up to Voldemort on his own after it looks like Harry has been killed and all hope has been lost. Voldemort sticks the sorting hat on his head and sets it on fire, but the sorting hat delivers something that it could only deliver to someone who truly deserved it, the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which Neville then uses to destroy the final Horcrux, the snake Nagini, thus setting about the final battle that Hogwarts will see.

Well I think I’ve gone on for long enough now, so I’ll finish with just a little more. Firstly, I’ll say that since the first time I read this book, I’ve changed my opinion on the final chapter of the book ‘Nineteen years later’. I initially didn’t like it, thinking that it felt rushed and tacked on. But now I can see that it closed the book very nicely, letting you know that your beloved characters have grown up happily and peacefully, and that the memory of those that were lost lives on in the next generation.

If you’ve got this far and somehow you haven’t read this book, go out and read it, read the entire series and absorb the magicality of the world that Rowling created. And if you’ve already read it, read it again. You won’t regret it.

5/5

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

20140110-232540.jpgThe first time I read this book, someone (not mentioning any names) spoilt the end for me before I’d even started, which annoyed me so much. You’ll know why if you’ve read this, but just in case I’ll try not to spoil it for you. I’ve only actually read this book once before, although I’ve seen the film many many times, so I was a little hazy about what actually happened in the middle, although with a familiar sense of foreboding about the end.

I liked that at the start of this book we see the new minister for magic visiting the muggle prime minister. We don’t see this in the films, and I quite liked that we see the effect of the newly outbroken wizarding war on the muggle population. There were quite a lot of other changes from the book to the film, for example when Harry is discovered on the train just before it leaves the school, he’s discovered by Tonks, and not Luna. I did quite like the film version though, Luna may be loony, but she’s one of my favourite characters. I think the actress picked to play her in the films was perfect, and probably the reason why I like the character so much.

The whole Ron & Hermione saga carries on again, with Ron and Hermione not speaking to each other for over 3 months of the book, but all is changed when Ron is poisoned and almost dies. I think Hermione realises then how strong her feelings for him are and sets aside the petty squabbles to stay by his side. However, they’ve still not admitted it to each other yet, even if Ron’s proclamation that he loves Hermione for helping fix his Defence against the Dark Arts homework does make Hermione a bit pink in the cheeks.

Unlike Harry and Ginny, who finally get together in this book after much daydreaming on Harry’s part, even if it looks like it may have to reluctantly come to an end at the end of the book. I loved the Ginny character in the books, but I couldn’t stand her in the films, I think I just disliked the choice of actress. So although in the films I don’t like the fact that Harry and Ginny end up together, I love it in the book.

Harry spends a good portion of this book getting closer to Dumbledore, who is almost like a father figure to Harry. Dumbledore also finally opens up to Harry and tells him the truth of what he knows about Voldemort, and the whole truth this time, not just the ‘need to know’ part. I also think that maybe Dumbledore knew what was coming, and that there may have been a reason why he felt the need to impart all his knowledge on Harry, just in case he was left alone to fulfil his task.

[POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT]

I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up at the end. Even though I knew what was coming, and even though I’d been preparing for it over the last 575 pages, I wasn’t ready for it. I know that it had to happen, but I couldn’t help but feel Harry’s emotion coming up from the page. I think the latter portion of this book is the best written part of the entire series, every single part just grips you entirely.

I have two favourite quotes from this book, both from after ‘it’ happened.

“Dumbledore will only be gone from the school when none here are loyal to him”

And

“I’m Dumbledore’s man through and through. That’s right”

Both proving just how much influence Dumbledore had on Harry and his friends (e.g. the aptly named Dumbledore’s Army). And who knows how Dumbledore’s legacy might help Harry discover the final Horcruxes to defeat Voldemort once and for all…

5/5

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix

20140107-134857.jpgWhen I updated my Goodreads status to say I was reading this book, there were a lot of reviews saying that this book was their least favourite of the HP series, but I disagree whole-heartedly. There’s A LOT that goes on in this book (and not just because it’s 766 pages long).

The Ministry doesn’t believe that Voldemort has returned, and the most popular wizarding newspaper (The Daily Prophet), is doing everything it can to discredit Harry and Dumbledore. The book starts off with Harry fighting off a dementor attack in the Dursley’s muggle neighbourhood, and the pace doesn’t really stop from there.

For me, this book is the one with the most character development so far, everyone seems to grow up a lot in this book. For a start, there’s the forming of Dumbledore’s Army, the secret Defence Against the Dark Arts club formed in the wake of the draconian measures imposed by Professor Umbridge, sent to the school by the ministry and taking over bit by bit. Even though Harry tries to convince everyone that he’s no good at fighting off the dark arts, he still manages to teach his fellow classmates some pretty advanced magic, even Neville, who everyone thinks is useless.

The tension between Ron and Hermione continues to build throughout this book, with Hermione accusing Ron of having ‘the emotional range of a teaspoon’, and Ron exceedingly jealous when he finds out that Hermione is still in contact with Viktor Krum.

I have to say my favourite part of this book is Fred and George leaving the school in a blaze of glory. At first, they’re just causing a distraction so that Harry can use the fire in Umbridge’s office to speak to Sirius, but they kick it up a notch, giving it everything they’ve got before flying away from the school on their broomstick to wild applause.

We also find out why Harry is forced to spend summer after miserable summer stuck with the Dursley’s. The bond of love that protected Harry when Voldemort tried to kill him as a baby is also what keeps him safe, as long as he still lives with his Mother’s blood (i.e. her sister, his aunt Petunia). And although Harry hates to return to the Dursley’s now that the whole wizarding world finally believes that Voldemort has returned, at least he can now understand the reason why.

Although the book was so long and took much longer than the others to read, I enjoyed every single minute of it, and can’t wait to start the Half Blood Prince now. I’ve seen the film very recently, so I can’t wait to remember how it matches up to the book.

5/5

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

20140104-221443.jpgTo me, this book is where it all starts getting exciting, and it definitely takes a turn for the darker!

This book is where I started to be suspicious of Snape’s allegiance when I first read the series, and reading it again, I get the same feelings. We know that Dumbledore trusts him implicitly, but I get the feeling he’s hiding something.

We’re also introduced more to the house-elves, with Hermione starting SPEW to try and protect them, even though most of them don’t want to be helped and are perfectly happy how they are. Although we also find out that not all house-elves are the same, Barty Crouch’s house elf Winky is definitely nothing like Dobby, loyal to Crouch even after he releases her from his service, desperate to be taken back and ashamed of Dobby for taking pay from Dumbledore.

This book also ramps up the tumultuous relationship between Ron and Hermione, with Ron’s jealousy at Hermione going to the ball with Krum exceedingly evident. And Hermione’s feelings are not exactly hidden either, ‘Just because it’s taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn’t mean no one else has spotted I’m a girl!

My favourite quote from this book was from Sirius:

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals”

At more than 600 pages, this book was a beast, and the next one is more than 700! Could take me a while…

5/5

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

20131231-183337.jpgI seemed to remember this book much more than the others, whether it’s because I’ve read it more often or if I’ve just seen the film a lot, but the book felt extremely familiar.

The thing I love the most about this book is that it is the first time that Harry feels like he has an actual family (I don’t think the Dursleys count as a normal loving family), and even though Harry’s dreams of living with Sirius are cruelly snatched away after half an hour and now it looks like he has no chance of seeing him again, he knows that he has someone who loves him.

My favourite quote from this book was from when Buckbeak was sentenced to execution and Harry, Ron and Hermione are trying to comfort Hagrid. When Hagrid’s howling becomes unconsolable, Ron says ‘Er, shall I make him a cup of tea?‘ After a stare from Harry, he says that it’s what his mum usually does when someone is upset. Apart from the fact that I can’t get enough of tea at the moment, the exchange reminded me of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

This book brings back some of the tension between Ron and Hermione, with Hermione stressed out by taking so many subjects and Ron and Harry baffled as to how she manages it, and Hermione understandably getting a bit snippy. As well as all the work, she’s trying to find a way to free Buckbeak and constantly worrying about Harry with Sirius ‘on the loose’. Not that she gets any thanks for it when she has Harry’s precious new broom temporarily confiscated for ‘tests’.

I was hoping that I would have been able to read Goblet of Fire before the end of the  year, but with 5 hours left, I don’t think I stand a chance, so I’ll leave it at 34 books read this year. Not quite as good as the 68 last year, but not too shabby since I hardly read at all over the summer. I think I’ll aim for 50 next year and see how it goes…

5/5

 

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets

20131229-151410.jpgI was always under the impression that this was my least favourite of all the books, but I think it’s actually the film which I disliked, because the book was excellent. I think I must have seen the film about 15 times with all the times it’s been shown on TV at Christmas, so I think it’s overwatching that’s made me not like it.

First of all, I just want to say how awesome the cover is for this book, very sinisterly red.

This book is the first introduction we get to Dobby, the adorably cute House Elf, although not so adorably cute in his actions in this book, trying to prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts with some non-conventional methods. In his own words: “Dobby wants to save Harry Potter’s life! Better sent home, grievously injured, than remain here, sir! Dobby only wanted Harry Potter hurt enough to be sent home!”

I also enjoyed the first appearance of Hermione’s ‘bad side’, trying to persuade Harry and Ron to brew the Polyjuice potion with stolen ingredients even though Ron and Harry both think it’s a bad idea. And maybe after the effects of her particular mug of ‘Millicent Bullstrode’, Ron and Harry had a point…

I couldn’t help but read Moaning Myrtle’s part of the book with the voice from the film, just like when I read Lord of The Rings and couldn’t help but read Gollum with the film voice. I do remember the first time I watched The Chamber of Secrets and being surprised that they managed to get the voice so perfect for the part!

By far my favourite quote of the book comes from the Albus Dumbledore when Harry asks him why the sorting hat didn’t put him into Slytherin when that was what the hat initially suggested.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Prisoner of Azkaban up next, I wonder how far I can get by new year…

5/5

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone

20131228-163743.jpgI’ve been wanting to re-read these books since I went to the Harry Potter museum in July, and my lovely parents bought me the full boxset for Christmas, with the gorgeous new covers. I couldn’t wait to start, but I managed to hold back until I’d finished reading Death Comes to Pemberley.

It’s actually been a surprisingly long time since I read the books, I re-read the last 3 when the final book came out, but it’s probably been about ten years since I read the first few. I’ve obviously seen the films more recently than that, but I loved being transported back to 10 years old again!

I think we all know how the story goes, so I won’t do a review of the actual book, but I do have a favourite few parts from the book, which I was able to write down in the awesome Book Journal that my friend Andy bought me for Christmas.

I got a nice smile from when Dumbledore and McGonagall were leaving Harry on the doorstep of the Dursley’s, and McGonagall asked Dumbledore if there was anything he could do to remove the scar from Harry’s forehead. Dumbledore said ‘Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the London Underground’. I had a wonderful vision of Dumbledore in a pair of shorts on the underground consulting his knee for directions.

I also loved the quote on the door of Gringotts;

Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay dearly in their turn,
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned beware
Of finding more than treasure there.

Not only is it a good quote about not taking advantage and taking more than you earn, but I’d imagine that if you’d never seen a Goblin before and you saw this quote about finding ‘more than treasure’, it’d probably put you on edge a bit!

But by far my favourite quote from the book is from Dumbledore when Harry is sat in front of the mirror of Erised. ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that’. I also loved that I’ve only just realised that the quote on the mirror of Erised was actually a message backwards:

“Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi”

Which then becomes:

“I show not your face but your hearts desire”

I was quite surprised to remember that the adventure into the third floor corridor past the three-headed fluffy and the subsequent battle with Quirrell/Voldemort was only really in the last 30-40 pages. I seemed to remember it being much longer, although that was maybe because it took up a much bigger part of the film. I’d also forgotten that at the start, Ron and Harry thought that Hermione was an annoying know it all, and weren’t actually friends with her until they helped her fight the troll in the girls bathroom, after accidentally locking it in there with her!

Can’t wait to start the Chamber of Secrets now. I always remembered it as my least favourite of the books, but maybe it will change my mind!