After completing my 2016 challenges and setting up reviews to take me into the new year, I decided to take the time to do a full reread of the Harry Potter series. It was the first time I was rereading.. I read books 1-3 as a kid, and then later, 1-7 as an adult. I’ve never actually read the series more than once as a whole! Partly, I’m just not much of a re reader, but also, being a blogger makes it hard to take the time to reread something longer because I need to have reviews scheduled.
However, I’m really glad I took the time. The movies are great, but they miss so much.. so many details! It was nice to get back into the series and savor all of the details. Also, I never read the books from any other perspective other than just experiencing the story. It’s a lot different knowing what happens and being able to analyze it all. Also, I’m a Slytherin, which makes for an interesting reading experience.
I’ve decided to document some of my thoughts during each book.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
In book 1, I realized how short sighted Harry could be. At first, I felt really bad for him because of all he endured at the Dursley’s, but it was clear that Dumbledore had a point when he decided to stick Harry there. The fame could’ve easily turned him into an awful person. Even with a ton of hardship and perspective, he still had his faults. All of his actions were based on his point of view, but he never stopped to think about how he appeared to other people. He completely disregarded and offended Draco and, if you look at it from Draco’s point of view, it was a really awful slight. The famous Harry Potter just treated him like dirt.. and he didn’t even really deserve it. He did later, he really did bully Harry, but that short exchange is what started the whole thing. If Harry was nicer, he could’ve avoided an enemy. Of course, I am a little more defensive when it comes to Draco because I know that he’s ultimately not evil and neither is Snape. And in the beginning, Harry seemed to associate people who didn’t like him with evil.. and that’s kind of a problem. I’m glad he has Ron and Hermione to help balance him out.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
In book 2, I realize I totally forgot Ginny’s role in the diary from Tom Riddle. It’s been a really long time since I’ve even seen the Chamber of Secrets movie. I feel like Harry’s insistence that Snape and all of Slytherin is evil is completely over the top. So far, the only house involved in anything is Gryffindor. Obviously, we know why and we know that stuff just happens to Harry and it’s not like he wills it, but just imagine how it looks to everyone else! It’s kind of unfair. It was interesting to see Harry struggle with his fame and find things he is good at.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In book 3, I had forgotten just how much I absolutely love Professor Lupin. He was such a great teacher and person and remains one of my favorite characters. I also enjoyed the whole dementor thing and the existence of Sirius Black. I also liked that we got to know Snape a little more and realize that Harry’s father perhaps wasn’t the amazing person Harry thought he was if he bullied Snape. I’m still completely bothered by how Harry can continue to be a jerk to Malfoy, yet act like it’s so unfair that Malfoy treats him like crap. It’s a two way street and yet Harry just walks around like he’s the victim. I understand why Snape hates him. Unless you’re in Harry’s head or his friend, it’s probably really easy to assume he’s full of himself.. he certainly acts like it at times.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I stopped at this book as a kid. Honestly, I just didn’t know when it would end and I didn’t want to get stuck in another Harry Potter is good at everything and solves another mystery while also becoming champion of everything. It wasn’t until later, as an adult, when I discovered that Harry would struggle, lose people he cared about, and not always come out on top. To me, that’s what makes fiction interesting. So I read this one in full as an adult. I think Goblet of Fire is a bit too long, but I just wasn’t into the whole Triwizard Tournament or the Quidditch match. This is the one book where I feel like the things that attract people to the fandom differ from what attracts me. However, there are some of my favorite moments, like S.P.E.W. and Dobby and the more complicated plot involving He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
And here come my favorites… I love 5-7 so much!
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This is where the series starts to really improve in my opinion. Harry struggled a lot in this book and I think that’s what I needed him to do. His life was chaos. He spent his summer feeling isolated. He returned to school and few of his classmates believed You-Know-Who was back. The Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts butted heads throughout the entire book because of the issue of whether or not Voldemort was back. Dumbledore backed Harry, but the Minister felt threatened by Dumbledore and it turned into the worst situation. And this was the book that introduced Umbridge, perhaps the worst sort of person in the entire series. She makes me cringe in ways that Voldemort and even Bellatrix don’t do for me! She’s the evil we see everyday and I think that’s what makes her such a great evil character. We really got to see some parallels in this book about government interference.
I love meeting all of the characters in this book. The Order of Phoenix was made up of some pretty unique characters. Harry got to see the Black home with Sirius and meet Kreacher, the disgruntled House Elf. I also loved meeting Luna Lovegood, the quirky Ravenclaw that could also see Thestrals.
In my opinion, this book is the one that sets the series apart and gets super serious. It crosses out of fun middle grade adventure territory and becomes a serious piece of literature. I can’t wait to crack the next book open.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
I love this one! Book 6 is intensely serious. Harry struggled with feelings for Ginny (which always seemed forced and weird to me, though I know that’s an unpopular opinion), watched Ron struggle with whatever it was that was happening between him and Hermione, and people were getting hurt at Hogwarts (but what else is new?) Harry was very suspicious of Malfoy, which was kind of annoying, even if we did figure out that he WAS indeed up to something. My one complaint is that Harry kept on being validated. His obsession with trying to catch Snape and/or Malfoy doing something dark was awful, but he wasn’t wrong. At least Dumbledore attempted to keep him on his toes. A lot about Voldemort was revealed and I enjoyed the darker side of things. This book is one of my favorites.
I love that Harry had some issues with his friends and had to make decisions alone. I love that he screws up and makes wrong decisions. And I love how the plot thickened and we got so much history of Voldemort.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This book is perhaps the darkest of them all and the one that ends it all. Harry did not return to Hogwarts, as Dumbledore gave him a mission and Ron and Hermione accompanied him. Without Dumbledore’s guidance, Harry struggled to complete the tasks, but ultimately persevered. I absolutely loved when Dudley said to Harry that he wasn’t a waste of space, which was quite touching after everything that happened while Harry lived with the Dursleys.
I forget how much material is in the final book. The mention of horcruxes is briefly mentioned in the last book and then the final book, but it’s something I remember so clearly. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows isn’t much longer than the past couple of books, but I feel like it contains so much. Between the deaths, the Deathly Hallows, the epic battle, and the final understanding of some wizarding lore and quests for power, the final book really is pretty epic.
I love this series and I love how it ends, at least until the epilogue. I still can’t help but cringe a little bit at the neat bow at the end with everyone paired off and the names of all of the children. However, I know I’m weird and most people like to have concrete where-are-they-now endings.
Other things of note: I did not miss the way the memory of James Potter compared to Draco’s introduction to Harry in book one, the way he scoffed at Slytherin the same way Draco scoffed at Hufflepuff. Harry didn’t like Draco’s attitude and it completely set them up to be enemies the entire series, but his father had similar stuck up attitudes. I never noticed that before, perhaps because I was focused on the great revelation that Snape was not Voldemort’s wingman and hadn’t been for a long time. Harry is a humble and quite talented wizard, but his tendency to relax the rules really did make him seem like his father in a lot of ways, which explains how awful Snape was to him. (And I really don’t think Snape was very awful, just a tad stubborn and rude).
Also, I can’t seem to get through the final movies or this book without crying.
I’m really glad I decided to reread the series. It worked out perfectly, with me finishing on Christmas and ready to start reading books for 2017. I had plenty of time, having met my 2016 goals back before Thanksgiving.
I know a lot of people end up rereading the series often, even annually, but I can’t imagine reading it so often. I’m not much a re reader, so I’m happy to have experienced the series just a couple of times now. I do hope to reread other favorites because I enjoy it, perhaps even more so the second time around.
Also, the movies are fairly good, but I was amazed at how different some of the scenes were, aside from the material cut from the movies, like almost every amazingly hilarious Dobby scene. Since I’ve only read through most of the books once before, the movies kind of end up replacing my memories of events and it’s incredible how many details I’d forgotten were different.