Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes"Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. In ”The Hunger Games”, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive.
In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit and Katniss’s fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. The inner turmoil Katniss faces is incredibly palpable--every person she ever cares about is put in danger, and she has to live with that, decide what sacrifices she is willing to make, and how to ensure their safety.
”Catching Fire” is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta’s mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Actually, I think the title accurately reflects what this novel is all about--things in Katniss's world begin to catch fire. They don't actually “catch fire”--it just begins; it's "catching," so to speak.
The biggest problem with ”Catching Fire” is its pacing. The first third of the novel is really told in summary--Katniss explains what happened when she and Peeta came home, what happened on their tour of the Districts, what happened when she talked to Gale, etc. By telling it all in long paragraphs of summary, Collins removes the reader from the immediacy of the action--and it's both disappointing and disengaging. I wanted to experience Katniss's first meeting with Gale after she returned from the Games. I wanted be part of her trying to get her life together after her horrific experiences. But that's not the way this story is told. Then, about midway through the novel, things start to feel very much like ”The Hunger Games” revisited.
Additionally, Gale plays such a peripheral role in this novel that it's hard to really know him. Peeta is present in almost every chapter--the sweet, loving, doting boyfriend who will be eternally true to Katniss. Gale, however, appears in only a few brief scenes, and never says more than a few words. ”Mockingjay” may give us a better picture of what these two young men really meant to Katniss; ”Catching Fire” does not.
Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta’s subversive victory. Katniss also deepens as a character. Though initially bewildered by the attention paid to her, she comes almost to embrace her status as the rebels’ symbolic leader.
In terms of sheer adventure and thrills, Collins really knows how to step it up, especially once Katniss re-enters the arena. The author comes up with some really messed up perils for the tributes, plus there's the added nuance of the contestants all being past champions. This time, Katniss isn't contending with inexperienced children.
I do have a problem with the way the book ends. There were signposts along the way, so it's not like it came out of left field, but still I feel that the plot switcheroo comes along too abruptly and feels rushed, and so there's a jarring whiplash effect.
In the meantime, I'll need to try to find something to keep myself occupied until I can finally read the conclusion to this compelling, disturbing, and deeply layered tale. Collins has crafted a really impressive work of literature and it is one I will definitely be recommending to friends.
I was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediaI was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediacy to it that, when combined with the very dramatic life-or-death plot, is incredibly compelling. It's entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once.
In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch.
When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker (who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough), will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing.
So many topics are touched upon; a nation filled with so many poor and a handful of very rich, the use of fear to govern, Big Brother watching every move, even the issue of our addiction to "reality tv" and questioning how real it is. To have a female character that uses her brains to survive, without losing her humanity, is a great achievement, although the games and deaths are very, very brutal.
This book is very well written, the scenes sharp and crisp, the world believable and detailed. The characters become real as you read. You reach the end and are left hungry for more, which is what you will get as this is book one in a trilogy. The only drawback in my opinion is the lack of a map. I keep hoping for a map of Panem, with the 12 districts, the mysterious destroyed 13th district and the wilderness areas between them. Maybe this can be part of a companion book to this trilogy?
There is action, romance, deception, humans hunting humans, surgically altered stylists (reminiscent of Westerfeld's "Uglies"), genetically enhanced mutants, a cruel totalitarian government, and a unspoken mandatory creed to treat the entire event as if it were a holiday.
When first we met Harry Potter, he was "The Boy Who Lived", with an address of "The Cupboard Under the Stairs". Who could help but bleed sympathy forWhen first we met Harry Potter, he was "The Boy Who Lived", with an address of "The Cupboard Under the Stairs". Who could help but bleed sympathy for Harry, treated abysmally -- abused, really -- by the only blood relatives (in fact his mother's very own sister) and forced to live under said stairs by those awful Muggles, the Dursleys? And yet, at the time when the old magic over his Muggle residence would break on the eve of his coming-of-age, there was a resolution of sorts. I did not hold out for a reconciliation between Harry and the elder Dursleys since their prejudices have seeped a long time ago to the core of their beings, but I did not expect the bridging of a gap between Harry & Dudley. "Don't these people realize what you've been through? What dangers you are in?" "Er -- no, they don't," said Harry. "They think I'm a waste of space, actually, but I'm used to --" "I don't think you're a waste of space."
Relieved that there are no deaths in the Weasley family even with almost everyone of them members of The Order of the Phoenix (and the rest making up the bulk of Dumbledore's Army), events proceeded as planned culminating in the joyous occassion that was the wedding of Bill to Fleur. It was a treat to be able to read about a witch and a wizard getting married. I couldn't think of anyone else more well-suited to marry the eldest Weasley son than Fleur -- who displayed her love for him even when Bill was bit by the werewolf Greyback. Unfortunately this was also the time when Harry can no longer dodge the murky background that was Professor Dumbledore's younger life, what with his earnest conversation with Elphias Doge and Great-Aunt Muriel about his mentor, and the expose book written by Rita Skeeter. The wedding proved to be the jumping point as well of a glimpse of two factors that will play a bigger part later in the book: the introduction of Xenophilius Lovegood and the sign signifying the Deathly Hallows (adopted by Grindelwald as his sign according to Victor Krum) as well as Harry's realization of who Gregorovitch is.
But not everything relies on one's age but the level of maturity attained. The heart of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is a hero's mission--not just in Harry's quest for the Horcruxes (and overcoming his desire of seeking the Hallows), but in his journey from being a boy to manhood--and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and Voldemort, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. "Harry, I'm sorry, but I think the real reason you're so angry is that Dumbledore never told you any of this himself." "Maybe I am! Look what he asked from me, Hermione! Risk your life, Harry! And again! And again! And don't expect me to explain everything, just trust me blindly, trust that I know what I'm doing, trust me even though I don't trust you! Never the whole truth! Never!"
Nobody was even more surprised than they were we presented with Professor Dumbledore's will as personally delivered by then Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. I think every reader felt a modicum of respect towards him when he refused to reveal Harry's whereabouts when the Ministry was taken over by the Death Eaters. The Last Will of Albus Dumbledore left Ron his Deluminator (remember this one from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"?), Hermione his copy of the book "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" and to Harry "I leave the Snitch he caught in his first Quidditch Match in Hogwarts, as a reminder of the rewards of perseverance and skill." Who knew that snitches have flesh memories? Or that young generations of witches and wizards grew up with children's stories such as "The Fountain of Fair Fortune," "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot," and "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump"?
Harry then embarks on the quest to find the remaining Horcruxes based on his knowlege of Voldemort's early life as Tom Marvolo Riddle, with his two bestfriends at his side. Knowing that Harry would refuse for them to place themselves in mortal danger for him, they have already devised plans to stem off any arguments. Ron (with the help of his Dad, Fred and George) has made The Burrow's resident Ghoul dress up in his pajamas and pretend to be him with spattergroit so as not to endanger the rest of the Weasleys if he should disappear. As for Hermione, it must've pained her greatly the necessity of modifying her parents' memories to forget that they have a witch daughter, and thus, protect them from Voldemort's interrogation. You can't help but admire her for such courage and how she was able to always be organized (even bringing along Dumbledore's book 'Secrets of the Darkest Art') and stay on top of things when the time came for the three to hastily depart The Burrow.
The journey proved to test not only the trio's faith in the task left behind to them by Professor Dumbledore but also to test their friendship. Their stay in Grimmauld Place proved to be advantageous, not only for the fact that Harry was able to discover Sirius's old bedroom (and its Muggle decor) and see an old photo of the Marauders in their Hogwarts days, but also a precious letter written by Lily Potter to Sirius, decribing Harry's birthday present from his godfather. It is also during their stay here that they have been able to plan how to best infiltrate the Ministry of Magic and discern the horrors of the newly-instituted Muggle-born Registration Commission headed by that soulless Umbridge, figure out the what the new regime is all about ("Magic is Might") and their efforts in capturing Harry, now known as "Undesirable Number One", knocked over by the news of Professor Snape becoming the new Headmaster of Hogwarts and Death Eaters talking total control of the entire school, convince Professor Lupin not to abandon his new bride and soon-to-be-born son, and to find out the identity of R.A.B. (Regulus Arcturus Black) who has robbed Voldemort of his Horcrux hidden at the cave. It was Kreacher -- through his obedience of the highest law that a house-elf must obey above all others -- that they were able to piece together the story and to finally understand the deplorable situation of house elves serving their masters.
Harry friendship with Ron has never been as sorely tested as it was then, aided by the evil residing in Slytherin's locket. "I..." She looked anguished. "Yes -- yes, I'm staying. Ron, we said we'd go with Harry, we said we'd help --" "I get it. You choose him."
Am I relieved when it was resolved; when Ron's fears of losing Hermione to Harry was out in the open. "She's like my sister," he went on. "I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It's always been like that. I thought you knew."
Harry is much stronger when he is with Ron and Hermione, of that there was never a question. He needed all the emotional support and outpouring of friendship most especially when they finally found out about "The Tale of the Three Brothers", further explained by Mr. Lovegood, which spoke of the three Deathly Hallows. The Elder Wand, The Ressurection Stone and The Cloak of Invisibility combined makes one the Master of Death, which now seeks to create a huge chasm between Harry from the other two. Yet nobody could blame him of thinking of these great magical implements as a way not only to finally defeat Voldemort but to also bring back what he misses the most: his parents.
Encouraging was the knowlege that the three of them are not alone in this fight, that there are others like the 'Potterwatch' who fully support them without question. Kudos to the Weasleys and Lee Jordan for continuing the fight through an alternative medium. What happened next could not be helped -- what with the utterance of the Taboo -- ending in their capture (along with Dean Thomas and Griphook) into the dungeons of Malfoy Manor. It was there that Wormtail was able to finally repay the life debt he owed to Harry in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." We also get to find out what has happened to the captured Luna & Mr. Olivander. It is also through the wandmaker that we get exposed to the obscure branch of magical study: wandlore. From here on, more clues are scattered for the reader to pick up on; as well as the precarious relationship existing through thousands of years between wizards and goblins. Like Harry, I also rekindled the hope that it may be the twinkling blue eyes of Professor Dumbledore which showed itself on the sliver left of Sirius's mirror and responsible for sending the aid in the form of Dobby.
Hard to read through was the death of Dobby, the house-elf who hero-worshipped the ground Harry walked on. He would undoubtedly sacrifice all that he is to be able to save Harry and Dobby's death proved instrumental in the raw pain experienced by 'The Chosen One' to enable him to re-focus on the destruction of the Horcruxes and abandon the search for the Deathly Hallows. I cried when Dobby died; when Harry dug his grave near Shell Cottage. All he cared about was that a dark stain was spreading across Dobby's front, and that he had stretched out his thin arms to Harry with a look of supplication. "Dobby, no, don't die, don't die -- "
Not everything is about death in the last book of the series. How ecstatic are all readers upon hearing of the greatest news to befall Professor Lupin and Auror Tonks. "It's a boy! We've named him Ted, after Dora's father!" Hermione shrieked. "Wha -- ? Tonks -- Tonks has had a baby?" "Yes, yes, she's had the baby!" shouted Lupin. All around the table came cries of delight, sighs of relief; Hermione and Fleur both squealed, "Congratulations!" and Ron said, "Blimey, a baby!" as if he had never heard of such a thing before. "Yes -- yes -- a boy," said Lupin again, who seemed dazed by his own happiness. He strode around the table and hugged Harry. "You'll be godfather?" he said as he released Harry. "M-me?" stammered Harry. "You, yes, of course -- Dora quite agrees, no one better -- " "I -- yeah -- blimey -- "
Included is a change within the characters, helped along by the circumstances surrounding them. Those whom we thought would instinctively cower are the ones who proved their mettle. It is those who were left behind in Hogwarts who sought to fight the battle against the takeover of their beloved school. "Gran's on the run. She sent me a letter," he clapped a hand to the breast pocket of his robes, "telling me she was proud of me, that I'm my parents' son, and to keep it up." Neville may have finally lived up to the reputation of being the son of his famously courageous parents and proved that he is indeed a true Gryffindor to be able to wield Godric's sword to later slay the Horcrux residing in Nagini.
It was also the time for the return of the son who has seen the error of his ways: "I was a fool!" Percy roared. "I was an idiot, I was a pompous prat, I was a -- a --" "Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry-moron," said Fred. "Yes, I was!" "Well, you can't say fairer than that," said Fred, holding out his hand to Percy. Mrs. Weasley burst into tears. She ran forward, pushing Fred aside, and hugged Percy into a strangling hug, while he patted her on the back, his eyes on his father. "I'm sorry, Dad," Percy said. Mr. Weasley blinked rapidly, then he too hurried to hug his son.
The Weasley family are once again all together; all was forgiven and forgotten between their family members. Equally lucky was Ron, and were it not for the change in his outlook towards the welfare of the downtrodden house elves, I don't think that Hermione would've had the push she needed. "No," said Ron seriously, "I mean we should tell them to get out. We don't want any more Dobbies, do we? We can't order them to die for us --" There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione's arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet. "Is this the moment?" Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. "OI! There's a war going on here!"
While fans will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor Snape, and Voldemort, it is a testament to Rowling's skill as a storyteller that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise. It all draws to a near close when we all troop back to the place that both Harry and Voldemort considered as their 'true home': Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Both are bent on acquiring the lost diadem of Hogwarts Founder Rowena Ravenclaw and trust Voldemort to be overbearingly confident as to completely discredit that others would be able to penetrate the secrets of Hogwarts as well as he did. I was relieved when Professor McGonagall has finally realized that indeed Harry's the only one who can defeat Voldemort. 50 points to Gryffindor House for her dig at Harry regarding the professors' capability of safeguarding the school. "You're acting on Dumbledore's orders?" she repeated with a look of dawning wonder. "We shall secure the school against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named while you search for this -- this object." "Is that possible?" "I think so," said Professor McGonagall dryly, "we teachers are rather good at magic, you know."
Thus the fast-paced, not-to-be-missed Battle of Hogwarts has began. This proved to be the most action-packed portion of the book, as students from all Houses defended Harry from any underhanded plan of Slytherin House to gladly hand over Harry to the Death Eaters. It was revealed that the decor of Hogwarts of which we as readers have been familiar with all this time are actually concealing their purpose: "Hogwarts is threatened!" shouted Professor McGonagall. "Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to the school!" Clattering and yelling, the horde of moving statues stampeded past Harry: some of them smaller, others larger than life. There were animals too, and the clanking suits of armor brandished swords and spiked balls on chains.
I must've read the sentences regarding Fred's death several times to make sure I understand that he has indeed been killed. It just seemed so heartbreaking... "No -- no -- no!" someone was shouting. "No! Fred! No!" And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred's eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.
This was exactly what any mother would've needed as a reason to kill off Bellatrix, and who best avenge such deaths than Mrs. Weasley? "Not my daughter, you bitch!" "You will never touch our children again!" screamed Mrs. Weasley. Molly's curse soared beaneath Bellatrix's outstretched arm and hit her squarely in the chest, directly over her heart.
With the death of Professor Snape, the truth of who he was and what he was ready to sacrifice in order to protect the memory of Lily Potter through her son was finally revealed. Nobody could've possibly seen that coming. We knew, at the end, that Harry himself was ready to make the same sacrifice in order to protect everyone and everything that he loves: 'I open at the close' Harry pressed the golden metal to his lips and whispered, "I am about to die." Lily's smile was widest of all. "You've been so brave." "You are nearly there," said James. "Very close. We are... so proud of you."
I was shaking my head at the thought of Harry dying unarmed and defenseless at the hands of Voldemort were it not for his meeting afterwards with Professor Dumbledore and the sincere apology and regret expressed by his mentor of all that has happened. "Can you forgive me?" he said. "Can you forgive me for not trusting you? For not telling you? Harry, I only feared that you would fail as I had failed. I only dreaded that you would make my mistakes. I crave your pardon, Harry. I have known, for some time now, that you are the better man." "Master of death, Harry, Master of Death! Was I better, ultimately, than Voldemort?" "Not the way he did," said Harry. After all his anger at Dumbledore, how odd it was to sit here, beneath the high, vaulted ceiling, and defend Dumbledore from himself. "Hallows, not Horcruxes." "Hallows," murmured Dumbledore, "not Horcruxes. Precisely."
How does it all end? Who should be triumphant in the ultimate face off between Harry and Voldemort? The truth of Professor Dumbledore's plans shake Voldemort to the core, he realizes that there was a solid reason why Professor Dumbledore was "the only one he ever feared". In the face of Harry Potter, so similar to him in many ways, Voldemort realizes that this is indeed the end no matter how much he believes and relies on his own powerful brand of magic. "I don't want anyone else to try to help," Harry said loudly, and in the total silence his voice carried like a trumpet call. "It's got to be like this. It's got to be me." Voldemort hissed, "Who are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?" "Nobody," said Harry simply. "There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good..."
"Aren't you listening? Snape never beat Dumbledore! Dumbledore's death was planned between them! Dumbledore intended to die, the wand's last true master! If all had gone as planned, the wand's power would have died with him, because it had never been won from him!"
"So it all comes down to this, doesn't it?" whispered Harry. "Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does... I am the true master of the Elder Wand."
Words cannot describe how every fan and supporter of "The Boy Who Lived" must've felt over the utter defeat of Voldemort. Harry knew that he had made the right choices and decision upon entering the Headmaster's office. All around the walls, the headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts were giving him a standing ovation; they waved their hats and in some cases their wigs; they reached through their frames to grip each other's hands; they danced up and down an othe chairs in which they have been painted. But Harry had eyes only for the man who stood in the largest portrait directly behind the headmaster's chair. Tears were sliding down from behind the half-moon spectacles into the long silver pride, and the pride and the gratitude emanating from him filled Harry with the same balm as phoenix song.
The war has ended; the Battle of Hogwarts finished. Voldemort's folly of not believing the powerful magic that is love caused his own downfall. Harry's belief in himself and the enduring love and support of everyone around him enabled him to win. We now bid our sad farewells to those who have fallen; goodbye Hedwig, Auror Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, Ted Tonks, Dobby (Here lies Dobby, a Free Elf), Fred Weasley, Professor Remus Lupin, Auror Nymphadora Tonks, Colin Creevey, Professor/Headmaster Severus Snape.
Title Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
"It's going to be all right, sir," Harry said over and over again, more worried by Dumbledore's silence than he had been by his weakened voice. "We're"It's going to be all right, sir," Harry said over and over again, more worried by Dumbledore's silence than he had been by his weakened voice. "We're nearly there... I can Apparate us both back... Don't worry..." "I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water, "I am with you."
This has got to be the most heart-wrenching book of the entire Harry Potter series, yes notwithstanding the last book. Who knew that once one opens this book what will happen to the wizarding world as we know it? I was simply not prepared for it.
It is within these pages where we see the aftermath of Voldemort's return: of the senseless murders committed, of the atrocities he is prepared to do and the consequences that follow. We also learn that the Muggle government (well, at least the Prime Minister counterpart) is well aware of the magical community's existence. One can't help but be mad at the Ministry of Magic's attempt to make Harry a mascot for the Ministry, after the way they have treated and abused him. Too bad the Ministry cannot commit to an Unbreakable Vow like the one performed by Snape with Narcissa, in order to protect Draco.
Speaking of Draco, I must say that I found it frustrating on the part of Harry that his two bestfriends kept downplaying his hunches of Voldemort's plan. The evidence's staring them right at the face, but of course one couldn't foresee in way did Professor Dumbledore play in Draco's redemption and changing of ways in the last book. One can't help but feel a twinge of pity for him, for fearing for one's life and that of your family's.
Another character who's torn in terms of familal obligations (although on a different level) is Neville -- he who will show his own brand of inner strength before the book series comes to an end. "Hmph," snorted Professor McGonagall. "It's high time your grandmother learned to be proud of the grandson she's got, rather than the one she thinks she ought to have -- particularly after what happened at the Ministry."
The Weasley family is not spared in this installment. They have committed (and have placed in danger) all of their family members, in the quest of possibly defeating Voldemort and the Death Eaters. If I felt my heart skip a beat upon the possibility of Mr. Weasley dying within the Department of Mysteries in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" , what more of Ron almost dying due to poison fully intended for Professor Dumbledore? "Dumbledore's told us how you saved him with the bezoar," she sobbed. "Oh, Harry, what can we say? You saved Ginny... you saved Arthur... now you've saved Ron..." "Half our family does seem to owe you their lives, now I stop and think about it," Mr. Weasley said in a constricted voice. "Well, all I can say is that it was a lucky day for the Weasleys when Ron decided to sit in your compartment on the Hogwarts Express, Harry."
Add to that the instance of Bill being bitten by Greyback and the possibility of being turned into a werewolf. I was proud of Fleur for standing behind the man she's about to marry. "You thought I would not weesh to marry him? Or per'aps, you hoped?" said Fleur, her nostrils flaring. "What do I care how he looks? I am good looking for both of us, I theenk! All these scars show is zat my husband is brave!" And then, Harry did not quite see how it happened, both women were crying and hugging each other.
It's lucky that Bill won't transform into a full-fledge werewolf and not suffer the prejudice that has been felt by Professor Lupin right from the start. "But you are normal!" said Harry firecely. "You've just got a -- a problem -- " Lupin burst out laughing. "Sometimes you remind me a lot of James. He called it my 'furry little problem' in company. Many people were under the impression that I owned a badly behaved rabbit."
The mystery of Tonks's depression finally came to light towards the end, triggered by what has befallen Bill. "You see!" said a strained voice. Tonks was glaring at Lupin. "She still wants to marry him, even though he's been bitten! She doesn't care!" "It's different," said Lupin, barely moving his lips and looking suddenly tense. "I don't care either, I don't care!" said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin's robes and shaking them. "I've told you a million times..." "And I've told you a million times," said Lupin, refusing to meet her eyes, staring at the floor," that I am too old for you, too poor, too dangerous... "
I was excited when Rowling chose to devote a couple of pages to Fred's and George's Weasley Wizard Wheezes in their new store in Diagon Alley. One could use those Patented Daydream Charms of theirs, and I'd definitely want a purple Pgymy Puff of my own. Speaking of funny scenes, I laughed out loud when Professor Dumbledore decided to retrieve Harry from the Dursleys. It is their fault that they refuse to drink Professor Dumbledore's offer of oak-matured mead. Harry looked around; all three of the Dursleys were cowering with their arms over their heads as their glasses bounced up and down on their skulls, their contents flying everywhere.
Lessons proceeded back to normal (or as normal as they could possibly be) in Hogwarts School, with the introduction of the use of nonverbal spells in almost all of their subjects. It must've been a streak of rebelliousness in Harry's part to render Snape speechless in their Defense Against the Dark Arts class: "There's no need to call me 'sir,' Professor."
A hilarious bit was thrown in, involving Ron's family, Harry and Death Eaters: "There's no way they'd let me be a Death Eater!" said Ron indignantly. "My whole family are blood traitors! That's as bad as Muggle-borns to Death Eaters!" "And they'd love to have me," said Harry sarcastically. "We'd be best pals if they didn't keep trying to do me in."
There is also the introduction of Apparition lessons, with a preview of Side-Along Apparition done by Harry and Professor Dumbledore in the opening chapters. I can't help but agree with a lot of Hogwarts students in the importance of having a license to perform disappearing and appearing. Frustration was running high and there was a certain amount of ill-feeling toward Wilkie Twycross and his three D's, which had inspired a number of nicknames for him, the politest of which were Dogbreath and Dunghead.
Frankly, I never thought I'd find Potions to be exciting were it not for the introduction of a new character, Professor Slughorn as the new Potions Master. Where else shall we see Harry perform admirably (the helping hand of the Half-Blood Prince can't be striked out however) and get to know various highly interesting potions such as Amortentia (the most powerful love potion in the world) and Felix Felicis (liquid luck that'll make an ordinary day extraordinary). Smelling the latter also gave us a clue of who might be Harry's true love: They chose the one nearest a gold-colored cauldron that was emitting one of the most seductive scents Harry had ever inhaled: Somehow it reminded him of treacle tart, the woody smell of a broomstick handle, and something flowery he might have smelled at the Burrow.
But that's getting ahead of ourselves. The relationship which seemed to be the focus was the one brewing between Ron and Hermione. There were instances of Ron's near jealousy over Harry's closeness to Hermione but did seem to pay off in his favor come his Gryffindor team try-outs: "If you ask me," said Harry quietly. "McLaggen looks like he was Confunded this morning. And he was standing right in front of where you were sitiing." "Oh, all right, I did it," she whispered. "But wasn't that dishonest, Hermione? I mean, you're a prefect, aren't you?" "Oh, be quiet," she snapped, as he smirked.
Unfortunately it was Harry who found himself suddenly caught in the middle of this on-off relationship between his two bestfriends. It was not as though he was really surprised, thought Harry; he had an inkling that this might happen sooner or later. But he was not sure how he felt about it... What if Ron and Hermione started going out together, then split up? Could their friendship survive it? What if they become like Bill and Fleur, and it became excruciatingly embarrassing to be in their presence, so that he was shut out for good?
Ron behaved like a total prat with his immature and inconsistent jealousy of Hermione going out with Victor Krum a long time ago. He felt the need to retaliate by going out with Lavender who ends up sending him a thick gold chain of a necklace with a pendant "My Sweetheart" and calls him "Won-won" in front of his mates. I can't help but feel triumphant for Hermione, but at the same time couldn't see a way for them to come out in the open with their feelings. "She can't complain," he told Harry. "She snogged Krum. So she's found out someone wants to snog me too. Well, it's a free country. I haven't done anything wrong."
"He's at perfect liberty to kiss whomever he likes," said Hermione. "I really couldn't care less."
Meanwhile Harry finds himself in a predicament of confronting his real feelings for Ginny, after experiencing pangs of jealousy of seeing her with Dean. A bigger issue is that of the possibility of choosing Ginny over his friendship with Ron: She's Ron's sister. But she's ditched Dean! She's still Ron's sister! I'm his best mate! That'll make it worse. If I talked to him first -- He'll hit you. What if I don't care? He's your best mate!
I was blissfully happy when Harry and Ginny finally ended up together. Readers are provided with how this change of feelings within both Harry and Ginny actually occurred. Harry looked around; there was Ginny running toward him; she had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him. And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her.
I never really gave up on you," she said. "Not really. I always hoped... Hermione told me to get on with my life, maybe go out with some other people, relax a bit around you, because I never used to be able to talk if you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more -- myself." "Smart girl, that Hermione," said Harry, trying to smile. "I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could've had ages... months... years maybe..." "But you've been too busy saving the Wizarding world," said Ginny, half laughing. "Well... I can't say I'm surprised. I knew this would happen in the end. I knew you wouldn't be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort. Maybe that's why I like you so much."
But as easily as it was for them to naturally fall for each other, it seems even more easy to forget that Harry's task is still ahead of him. Owing to his special classes with Professor Dumbledore, we learn of the parentage and early life of Voldemort, as the young orphan Tom Riddle. We get a glimpse of memories painstakingly research by Professor Dumbledore in order to aid the 'Chosen One' who's prophesized to defeat the Dark Lord. "You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!" said Dumbledore loudly. "The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort's! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of eleven, when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart's desire, and it showed you only the way to thwart Lord Voldemort, and not immortality or riches." "I'd want him finished," said Harry quietly. "And I'd want to do it."
We now know about the real identity of the Half-Blood Prince, Snape overhearing Professor Trelawney's prediction regarding the 'Chosen One' and the request of Voldemort to become a professor at Hogwarts (resulting to a curse placed upon the Defense Against the Dark Arts post), the precious artifacts left behind by the Hogwarts Founders which were turned into Horcruxes by Voldemort in order to chase after immortality. The scene of Harry and Dumbledore retrieving Merope's necklace at the cave was the most frightful thing I've ever read within the book series. All of these are important to remember once one begins to read the final book in hopes of solving the location of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
The moment of Professor Dumbledore's death is the most shocking of all. As a Harry Potter fan, you don't want to believe it. Almost, you are waiting for a deux machina to undo the killing curse done by Snape. When Harry felt the spell wore off of him and when Hagrid picked up Professor Dumbledore's body from where it had fallen, I thought that there must be a magical cure for what has been done. After all, he's Dumbledore! It can't be possible for him to be beat, to be dead -- and at the hands of one he trusted. When his portrait appeared in the Headmaster's office, I felt that maybe he is dead. It was confirmed when Fawkes sang his mournful song, and I knew that the greatest wizard is now gone. "No other headmaster or headmistress ever gave more to this school," growled Hagrid. "Hogwarts should be Dumbledore's final resting place," said Professor Flitwick. "Absolutely," said Professor Sprout. "And in that case," said Harry, "you shouldn't send the students home until the funeral's over. They'll want to say -- " The last word caught in his throat, but Professor Sprout completed the sentence for him. "Goodbye."
Title Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... And the Da"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies... " Finally all the questions that Harry Potter fans have been yearning for is finally revealed by no other than Headmaster Dumbledore. I imagine that Harry must've been relieved to finally uncover the reasons why Voldemort sought him out in the first place and the events in the series culminating into this current book.
But that is not all that's darkly different when Harry goes back to Hogwarts. In fact, he didn't even have time to go back to his classes when ominous things started happening. Foremost was of course the appearance of dementors near Dursleys' residence and the discovery of Mrs. Figg as a Squib tasked to keep an eye on Harry under Professor Dumbledore's orders. I have to admit that I never saw that one coming, I just dismissed her as a neighbor back in the start of the series. But if it were not for the dementor attack, Harry wouldn't have realized how aware Aunt Petunia seems to be of the wizarding world which she claims to despise greatly. That's even more unlikely than Mrs. Figg being a Squib, I tell you.
An addition to the characters we all love is that of Nymphadora Tonks or just plain Tonks as she preferred to be addressed. She turns out to be this Metamorphmagus or one who can change her appearance at will. That is such a useful talent, isn't it? She's introduced as part of the advance guard who fetches Harry in order to take him to # 12 Grimmauld Place or simply known as the HQ of the Order of the Phoenix.
It was there that we get to know Sirius's family background (that he turns out to be the only Gryffindor member of his mainly Slytherin family): the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. The mania that's the intermarriages and interbreeding prevalent in pureblood families comes into a most unflattering light, resulting in almost all of them being related to one another. Sirius being related to the Weasleys, for example, and well, being distantly related to the sisters Bellatrix & Narcissa Black. How Sirius must've loathed being back at home -- a place he has detested with his entire being! Talking about families, it has now come to light what Percy would be willing to sacrifice in the name of his career and his ambition. I feel most sorry for the Weasley family in having spawned such a son/brother.
I was shocked for a second during the scene where Mrs. Weasley was holding the dead body of Ron. Thankfully it turned out to be only a boggart. I simply cannot imagine the Harry Potter series without Ron in it. It's a grim foretelling of what'll happen to the Weasley family come the end of the book series (both in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"). Adding to the woes of everyone is the discrediting tactics of the Ministry of Magic aimed against Professor Dumbledore (who has been demoted from his many exalted posts) and Harry (painted as a "deluded, attention-seeking person who thinks he's a great tragic hero") resulting in his hearing against the whole Wizengamot court.
This was followed by the appointment of Umbridge (I can't even imagine calling her a "professor") to the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts and ultimately as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts with all her educational decrees (fully supported by Filch & her Inquisitorial Squad of course). I cannot imagine a more despicable person (followed closely by Professor Snape, Minister Fudge and Rita Skeeter, in that order). Hem, hem. She was the one responsible for drafting an anti-werewolf legislation, making it impossible for Professor Lupin to get a job! But Hogwarts students found a way to fight back: first was the establishment (owing to Hermione's brilliant idea) of Dumbledore's Army or shortened as the D.A. Dobby enters the picture by directing Harry and the others to the best-kept secret of Hogwarts: the Room of Requirement. The walls were lined with wooden bookcases, and instead of chairs there were large silk cushions on the floor. A set of shelves at the far end of the room carried a range of instruments such as Sneakoscopes, Secrecy Sensors, and a large, cracked Foe-Glass.
The close second would have to be what would go down in Hogwarts history: the stunts of Fred and George. Can't wait to read about the established Weasleys Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. "Give us hell from us, Peeves." And Peeves, whom Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset.
Unfortunately the discovery of the D.A. forced Headmaster Dumbledore's hand into claiming responsibility for it. Minister Fudge was foolish enough to believe that he'll be able to get a chance to imprison Professor Dumbledore in Azkaban! "I have absolutely no intention of being sent to Azkaban, I could break out, of course -- but what a waste of time, and frankly, I can think of a whole host of things I would rather be doing."
Harry heard Phineas Nigellus's voice. "You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts... but you cannot deny he's got style..." I felt very frustrated at the happenings within the castle when Professor Dumbledore left (fortunately his office sealed itself against Umbridge; serves her right), namely Umbridge's attempts of harming Hagrid (poor Fang, getting hit by Stunning Spells) and successfully sending Professor McGonagall to St. Mungo's.
St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries is the place where we get to find out what has happened to Professor Lockhart after a badly attempted Memory Charm back in . A more depressing scene was that of Neville's parents, who were tortured primarily by Bellatrix Lestrange. My heart goes out to Neville, for having parents brave enough to withstand Voldemort and in the end, become insane and not even recognize their son whenever he visits them. Neville looked around at the others, his expression defiant, as though daring them to laugh."
The most successful attempt of overthrowing Umbridge was of course the tell-all interview given by Harry to The Quibbler, as written by Rita Skeeter who's being blackmailed by Hermione. After such a triumph and of suceeding in converting the rest of Hogwarts students to the truth, it was a matter of time before Umbridge's dislodged from her throne. Professor Sprout awarded Gryffindor twenty points when Harry passed her a watering can; a beaming Professor Flitwick passed a box of squeaking sugar mice on him at the end of Charms, said "Shh!" and hurried away; and Professor Trelawney broke into hysterical sobs during Divination and announced to the startled class, and a very disapproving Umbridge, that Harry was not going to suffer an early death after all, but would live to a ripe old age, become Minister of Magic, and have twelve children.
A quirky addition Harry's group was Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood (who'll play a bigger part in the last book of the series) who was one of the few to assure Harry of his saneness at seeing thestrals. It was also her, Ginny & Neville who accompanied the trio on their rescue mission of Sirius within the Ministry's Department of Mysteries.
Further welcome developments in the book include that of Ginny's newfound ability in overcoming her shyness around Harry (by overcoming her crush on him), Neville excelling in the D.A., and Harry's first crush, first date and yes, first kiss with Cho Chang. Unfortunately he has no idea on how to deal with this surge of new emtions and discusses it with his two bestfriends. It was the funniest bit in the book when Hermione blew Ron out of the water due to his insensitiveness of the situation: "Ron," said Hermione in a dignified voice, dipping the point of her quill into her ink pot, "you are the most insensitive wart I have ever had the misfortune to meet."
"Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have," said Hermione nastily, picking up her quill again.
In the midst of all of these happenings was the O.W.L.S., a very important exam for fifth-years that'll determine who'll go on to take up their N.E.W.T.S. "We shouldn't have taken the stupid subject in the first place," said Harry. "And from now on, I don't care if my tea leaves spell 'die, Ron, die' -- I'm just chucking them in the bin where they belong."
What a stringent situation-controlled event the O.W.L.S. turned out to be! I liked the part when Harry was asked to perform a Patronus Charm for a bonus point. "Now, I must warn you that the most stringent Anti-Cheating Charms have been applied to your examination papers. Auto-Answer Quills are banned from the examination hall, as are Remembralls, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs, and Self-Correcting Ink."
Not to be missed was the Career Advice of Hogwarts students with their respective Head of House. Harry has the now burning desire to become an Auror (as suggested to him by the impostor Moody) and I couldn't agree more that such is the perfect career path for him. "I should have made my meaning plainer," said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge straight in the eyes. "He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher."
"Potter," she said in ringing tones, "I will assist you to become an Auror if it is the last thing I do! If I have to coach you nightly I will make sure you achieve the required results!"
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" ends on a very sad note: that of the death of Harry's godfather, Sirius Black. I simply could not believe it when he died due to the curse thrown at him by his own cousin and when he fell back into the veil at the Department of Mysteries. I cannot help but feel that were it not for the botched up Occlumency lessons between Professor Snape and Harry, then certainly The-Boy-Who-Lived wouldn't be that acessible to Voldemort accessing his thoughts. It was too late when Professor Dumbledore realized that the utmost enmity between Snape & James Potter could not be easily forgotten. Shame on Kreacher for betraying Sirius and resulting to his death (no matter how he behaved in the seventh book)! I guess I fully expected the rush of anger and the emotional outburst of Harry, over the unfairness of it all. "I don't care!" Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. "I've had enough, I've seen enough, I want out, I want it to end, I don't care anymore -- "
Title Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
As Hagrid has said, what would come, would come... and he would have to meet it when it did.
Long before her fourth installment appeared, Rowling warnAs Hagrid has said, what would come, would come... and he would have to meet it when it did.
Long before her fourth installment appeared, Rowling warned that it would be darker, and it's true that every exhilaration is equaled by a moment that has us fearing for Harry's life, the book's emotions running as deep as its dangers.
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" proved to be the darkest book in the series so far, the lines are drawn more clearly and powerfully than ever before in the ongoing struggle of good versus evil, as we witness the rebirth of Voldemort back into his old body, aided by horrific spells and the contribution of flesh, blood and bone. It is made clearer to the readers exactly what was so appalling during the reign of Voldemort and of his Death Eaters; we now know what the Dark Mark is and what were the Unforgivable Curses (Avada Kedavra, Imperius, Cruciatus) used to frighten and punish everybody into submission.
Readers are immediately introduced to the Riddle House (which would play a bigger part later in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" ) and are exposed to the established connection between the Dark Lord and Harry Potter via his lightning bolt-shaped scar. There was the painful part when the reader shares the same thoughts of Harry -- of no escape from Voldemort when restored to power -- were it not for the occurence of Priori Incantatem due to the sharing of the magical core of their wands. I was shocked when Cedric died, it had seemed so unnecessary at the time. But that is what's shockingly terrifying of Voldemort -- the total disregard of innocent lives -- of destroying whoever stands in the way.
Light-hearted moments can be had when we find ourselves realizing exactly how do wizards and witches blend into the Muggle world if, and when, forced by circumstances. A fine example was the crowd who were jostling to set up camp in order to watch the Quidditch World Cup: A little farther on they passed a tent that had three floors and several turrets; and a short way beyond that was a tent that had a front garden attached, complete with birdbath, sundial, and fountain. And don't forget Archie, the wizard who insists on wearing a long flowery nightgown as his Muggle disguise!
And now we're set; swept into the contagious excitement and frenzy that is the 422th Quidditch World Cup: Bulgaria vs. Ireland. As Muggles we get to read about how professional Quidditch is supposed to be played, with Krum being the crowd favorite. Who knew that leprechaun gold vanishes after a couple of hours? Or that veela women can really make you want to say or do extraordinary things just to make them notice you?
We make the acquaintance of the two older Weasleys, Charlie & Bill and are also made aware of the existence of Portkeys as another way to travel long distances. A glimpse of Percy and his ambition is already being given foundation to, what with his entering the employment of the Ministry of Magic. And lest we forget, Fred and George and their plans of establishing Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Remember the Ton-Tongue Toffee which Fred "accidentally" dropped for Dudley to consume? You kne instinctively that the twins will be a success at what seems to be their inborn talent: that of pranks and having a blast in life. "Take it," he said, and he thrust the sack into George's hands. "It's for the joke shop." "Listen," Harry said firmly. "If you don't take it, I'm throwing it down the drain. I don't want it and I don't need it. But I could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I've got a feeling we're going to need them more than usual before long."
A new house elf is introduced in the form of Barty Crouch's house-elf Winky, aided by Dobby's appearance (who finds employment in Hogwarts' kitchens, since he finds it hard for wizards to come to terms of a house-elf as an employee and not as a slave). We note how he's adjusting to a life not anymore bound in slavery but that of a free elf: "Professor Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends off," said Dobby, suddenly giving a little shiver, as though the prospect of so much leisure and riches were frightening, "but Dobby beat him down, miss... Dobby likes freedom, miss, but he isn't wanting too much, miss, he likes work better." Ahem, Hermione and her campaign for S.P.E.W. and Ron kidding her regarding the House-Elf Liberation Front. Watch out for Ron more or less imbibing S.P.E.W.'s doctrines later in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".
Also answered is something that I'm curious about: the possibility of Muggle technology in Harry's magical world. "All those substitutes for magic Muggles use -- electricity, computers, and radar, and all those things -- they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there's too much magic in the air." Hmmm, I know, no internet even if I do get my Hogwarts letter...?
Along the way, Rowling conjures up more new characters as Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, one of the best Aurors there is who may or may not be getting paranoid in his old age. I was flabbergasted when the impostor Moody was made to drink Veritaserum; I kept thinking, no way, he can't possibly betray Dumbledore. "Because you've got to know. You've got to appreciate what the worst is. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you're facing it. Constant Vigilance!"
I owe it to Moody who gave a comedic turn to this book when he gave Ron what he dearly wished for: "Don't talk to me," Ron said quietly to Harry and Hermione. "Why not?" Hermione asked in surprise. "Because I want to fix that in my memory forever," said Ron, his eyes closed and an uplifted expression on his face. "Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret..."
We also have the very nosy Rita Skeeter, armed with her Quick-Quotes Quill that turns even the most innocent assertion into tabloid innuendo. Hurray for Hermione for teaching her a much-deserved lesson in the end! I laughed out loud when the golden trio railed against her in Dumbledore's presence (since she almost suceeded in getting Hagrid sacked due to her article in The Daily Prophet): "I have gone temporarily deaf and haven't any idea what you said, Harry," said Dumbledore, twiddling his thumbs and staring at the ceiling.
It was great that Rowling has decided to enlighten her readers regarding the many different nationalities of witches and wizards around the world, from very young children to middle-aged ones. And nothing exemplifies this more than the 700 year old friendly competition that is the Triwizard Tournament. We're introduced to Dumstrang Institute and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic; both schools responsible for producing Europe's future wizards & witches. Both are proud to located in an Unplottable area and armed with Muggle-repelling charms like Hogwarts is. Reiterated once more was the differences between the students specially selected for the Four Houses of Hogwarts as sung by the Sorting Hat: "In Gryffindor, the bravest were Prized beyond the rest; For Ravenclaws, the cleverest Would always be the best; For Hufflepuff, hard workers were Most worthy of admission; And power-hungry Slytherin Loved those of great ambition." and now Rowling aims to widen our perspective by including others outside of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Unfortunately the Triwizard Tournament brought a strain to the close friendship shared by Harry and Ron: He thought he could have coped with the rest of the school's behavior if he could just have had Ron back as a friend, but he wasn't going to try and persuade Ron to talk to him if Ron didn't want to. Neverheless, it wasy with dislike pouring in on him from all sides. but which was resolved later. After all, that's what true friendship is, after all. "There you go, Harry!" Ron shouted over the noise. "You weren't being thick after all -- you were showing moral fiber!"
But it was interesting to note the development of Ron's and Hermione's relationship, due to the Yule Ball. This just proves that girls do mature faster than boys: "Hermione, Neville's right -- you are a girl..." "Just because it has taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn't mean no one else has spotted I'm a girl!" "Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!"
Serious topics are discussed and learned: of believing in yourself, of not allowing biases and prejudice to color one's attitude towards everything and everyone, and of the importance of true friends who believe in you: He looked at Harry for a moment and then said, very seriously, "Yeh know what I'd love, Harry? I'd love yeh ter win, I really would. It'd show 'em all... yeh don' have ter win, I really would. It'd show 'em all... yeh don' have ter do it. Yeh don' have ter be ashamed of what yeh are. It'd show 'em Dumbledore's the one who's got it righ', lettin' anyone in as long as they can do magic."
Title Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
Following Harry Potter's defeat of Tom Riddle when the latter was a Hogwarts student, it's now time to expl"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Following Harry Potter's defeat of Tom Riddle when the latter was a Hogwarts student, it's now time to explore other magical implements abundant in Harry's world. One prime example is the triple-decker, violently purple Knight Bus (the equivalent of taxis for lost Muggles perhaps?), magic mirrors that talk back (first introduced in Harry's room within the Leaky Cauldron), more fascinating shops in Diagon Alley, the Time-Turner (very tempting magical item indeed) and of course the now famous Marauders'Map. "Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present The Marauders Map"
Add to this the enticement presented by Hogsmeade Village (the only entirely non-Muggle settlement in all of Britain) located nearby Hogwarts. Here you can visit the post office, Zonko's (where Fred & George routinely refresh their supplies), the Three Broomsticks (serving the most delicious hot butterbeer) and of course, Honeydukes: "It's this sweetshop," said Ron, a dreamy look coming over his face, "where they've got everything...Pepper Imps -- they make you smoke at the mouth -- and great fat Chocoballs full of strawberry mousse and clotted cream, and really excellent sugar quills, which you can suck in class and just look like you're thinking what to write next --" "-- and massive sherbert balls that make you levitate a few inches off the ground while you're sucking them," said Ron.
I was never really a sports-fan but I thoroughly enjoyed the emotional high experienced by the Gryffindor team when they played against Ravenlaw (ahem, Harry meeting Cho Chang and experiencing the first pangs of teenage crush) to finally win the much-coveted Quidditch Cup: Then Wood was speeding toward him, half-blinded by tears; he seized Harry around the neck and sobbed unrestrainedly into his shoulder. Harry felt two large thumps as Fred and George hit them; then Angelina's, Alicia's, and Katie's voices, "We've won the Cup! We've won the Cup!" Tangled together in a many-armed hug, the Gryffindor team sank, yelling hoarsely, back to earth. Plus I think Lee Jordan's the best Hogwarts commentator during the Quidditch games (yes, better than Luna Lovegood in my opinion). Remember when Harry received his Firebolt from Sirius Black as thirteen years' worth of birthdays? "Jordan! Are you being paid to advertise Firebolts? Get on with the commentary!" Highly entertaining; makes you feel like you're watching the game alongside him.
Of course, an additional book to the Harry Potter series wouldn't be complete without the introduction of new and interesting characters. If anyone loathed Lockhart in the previous book for being such an obvious fraud, one is made to hold judgment in the case of Professor Sybill Trelawney, the Divination teacher. I guess it's because of Headmaster Dumbledore's comment later in the book when he mentioned that she already gave two authentic predictions so far. But I'm grateful for her presence due to the comedic additions such as: Harry, at last, felt extremely foolish, staring blankly at the crystal ball, trying to keep his mind empty when thoughts such as "this is stupid" kept drifting across it. "I don't need help," Ron whispered. "It's obvious what this means. There's going to be loads of fog tonight." Both Harry and Hermione burst out laughing. Kudos to Hermione for dismissing Divination as a worthy subject to study, but I wouldn't say the same thing if it was a True Seer who's conducting the lessons.
If Hagrid openly expressed his suspicion of Lockhart's lack of authenticity, Professor McGonagall is more tactful with hers regarding Trelawney: "You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don't let you off homework today. I assure you that if you die, you need not hand it in."
A more important character, Professor Remus Lupin was introduced early on, riding the Hogwarts Express train car with Harry, Hermione and Ron. Without his introduction, we wouldn't have known how to best keep Dementors at bay with the highly advanced Patronus Charm. Concentrate on a very happy memory of yours, everyone! Wonder what my own Patronus Charm would be like?
It was just a disappointment when he was forced to resign owing to him being a werewolf. I guess he's the "tamest" and most academically-inclined werewolf one'll ever meet. I laughed out loud during his introductory lessons with the boggart in the wardrobe, using Neville's fear of Professor Snape: There was a noise like whip crack. Snape stumbled; he was wearing a long, lace-trimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth-eaten vulture, and he was swinging a huge crimson handbag.
And of course, during the dreaded finals, did anyone ever doubted what Hermione's greatest fear would be? He seems like a very good teacher," said Hermione approvingly. "But I wish I could have had a turn with the boggart --" "What would it have been for you?" said Ron, sniggering. "A piece of homework that only got a nine out of ten?"
"Hermione!" said Lupin, startled. "What's the matter?" "P--P--Professor McGonagall!" Hermione gasped, pointing into the trunk. "Sh--she said I'd failed everything!"
What makes "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" so interesting is you really get to learn about the relationships between James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and Severus Snape. You wonder what were they like during their student days in Hogwarts? It was impressive how they were able to transform themselves into Animagi, explore all the hidden passageways and the entire grounds of Hogwarts castle and get into all sorts of mischief in between while excelling in class at the same time.
The biggest shocker was of course the real reason why Sirius Black ended up in Azkaban in the first place and how he was able to escape. It sheds light on Scabbers's real identity, the friendship of the Marauders, the switch made regarding the Potters' Secret-Keeper involving the complicated Fidelius Charm (the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul). It must've crushed Harry knowing that there was a hastily snatched glimmer of hope he's going to live with Sirius instead of going back to the Dursleys's for the summer.
These five characters, and their relationships with one another, are huge portions of the foundation on which Rowling built her series. As though an invisible hand were writing upon it, words appeared on the smooth surface of the map. "Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business." "Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git." "Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor." "Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball."
Title Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
In the sequel following "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", we are no longer taken by the hand to explore the world beyond the barrier of PlatforIn the sequel following "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", we are no longer taken by the hand to explore the world beyond the barrier of Platform 9 and 3/4. Now is the time for Rowling to leave clues and innuendos to a lot of secrets and revelations that'll be sprinkled in the book series onwards. Now we can enjoy it along with a richer plot and more developed narrative and characters.
We get to meet Dobby, the house-elf (and little did I know of the sacrifices he'll make for Harry's sake later on in the series). It was hard to suspect Dobby of any maliciousness or that he make be taking orders from the wizarding family he serves, given his utmost sincerity in protecting Harry from the monster within the Chamber of Secrets. And yes, I cheered when he was finally given his freedom.
And finally, we get a glimpse of what a "normal" wizarding house must be like, in this case it is the Weasleys' house: The Burrow. It was interesting how the magical community live their daily lives and us, as Muggles, can only be in wonder of what would be deemed normal to them: magic cookbooks to whip up a scrumptious dish using your wand, a magical clock that's useful in knowing where your loved ones are, and that it's actually possible for a house to be architecturally sound since being held up, well, by magic.
I was delighted to know that wizards and witches can choose to travel by Floo Powder if they can't Apparate yet (since they won't be allowed to be traveling everywhere on their flying brooms either).
There was a glimpse of the reason why Filtch hates Hogwarts students that much (and why he'd side up with Umbridge later on), well, it's because he's a Squib owing to the damning evidence of a Kwikspell: A Correspondence Course in Beginners' Magic" manual on his office desk.
We get to meet possibly one of the worst caricatures of a teacher, the pompous know-it-all fraud who in reality just coasts by with just his looks: Gilderoy Lockhart. I guess this one's a reflection of the mundane world as any, since most would judge everything on appearances alone. Of course, most witches were seen to be under the spell of Lockhart's good looks: "Oh, come on," said Ron, wrenching it from her grasp and thrusting it at Madam Pince. "We'll get you another autograph. Lockhart'll sign anything if it stands long enough."
Amidst the excitement of driving Mr. Weasley's flying Ford Anglia and crashing it into the Whomping Willow, mumbling words while using Floo Powder and ending up in Knockturn Alley, encountering ghosts in the bathrooms and attending a Deathday Party on Halloween night, and the trip to an even more dangerous part of the Forbidden Forest and facing Aragog and his children, none can compare to the pureblood mania spawned by Salazar Slytherin when he built the Chamber of Secrets.
One couldn't help but wonder at the reason why Harry, like Slytherin, could be a Parseltongue and also share the same physical appearance of Tom Riddle. Of course, all answers are had by the end of the Harry Potter series and credit to Rowling for letting things build up and not give everything away as the series progress.
On a lighter note, giggles are from readers are not missing, although at the expense of Harry himself: "Harry," said Hagrid abruptly as though struck by a sudden thought. "Gotta bone to pick with yeh. I've heard you've bin givin' out signed photos. How come I haven't got one?" "I have not been giving out signed photos."
Fred and George, however, found all this very funny. They went out of their way to march ahead of Harry down the corridors, shouting, "Make way for the Heir of Slytherin, seriously evil wizard coming through..." "Oh, get out of the way, Percy," said Fred. "Harry's in a hurry." "Yeah, he's off to the Chamber of Secrets for a cup of tea with his fanged servant," said George, chortling.
Noticeable is the change in the characters of the trio, as they stand by their friendship and are willing to adjust in order to see things through. An example is Hermione's idea of using a Polyjuice Potion: "I never thought I'd see the day you'd be persuading us to break the rules," said Ron.
"I seem to remember telling you both that I would have to expel you if you broke any more school rules," said Dumbledore. "Which goes to show that the best of us must sometimes eat our words," Dumbledore went on, smiling. "You will both receive Special Awards for Services to the School and -- let me see -- yes, I think two hundred points apiece for Gryffindor."
Title Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
"There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday;"There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right places, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and Harry was sure the coats of armor could walk."
Honestly, I don't know anybody who'd refuse to even entertain the thought of attending a school for wizards. Yes, the experience itself may be daunting and scary but really, most of us would welcome an opportunity to escape the mundane world and enter one of the fantastical. And such is what "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is: an introduction to world that you could never have imagine may possibly exist.
I've already lost count as to how many times I've re-read the Harry Potter series. The plot and characters are well known and described in many reviews, so I will not address them. I don't even think I need to convince anybody to read these books and/or watch the movies. Harry Potter and the magical world that J.K. Rowling has creating (Leaky Cauldron, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts) in the first book alone have already become household names the world over that you have to be living under a rock if you haven't been aware of this phenomenon. "Welcome," said Hagrid, "to Diagon Alley." Harry wished he had eight more eyes. He turned his head in every direction as they walked up the street., trying to look at everything at once: the shops, the things outside them, the people doing their shopping. There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon...
I believe that I maybe counted as one of the millions of readers worldwide who wished something better for Harry Potter, especially being made aware of the miserable treatment done to him by his Muggle relatives. I too wish to know the contents of the mysterious letters which were detailedly addressed to the exact location of Harry. I cheered when Hagrid finally got a hold of Harry and conveyed to him the message that he'll be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that coming term. "Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting."
I was looking forward as well to the process of selecting a wizard's wand and what exactly it is that aids magic: "Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr. Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wans are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand."
Instead of retelling the plot of which most people are already familiar with, I'd like to post here my favorite scenes and quotes from the book itself. One treat was finding out the type of delicious treats available to those who travel aboard the Hogwarts Express: "What she did have were Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Droobles Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life."
I didn't expect the fast and true friendship that would form between Harry, Hermione and Ron. Early on we've managed to catch glimpses of the personalities of the two boys but of Hermione, I snickered: "I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed -- or worse, expelled."
One item (aside from a witch's wand) that I'd like to have is most probably Harry's Invisibility Cloak. Just think of the possibilities! And yes, I wouldn't pass up the chance to stand in front of the Mirror of Erised: "I show not your face but your heart's desire." No matter what Dumbledore may say that: "It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts."
The best laugh out loud moment of the entire book would be: "Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare...what did Professor Sprout say? -- it likes the dark and the damp --" "So light sa fire!" Harry choked. "Yes -- of course -- but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands. "Have you done mad?" Ron bellowed. "Are you a witch or not?"
But what would make one continue reading and ultimately finishing the Harry Potter series? It's because, like Harry and the rest of the magical world, we all want to know what exactly happened that night when Voldemort tried to kill the Potter family. How was it possible that Harry, as a mere baby at the time, survived? Would the friendship between Harry, Ron & Hermione survive the test of being constantly thrust into the limelight fraught with dangers? Why does Prof. Snape hate Harry so much, that you couldn't help tagging him as the one trying to steal the Sorcerer's Stone all this time? "The truth." Dumbledore sighed. "It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should be treated with great caution."
Title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more