Becky's Reviews > Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
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Aug 06, 14

Read in October, 2010, read count: a lot

** spoiler alert ** It's fair enough to say that I like this book too much to review it objectively. I *am* puzzled by how nothing very much happens in the middle - Harry is not actively pursuing any mysteries, just receiving fun infodumps, playing Quidditch, worrying about dementors, and being in the center of Ron and Hermione's fight - but it's still extremely entertaining. By contrast, Chamber of Secrets is very focused on the central plot, and as a result we spend less time just enjoying Hogwarts as a setting.

I did notice the THEMES this time. Pretty much every subplot is about deciding who or what to trust or fear, with animals representing the threat of the unknown. The Grim/Sirius, Lupin, Buckbeak, and Crookshanks are all falsely accused of violence. Conversely, Peter the rat actually is the traitor that his form connotes, and even Lupin lives up to his werewolf reputation by not telling Dumbledore about Sirius's Animagus form.

Additionally, I noticed that the questions of causality and responsibility surrounding the Potters' death are neatly paralleled by the causality tricks with the Time-Turner at the end (and of course, by the Animagi themselves - not all is as it appears). JKR really is a clever writer, even if she does use way too many ellipses.

Finally, Snape's scenes near the end are so much more fun to read knowing that he believes Sirius is responsible for Lily's death.

Rereading August 2014: The themes of vengeance and forgiveness are more obvious but also really strong. The Trio have just left the scene of Buckbeak's (apparent) wrongful death when they're presented with the moral quandaries of Sirius Black's innocence and Peter Pettigrew's betrayal. Like Snape, Harry's first impulse is revenge, but the moral horror of Buckbeak's death is very much the backdrop of his decision to listen to Sirius and then prevent Pettigrew's death. (The implication being that all human beings have a kind of animal vulnerability that should be respected?)

In the seventh book, Snape's love of Lily is presented as redemptive, but here's the other side of that coin: his obsessive hatred of James, Harry, and Sirius, whom he associates with her death. Snape's passion is so compelling, in a Victorian novel kind of way.
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