Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Book Review

Disclaimers: I review works of art like literature as independent of their creators. Just because I support the Harry Potter books does not mean I support J.K. Rowling’s actions, statements, and/or views. This review contains my opinions. You don’t have to agree with me.

This post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I first read this book when I was 9. I reread it when I was 11 and 21. I’ll start by discussing the things I noticed every time. Then I’ll share what I noticed during my reread as an adult. I’ll wrap up by pointing out plot holes and other unanswered questions. This series is rather famous for having interesting plot holes. I point them out jokingly. Younger me didn’t notice them, and since this series is geared toward a younger audience, I think that’s all that matters. Adult me needs to just enjoy the story and stop asking so many questions. I also realize some of the plot holes are addressed on Pottermore, in the author’s tweets, etc., but these are things that need to be included in the books, not supplemental material.

I love the characters and their agency. Sirius Black is my favorite. I love that he wanted to take in Harry as a baby. I like that he watches Harry’s Quidditch matches. I also love the Weasley kids, especially the twins. Their sibling banter is great. I particularly like that the twins teach Harry how to pick locks the Muggle way, although that’s never used later on. Hermione’s greatest fear, which is represented by the boggart during finals, is hilarious. Hermione also has some guts when she slaps Malfoy. Harry’s pretty bold too. He blackmails the Dursleys in the beginning in regards to his Hogsmeade form, and he threatens them at the end saying his criminal godfather will be checking in on him. I also really like that Snape is always saving Harry. As much as they hate each other, Snape really looks out for Harry when it matters.

I love the introduction to the Marauders and their map. That map has to be one of the best magical items I’ve ever seen in a book. One of my favorite moments is when Snape investigates the blank piece of parchment Harry’s carrying around (the disguised map), and it insults him. I also really like Trelawney’s predictions and warnings.

I love the plotting and the foreshadowing. I like the tension with Sirius Black. I’m glad the book skips the boring scenes and keeps a fast pace. The plot twists in this book are pretty great too.

Now for adult me’s thoughts. I still don’t like the writing style. There are too many exclamation points, all caps, italics, adverbs, dashes, etc. I don’t like the dialogue tags. They annoy me. The dialects are hard to read. There’s a lot of info-dumping and telling in this book that we don’t really see in the earlier books. Lupin is described as “shabby” about a gazillion times. There has to be another word for that. And Lupin’s character should be described as something other than shabby because he is actually a competent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

At one point, Harry says Snape only gives loathing looks to him, but there’s a time when Snape gives Lupin a loathing look, so Harry’s wrong. Snape hates Lupin too. Also, I’m noticing a pattern: Why do all the crazy things happen on Harry’s birthday and Halloween?

Now for the plot hole bonus round. Why does Harry want to go to Hogsmeade so badly? If he’s going to sneak there using secret passageways and the invisibility cloak, I want to know his motivations.

Why was Lupin on the train? This is the one and only time there’s a professor on the train. Why did Neville tell people Harry fainted? If he were Harry’s true friend, he’d keep that information to himself.

Why do staff members keep their spare robes in the staff room instead of their private rooms? How did a student find Dumbledore’s office when it’s hidden?

How do Fred and George afford joke products? The financial state of the Weasley family is made clear over and over again, yet Fred and George buy lots of things from Zonko’s Joke Shop. The twins give Harry the Marauder’s Map because they’ve memorized it, but memorizing it doesn’t allow them to know where people are. Filch unfortunately doesn’t stay in the same place all the time.

Why does Harry never use his invisibility cloak? If I had that cloak, I would use it all the time.

Lupin trusted Snape to brew his potion? If I were Lupin and had animosity between myself and Snape, I would not drink anything he brewed.

Wasn’t anyone suspicious when Sirius’s account was used to buy a Firebolt? Do the goblins just ignore it when escaped convicts withdraw money from their accounts?

Bonus question: How did Percy get and keep a girlfriend?

Those are my adult reader, nit-picky opinions. This book seems to have fewer plot holes than the previous two, so that’s nice. Maybe I didn’t notice as many because I like this book more. Sirius makes all the difference. And third books tend to be better than debuts. Writers generally improve with time and practice.

What do you think of this book? Have you noticed any of the plot holes? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments.

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