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 Goblet of Fire.
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 that Harry threatens the Dursleys by telling them about Sirius. I also love Fred’s prank on Dudley. Leave it to the Weasley twins to make me laugh. The Weasley sibling banter is great too. Sirius and the twins are my favorite characters. Another thing that usually makes me laugh is the taunts Malfoy and the other characters trade with each other. The friendships in this book are great. I particularly like when Harry gives his Triwizard Tournament winnings to the twins.
I like the plotting and foreshadowing, especially with the portkeys and Pensieve. Sometimes the book feels quick paced, and I like those parts. I also like the funny moments throughout.
Now for adult me’s thoughts. I know I sound like a broken record (if you’ve read my other Harry Potter reviews), but I still don’t like the writing style for all the same reasons. The dialects are hard to read. I don’t like the style of dialogue tags. There are too many italics, all caps, ellipses, dashes, exclamation points, and adverbs.
There’s a lot of info-dumping and telling. There are boring sections. There are a lot of clichés. There are stereotypes, e.g. Ali sells magic carpets. The same descriptions are used over and over again, e.g. Hagrid’s eyes are beetle-black, and Krum is round-shouldered and duck-footed.
There are lots of inconsistencies in this book. There are the usual inconsistencies with the trace and summer homework, but now there are added ones with the time, running vs. sliding through the train platform, and Myrtle preferring the U-bend vs. the S-bend.
Mad Eye seems too suspicious. His behavior just screams “I’m the bad guy.” Didn’t Dumbledore notice his odd behavior? I also hate Rita. Her sucking a quill is gross, and her being alone in a broom cupboard with 14-year-old Harry is inappropriate. She irritates me.
Now for my favorite part: the plot hole bonus round.
Why is Peter Pettigrew going by Wormtail? Voldemort claims he can tell when people are lying. Is this true? If so, how does he do it? Harry tells Sirius his scar hurts after having a dream, but he fails to mention the dream is about Voldemort. That seems like an important detail.
Why do four Weasleys have to pick up Harry? Isn’t one enough? Why do the wizards use a Muggle campground for the Quidditch World Cup? That’s just asking for trouble.
Why does Malfoy take Care of Magical Creatures when it’s optional? If he hates Hagrid so much, he should take a different class.
Why can Harry fight the Imperius Curse?
How can the two headmasters (Karkaroff and Maxim) be gone from their schools? Who’s teaching the foreign students who are visiting Hogwarts? Do they take classes with the Hogwarts students? Who lets a Death Eater like Karkaroff run a school?
Harry’s underage, therefore the contract with the Goblet of Fire should be void. What happens if Harry refuses to participate in the Triwizard Tournament? I highly doubt students are allowed to enter binding contracts that have fatal consequences if broken like an Unbreakable Vow. How do the students not hear the dragons roaring in the Forbidden Forest?
The second and third Triwizard Tournament tasks aren’t good spectator events. Why did the “hostages” have to spend the night in the lake for the second event? Couldn’t they have been placed there in the morning? Why did Harry think the “hostages” would die if he didn’t save them? What kind of school allows their students to die in competitions just because the competitors didn’t rescue them?
Why did the Triwizard Cup have to be the portkey? “Moody” could’ve handed Harry any number of objects over the course of the school year. Why didn’t Harry use his invisibility cloak in the maze?
At one point, Harry’s looking for the kitchens, and he doesn’t use the Marauder’s Map to find them. He literally has a map of every part of the school. He should use it. Similarly, Hagrid can’t figure out what Blast-Ended Skrewt’s eat, and I have a really hard time believing no one knows their diet. It has to be in book somewhere. If no one knew what to feed them, they’d be extinct. Then at one point Ron comes into Gryffindor Tower, and then someone tries to get in, and the Fat Lady is asleep. Did she really fall asleep in the two minutes or whatever miniscule amount of time it took for Ron to enter and the next person to arrive?
Bonus questions: Why do the Dursleys bother sending Harry Christmas presents? How does a 20-ft. giant mate with a human?
One of my biggest issues with this book is the basis of the plot. I really don’t understand how Harry can be forced into participating in the Triwizard Tournament. It doesn’t make any sense to me. There are so many questions I have about how this story works, and it makes it hard for me to engage with and enjoy this book.
I know I say I didn’t notice the plot holes as a kid, but I did notice the issue of Harry not being able to get out of the Triwizard Tournament despite being underage. I didn’t particularly enjoy this book as a kid, and I don’t like it much as an adult either. It has its good parts, but overall, I just have a tough time with this story.
What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with this story? Did you notice the plot holes? Did I miss any?