Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3 of 7)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  - J.K. Rowling

This is the third book and so far I think the stories are getting better and better, although I did feel like there were some minor plot holes that cropped up near the end of this one. Or, at least, plot stretches if not actual holes.  I was about 80% through the book when bedtime rolled around last night, and I hated putting the book down.  I didn’t have any choice though, because I had a 3.5 hour road trip early this morning and I didn’t want to drive tired.  I looked forward to finally getting back to the book and finishing it up all day. 


I’ve continued to enjoy the main characters in the books, and I especially liked some of the new characters we met in this book. I hope we see more of them in future books.  One thing I especially enjoy is that there’s always, so far at least, some sort of mystery to figure out.  There are people who aren’t who they seem, unidentified people causing problems or with evil intent, etc.  While I’m reading, I’m constantly making predictions and/or evaluating previously-made predictions as new information comes in.  Sometimes the climactic reveal does feel a little Scooby-Doo-ish, in that you have people standing around talking about what happened and tying together all the plot threads into a nice, neat bow.  But I do enjoy the way everything gets tied up pretty neatly.  I’ve been reading a lot of open-ended books lately, so this makes for a nice change of pace.


The rest of my comments are either major or minor spoilers, so I’m enclosing them in spoiler tags.


For once I managed to predict something correctly! I figured out that the mouse was somebody evil at the 50% mark and I was convinced that Crookshanks had it in for Scabbers for good reason.  I wasn’t quite sure who Scabbers was because I was getting the feeling by that point that Black wasn’t as evil as everybody was making him out to be, but whoever he was I was sure he was up to no good.


I really liked Lupin almost from the beginning. I knew there was something up with him, but I was certain he wasn’t a bad guy.  I completely failed to guess the werewolf thing, though, even though it seemed obvious in retrospect.  I was disappointed that he had to leave the school and I hope his promise to Harry that they would meet again proves to be true.  I can’t wait to see who shows up as the teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts in the next book…


Did I imagine it, or did we have Tribbles in this book? In chapter 4 where it’s describing the Magical Menagerie shop on Diagon Alley, ”… a basket of funny custard-colored furballs that were humming loudly…”  Ok, maybe the humming description makes that idea too much of a stretch, but that was the first thing I thought of when I read that passage.


These are some of the aforementioned things that I thought were plot holes or at least plot stretches:


* When Hermione and Harry use the hourglass necklace to go back in time three hours, it also puts them in a different place – the entrance hall. First of all, why would it put them in a different place?  Second of all, if we say that the magical device was intentionally created to put you in a different place when you use it, then there are more problems with that idea.  Either a) the device always puts you at the entrance hall, but that would be a pretty stupid place to put people because the biggest rule is not to let anybody see you and an entrance hall is hardly a safe place in that regard or b) the device always puts you at a random place, presumably one without people in it, but then that would assume the person who created it was able to design it to behave in a pretty specific manner in which case why add randomness when I would think the standard use case would be to go to a spot you know will be empty at the appropriate time in the past and use it, and then show back up in that same spot which presumably is also convenient to whatever you need to do.  I suppose another possibility is c) it takes you to the same spot if nobody is there, otherwise it moves you to a nearby empty spot.  But that seems like an awful big stretch.  I think the real answer is d) I put waaaay more thought into this than could possibly be justified.


* Harry seems to suddenly become an expert at controlling hippogriffs after only riding it twice. The first time was spent holding on for dear life for a short flight during which he didn’t try to control it at all.  Then the second time, when he went to rescue Black, he’s somehow maneuvering it to a specific window and making it fly in place while they rescue Black.  That seemed like a bit of a stretch especially since it’s unlikely  he’s ever ridden a horse in his sheltered life with the Dursleys.


* Really, none of the teachers figured out that Hermione was attending their classes simultaneously? We already know the students were starting to question it and talking about it.  It seems odd that nobody had figured it out already by that point, but I might be willing to buy that everybody was just too busy dealing with their own stuff to spend much time thinking about how Hermione was attending all her classes.  But Hermione was strictly told in the beginning that nobody should know she was using it, and that just seems like an unrealistic expectation.  People surely would have figured it out eventually.  It seems like there would still have been enough chatter about it that Snape would have gotten wind of it and realized how Hermione and Harry rescued Black.  Of the three plot holes/stretches, this is the one I could most easily overlook I think.


Still, despite those nitpicks, I really enjoyed this story and I’m looking forward to starting the next book!

(show spoiler)