Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling was the first book in the series that I liked when I read through the books for the first time. You know, back when there were only four published books.
I know that the reason this is the novel that took off for me is that I could see, or at least hope, that the books were becoming more sophisticated. More characters are introduced, ones that will become pivotal in upcoming volumes.
I enjoyed this book more than any of the others the first time I read it (until I read the fourth one, that is). So what did I think this time? Well, I really wish someone would take Rowling’s computer and remove its ability to make ellipses . . . and dashes—and let’s set it up to self-edit by replacing half the exclamation marks with periods. If I were her editor, I would have insisted that she revise these so that they wouldn’t be so ubiquitous. I would accuse any other author of laziness if they were to be so frivolous with their punctuation. (Not to mention the abundance of adverbials.)
And yet, having read the entire series I know that the story is worth suffering through her punctuation. The Whomping Willow introduced in book two has a greater significance in this book and the Marauder’s Map, along with other things, comes into the story. It will be used again. Most significant is Professor McGonagall’s status as an animagus. What seemed a trite character affection, this ability takes on greater relevance as well.
As I’ve said before, it is Rowling’s ability to layer smaller plot points into greater ones as the novels progress that I can’t help but admire. She stays solidly within the oeuvre while offering surprises. Too often a typically formulaic genre rarely transcends itself but each book moves slightly above and beyond the previous one.
Needless to say, I’m eager to reread the fourth book because that is the one that sealed the entire series for me.
Sooooo . . . the rankings at this point are:
That’s right. I’ve flipped and I prefer the first book to the third. There’s still room for another upset in the rankings and I’m honestly trying to read each book with an openness as I measure it first on its own merit before comparing it with the others and then weighing it as part of the series over all. I must really like this series to reread it from beginning to end just because I may finally get to see the last two movies on dvd.