Caidyn’s rating: 5/5
Chantel’s rating: 3.5/5
Beware of spoilers! This is a review where we’re holding nothing back, for this book and the series as a whole.
I think it’s safe to say that I was disappointed in Prisoner of Azkaban. I’ve long said that it’s my favorite Harry Potter book, but it turns out that it’s my favorite movie. Like, for me the movie is in my top ten of all time, but the book was very meh for me. I found this jarring because I was expecting it to be fantastic, but I found that the book often dragged. The movie cut out a lot of the unnecessary plotting, thank goodness, and focused on what was really important in the book which was Harry’s parents history.
There was no Voldemort in Prisoner of Azkaban, but his presence lingered over the book. It’s the only book where he isn’t present, but it is impossible for him to not be mentioned. I think the foreshadowing of Peter Pettigrew aka Scabbers was brilliant, but the actual foreshadowing (the Sneakoscope) was never mentioned by the characters. My guess is it was just for the audience to know that something wasn’t right.
This book was full of mysteries and misdirect and I think that is the biggest strength of this book. How did Sirius escape from Azkaban? Why is he after Harry? (He’s not.) How did he get into Hogwarts? There are many more questions and I thought the mystery of the book was what kept it compelling. Not to mention the ever tumultuous relationship of Ron and Hermione which escalates when she gets a cat, Hagrid’s obsession with odd creatures, the time travel, and so on.
Speaking of the time travel, I do believe the time turner is controversial in the HP community. I am aware of his appearance and use in C*rsed C*ild (gag) but I’m ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist. Kay? Kay. In Prisoner of Azkaban, I think it’s brilliantly used and I love that it’s never used again. Only Hermione would use time travel to get to all her classes, it’s so in character. Yes it’s a convenient plot device, but so was the Basilisk fang, and Fawkes, and the invisibility cloak, and I could go on but I think you get the point. I love the chapter where they go back in time, though of course I picture the movie when I think of it, but it was just so brilliant to me that time travel existed in Harry Potter and was never brought back again. Ever.
While I enjoyed the book, I think this is one of those instances where the movie is better than the book for me. I don’t really care if you disagree but I stand by it and Hermione’s pink hoodie forever.
You definitely have a lot more to say about this than I do. Probably because I’ve written about it already in past reviews I’ve written of this book since I try to read it for a different reason each time. Last time I basically focused on Dumbledore’s role throughout the whole series. But, another story for another time.
This book definitely is different, as was already pointed out. It’s like Chamber of Secrets where you can only appreciate it to its fullest extent (i.e. Trelawney’s prediction at the end) when you see the full realization of it in Goblet of Fire. Yet, it’s also far more adult than the other books since you finally see how the murder of his parents affects Harry to that day. It also, to me, is a great show of the emergence of Harry’s characterization with his anger issues, likely influenced by his upbringing and realizing all that is on his shoulders.
I definitely really enjoy this book. The five stars just shows my enjoyment, not necessarily that it’s without faults. I agree that the Time Turner was a bit convenient, but not exactly. I think it’s weird that they gave one to a thirteen-year-old kid, but it also was needed otherwise the story wouldn’t have worked out. What would they have done? Stolen it from a professor? That sounds like an even more batshit plot.
Now, based on this book and where we are with knowing the storyline of characters, how do we feel about Snape, Lupin, and Sirius? I know we’ve talked about it before, Chantel. But I’d like to sit down and discuss them a bit more since they are all quite controversial by the end of their stories.
I feel like this might get controversial, but bare with us. Personally, I don’t like Snape and don’t believe that pretending his faults don’t exist isn’t how he should’ve gotten redemption. Did he even deserve it? I don’t know yet. He is definitely a foul git, as Ron would say, but irredeemable? I don’t know. It’s not as cut and dry for me as some other people. I’ve felt strongly during this reread that he isn’t as bad as the Dursley’s, but we’ve debated that already in our review of Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. However, opinions can change or get stronger. Only time will tell right now.
Now Lupin. I’ve never felt a strong connection to him before, but I think during Prisoner of Azkaban I like him a lot more. I think he is by far the best character of the three mentioned and the most sympathetic in my opinion. This is further down the line, but I’m unsure about his relationship with Tonks. It seems forced and awkward, but that’s how I feel now. I am saddened that he ended up dead and left his son behind, and I don’t know how I feel about that decision. My first instinct is to be upset but more so at JKR because she didn’t have to kill him.
I don’t have strong opinions on Sirius, honestly except that it’s hard to spell his name right. I wasn’t upset when he died because I didn’t feel like we got to know him. I was more sad for Harry who had clung so hard to this one thread left from his parents and then he was gone. That was more upsetting to me than Sirius actually dying. I don’t have much more to say about him but I’m sure we’ll talk more about him because I think Caidyn’s opinion is far stronger.
We’ll get more into his “redemption” arch when we get to the seventh book, as you all know. It’ll be fun to really discuss a few chapters from that book since it’s one of my favorites. But, I think that this book paints Snape in an even worse light than before because of his hatred of Lupin. You see it and you see that he really hates Lupin, about as much as he hates Harry. And Lupin is nothing but kind to him. Of course, we know that it’s because Lupin could have killed him and willingly went along with his friends bullying him, but he was still nothing but nice to Snape.
See, I personally like Lupin. He’s one of my favorites. I’m trying not to get into the bigger plot points of later books, though. That’s why I put the caveat of doing it only up to what we know at this point in this book. But I do love Lupin in this book. He comes across as a great father figure to Harry, one that he literally could have had if life had been different. He was strict when needed, but he was also extremely understanding. It’s interesting to see how things change as the books go on.
Sirius is pretty nonexistent in this book, that’s true. And in this book, you only see him as a bad and dangerous light that’s twisted at the end because of all the misdirections. You can see that all the adults in the book made all these assumptions about Sirius and the Potters. They assumed that it was Sirius who was the secret keeper for the family when he literally could have chosen any three of his friends or even some of Lily’s friends. But, personally, I’m not a fan of Sirius. Which we’ll talk about in Order of the Phoenix.
Now, I don’t think that any discussion of this book is complete without discussing JKR and Wolfstar (aka, for those not in the know *cough*Chantel*cough* is Sirius/Remus). Basically, what could have been. Because they gay. Together.
If they didn’t have a history, one could say that Snape hated him because he was a werewolf. Which in the wizarding world is basically treated as being a second-class citizen, something I found interesting, but I think JKR has kind of dug herself a hole with that one and should’ve just left it up to interpretation. But yes, I’m sure we will have a lot more to say about Snape in the future, but neither of us are fans. Except Alan Rickman was brilliant as him in the movies.
Hey, you said spoilers so I’m spoiling! But you are right about Lupin being the father figure that Sirius should’ve been. It would’ve been interesting to see that relationship continue throughout the books because I don’t know how much it comes into play later, but we’ll find out.
And frankly, the secret keeper should’ve been Sirius or Lupin. However, that’s with the hindsight that Pettigrew is a cowardly little shit. James and Lily trusted them all with their lives and they picked the one person who ended up betraying him. I think the issue I have with Sirius is we get so little of him when he seems to be so important. I think about what could’ve been, not really what he ended up being.
Ohh boy, JKR has some serious issues with gay characters despite supposedly being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Don’t even get me started on the new Fantastic Beasts movie. I think she has done a lot of bad for fans by “confirming” things after the series has been finished. Like saying that Wolfstar isn’t a thing or that Dumbledore is gay (then refusing to acknowledge it when it’s relevant), or allowing C*rsed C*ild to happen. My point is, she doesn’t let her fans have their ships or their theories without butting in and saying the fans are wrong and I think that’s a huge disservice to the fans who have spent years reading her books.
I don’t think that he hated Lupin because he was a werewolf. Voldemort used werewolves to do his dirty work in the First Wizarding War, so I don’t think he would have had that huge prejudice. I think he hated Lupin because of Sirius and James. It’s not like Lupin knew about what his friends had done, after all. But he was roped into it. Plus he never stopped Sirius and James from picking on Snape because he was afraid that he’d lose his friends.
Well, I know, I know. But yeah. In this book, Lupin’s great and dandy with a significant amount of depth for the role that he had. There’s so much that JKR writes that’s so under the surface with him. About how each time he smiles, it’s a huge deal. Plus you have the metaphor with lycanthropy and the HIV/AIDS epidemic that JKR did.
Yeah, Peter was the last choice for a reason. Pick the person they least would expect. But they should have expected any of the three to do it. I still think it’s crazy that Dumbledore wasn’t chosen, but as we know from the later books he doesn’t do good with a lot of power. Sirius is a pretty minor and background character until the fifth book. I mean, I’m halfway through the fourth book right now and he’s pretty minor still, but he’s filled in the father role that Lupin and Hagrid have had in the past.
BAHAHAHAHAHA. “Ally.” Don’t make me laugh. She’s done jack for the LGBT+ community. Sorry, but she just writes in things after the fact. I will never be convinced that Sirius and Lupin had nothing besides friendship. Perhaps it’s subtext (I’d even say queerbaiting but that idea was created WAY after this book was made) but it’s been there from day one when people read it. I’ve known about Wolfstar for ages. And she inserts herself into the fandom. Much like BBC’s Sherlock, the fandom took on its own life and now she’s trying to tell us what not to think.
But that’s only part of the reason we have issues with JKR. For me, that’s probably the biggest thing, but it’s exhausting to watch people continue to put her on a pedestal when she has fucked up so many times. However, I might be getting ahead of myself.
You’re kind of getting ahead of yourself, but not too much. I think that it’s fine because the shit starts here with Wolfstar and years later JKR coming out and saying that Lupin’s only love was Tonks when, clearly, there’s something between Sirius and Lupin. It read as very queer between them. But, I think we’ll have more to talk about with our issues with her in Deathly Hallows and C*rsed C*ild.
What do you all think about Snape, Lupin, and Sirius? Do you agree with us or not? And, how do you feel about what JKR has been doing in the fandom?