This is one of my favorite books of the series. The things that happen make sense for the most part, they reveal more of the history of Harry’s circumstances, and they set the stage for things to get much, much worse. I love the mystery of Sirius Black and how Remus Lupin helps him. I love the idea of the Marauder’s Map and the magic of Hogsmeade (I gotta get in Honeyduke’s). I love that Hagrid gets to be a teacher in a subject that is 100% in his lane and he picks a book that chomps. This book lets each character shine and really cements who they are and what their purposes are.
There are also less places for me to quibble about in this book. There’s no Harry facing off with Professor Quirrel/Voldemort after facing a magical obstacle course or Harry fighting a basilisk after finding the entrance to a chamber that adults should have found years ago. Prisoner of Azkaban is just teenagers doing teenager things and facing above average danger along the way. It’s a really great story.
It’s also the first time Harry begins to form a found family. There is someone out there that knew his parents and is his godfather and wants to support him, plus one of his teachers ends up being one of his dad’s best friends too. He already has his friends but this is different, these are adults who care about him because they want to, not because they are a teacher or otherwise obligated.
This is also a book where Hermione really shines. Punching Draco, using the time turner, learning so many subjects – this is a book about how essential Hermione is to Harry’s story. Dumbledore absolutely knows how important she is, hence the permission to use the time turner to take more classes to learn more than she normally would. She also comes out of her shell a bit in terms of following the rules. Where before she was a stickler, she’s starting to see that the world isn’t black and white, that sometimes to do what’s right you have to live in the grey.
Ron continues to be the most useless, terrible character in this entire series. He has one bright moment in the Philosopher’s Stone where he’s good at chess (?) but then we forget about that and he just continues to be poor and dumb with very few redeeming qualities. He’s the every man that’s there to ground Harry maybe? Pressure him into just being a normal kid that doesn’t like homework and messes around instead of growing into his birthright as the chosen one and being awesome at everything? I’m not sure, but I’ve never liked Ron and this book did not help his case.
I love this book. I love that rereading it only confirmed that it was one of my favorites. Now onto the largest book in the series and we’ll see if it holds up as one of my favorites as well.