Sunday, November 7, 2010

Goblet of Fire Chapters 3-6

The Long Story

Sorry it's been so long since the last post. I have been doing my reading though. However, I haven't found much to comment on. During these 4 chapters, we get a lot of the author setting up the story. Since this book is such a long one, it would make sense that it takes longer to set up the story. In these chapters, Harry gets the invitation, goes to the Burrow, and takes a portkey to the Quidditch world cup. That's pretty well it.


Ok, I'm having a major ADD moment. As I'm sitting here thinking about what to say about this book, all that's going through my head is the awesome new clip from Deathly Hallows that I just saw:

I gotta say, I'm really really excited to see this movie. To answer your question, of course I'm going opening weekend. From what I've seen in interviews and such, this movie looks to be much different from the others. Nearly everything in part I takes place outside Hogwarts. I'm really glad they broke it into two parts. They'll be able to give the time and attention the finale deserves.


Back to the book. One thing I've been thinking about when I read this book is one memorable thing that happens at the end. I would talk about that when we get there, but by that time, I will probably forget what I was going to say about it, so I'm going to talk about it now. It's my blog... I can do what I want :) Recall that I talked about how the first death we experience in the series is that of Buckbeak. Well, we come to find out that Buckbeak didn't really die. At the end of Goblet of Fire, we get our first real death. This is the death that I think had the biggest shock factor up to this point. I really couldn't believe what I was reading. (Sorry to those who haven't read this book if I've spoiled anything.) Up to this point, it was really good story aimed at a young audience. Suddenly, the book is twice as thick and someone actually dies! My mind was blown. PEOPLE DON'T DIE IN KIDS BOOKS! This is why Old Yeller was so crappy. What is interesting about my reaction to this book is that it follows a lot of what Harry goes through. Harry's expectations about his world are turned upside down in this book. He's thrust into situations he's not ready for. It's like he knows that at some point he'd have to face difficult times, but he didn't expect to have to face them so soon. I felt the same way. I knew at some point, someone in the series was going to die, I just didn't think it would happen this soon and in this way.

Anyway, I'll try not to spoil any more of the book. Happy reading!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Goblet of Fire - Movie review

So, I was playing flag football yesterday and for those of you who know me, know I'm not the most intimidating of specimens being only 5'7" and weighing all of a buck-fifty. Imagine Colin Creevy trying to play Quidditch on the Gryffindor team. That would have been me. Anyway, after a missed catch, a teammate of mine told me to use the "Accio Football" spell. So of course, I tried. I left the field that day with the following conclusion... the spell's busted. That's my excuse anyway.

Alright, enough of my visions of grandeur and on to the movie review!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So Gryffindorks, as promised, I'm giving you my review of the Goblet of Fire movie. I haven't given my reviews of many of the other films and that's mostly because I've felt pretty strong about this one in particular as you'll see.

The best thing I can say about this movie, is that this premiere was the most fun I've attended. At risk of totally pegging the "Geek-o-meter," I'll tell you that I actually dressed up for this premiere. A bunch of friends and myself went to the midnight showing at a huge theater complex in Utah which had, correct me if I'm wrong, over 20 theatres with most of them showing Harry Potter. The complex was packed with Potter-ites. I, of course, was dressed as Harry and with us, we had a Snape, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, Rita Skeeter, Ginny, and Trelawny. One of the best movie experiences of my life. I could totally "geek out" and get away with it because most of the people there were college students like myself.

The only disappointing thing was the movie itself. The following are my gripes about the movie:

1.) Dumbledore was just not right. In the book, Dumbledore is stressed and concerned, but in a quiet way. The strain didn't show to the students. In the movie, he was on edge the entire movie. No where in the books do you ever see Dumbledore lose his cool. I felt that by the 6th movie, Michael Gambon finally got Dumbledore right...mostly. I didn't feel that throughout the movie that Dumbledore was in control.

2.) Awful casting for Barty Crouch Jr. The character didn't fit the description of the Barty Crouch Jr. in the books at all. He wasn't a very believable villain. In the book, he creeped me out. His devotion to Voldemort was bordering on religous reverence, but in a really really creepy way. His character in the movie was pretty laughable.

3.) The maze. I understand having to cut out large portions of the book to fit it into one movie, but why change the maze completely? There was really no explanation in the movie for why the maze behaved the way it did. It was weird and I felt it could have been more true to the book without sacrificing time.

4.) The writing for Hermione was not true to her character. What I mean by that is that there was a disproportionate amount of time whining, moping, and fretting. Yes, there were those moments in the book, but there were times when she was quite cheerful too. We didn't get any of that in the movie.

5.) Not enough explanation about the Triwizard Tournament. I would have been very confused about the whole concept of the tournament had I not read the books. I felt kind of like they were making it up as they went. It didn't fit into the large overall plot of the series without any context.

6.) Not enough Snape. Underutilized talent. Enough said.

Now for some highlights:

1.) Brendan Gleeson was a fantastic Mad-eye Moody. He captured the essence of the character from the book very well, as well as providing a lot of comedy relief without being over the top. Mad-eye isn't meant to be a comical character in the books, but the way Gleeson pulled it off in the movie really worked.

2.) Voldemort's return scene at the end of the book was fitting in its creepyness. I'm sure there was a lot of pressure on Ralphe Fiennes to portray one of the most popular literary villains of all time acurately. I say that he did a pretty good job on his debut. My only complaint about that scene is that it could have been longer, but I can see why it wasn't. Most of what happened in the book is what is going on inside Harry's head. It's hard to see what he's thinking in a movie.

3.) One scene in particular that was done very well was the one when Harry returns to the stadium after having confronted Voldemort. The discord between the cheery band playing with the cheering of the crowd, and the absolute horror of what has just happened was quite powerful. It was a really uncomfortable moment, like a clown showing up to a funeral instead of a birthday party, but it was uncomfortable in a good way that added to the drama.

Out of all of the movies that have been produced thus far, I liked this one the least. With that said, I still love the movies. I imagine to myself that at some point in my lifetime, they'll redo the movies. I look forward to sitting in my handicapped accessable spot in the theatre with my fake wand in hand and a eye-liner drawn scar on my forehead.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Goblet of Fire Chapters 1 -2

Merlin's Beard! This book is long!

Welcome to the beginning of another book, Gryffindorks. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the 4th book in the series and really serves as the pivotal book in the series. From this book on, the mood changes from rather light-hearted to very serious. The big, overall plot really takes a turn at the end of this book as we'll see. This book is the 2nd largest in the series at a staggering 734 pages! Critics said that this would deter young readers from plowing through this one, but this juggernaut turned out to be the best-selling book in the series up until the 5th was published.

To recap, here's how I've ranked the books in terms of the books I liked best:

Sorcerer's Stone: 6th out of 7
Chamber of Secrets: 7th out of 7
Prisoner of Azkaban: 4th out of 7
Goblet of Fire: 2nd out of 7

I gave the 2nd place ribbon to Goblet of Fire for several reasons:

1.) It's one of the longest. More story = more awesomeness!
2.) Plot twists. This book is full of 'em.
3.) Shock factor. There are very few moments in the series that have absolutely floored me, but this story has a couple of 'em, including the death that shocked me most. There was a different death that made me the most sad, but that's another book. (No, it's not the big one in the 6th book, if that's what you're thinking.)
4.) Harry's world gets expanded. In the first few books, there is relatively little of significance that happens outside Hogwarts. This book really expands the scope of the wizarding world, with the addition of new magic, new ideas, and new characters.

With that said, I did not much like the 4th movie. This was in part due to the fact that the book was so awesome, and in part due to the book's length. The movie felt rushed. I'll offer my critique and critisisms of the movie in a later post. For now, it's off to the first two chapters.

Can I Give You a Hand?

The beginning of Goblet of Fire places us in Tom Riddle's home where we find Wormtail nursing a weak Voldemort. Wormtail, nervous, wimpering, and nearly wetting himself, begins to complain to Voldemort that the task of killing Harry Potter might prove too difficult. Voldemort replies that many of his servants would "give their right hand" to be put in the place of Wormtail. Though this hyperbole is often used, and in this case could easily be overlooked, it proves to be more than an exaggeration. Wormtail will indeed literally give his right hand.

The Village of Little What?

Even though the story of Harry Potter is told in third person, it is mostly told from Harry's perspective. It's like a reality show where the camera follows only Harry. There are a couple of chapters that take place outside Harry's presence and this is one of them. It's a great way for the reader to see what's going on outside Harry's life and see what potential things could lie in wait for our little hero.

Migraine Scar!

Harry wakes up with is scar hurting again and our little hero freaks out that Voldemort is skulking about Little Whinging. It's interesting that what Harry assumes is a dream was actually reality. Harry suspects this, but is afraid to admit it to others and to himself. This link between Harry's mind and Voldemort's becomes an extremely importand plot element of the next book.

The Boy Who Lived

In the first several books, as a reader, I've been satisfied in asking myself the same question that has been asked of all the characters in the books, "How did the boy survive?" To answer many of the secrets that lie ahead, the more important question should be, "Why did Voldemort not die?"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quiz Answers

Here are the answers to the quiz:

1.) Duh, he was a death eater. Too easy

2.) Macnair's first name is Walden. Who names their kid Walden? Must be a British thing.

3.) Flitwick's office. This is not, however, how it occurs in the movie. Harry and Hermione land on the battlement of one of the towers and Hermione uses the "Bombarda" spell (also not in the books) to blast the door open.

4.) I give full credit to answer D, but will accept partial credit for answer B as well.

P.S. Question #4 was just a joke. Don't take it too "Sirius"-ly. Bah ha ha. Bad pun intended.

I need to make harder quiz questions. Maybe you all just cheat. Hmmm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 21 - 22

Wouldn't They have Known?

So we finally find out how Hermione has been getting to all her classes. She can time travel! To be honest, I hate time travel plot lines. They're rarely done well, they're a cop-out of resolving the plot any other way, and they hurt my simple brain if they're too complicated. That said, I really liked this part of the story. It doesn't get too far-fetched or overly-complicated.

The great mystery that stumps Snape and Fudge is how Black managed to escape Hogwarts again. Earlier in the book, McGonagall mentions that she had to get all sorts of permission from the ministry for Hermione to have a time-turner. If the ministry knew she had it, why wasn't Fudge alerted that she had it? Someone dropped the ball.

"Read My Lips. No New Taxes."

Fudge is such a polititian. As soon as word reaches him that Black escaped again, his immediate worry is that the Daily Prophet will get word and that it will make him look bad. His first measure of damage control isn't dispatching Dementors and Aurors to go after Black, it's trying to save face. Lame. I like that this fictional character is a reflection of characters we actually see in real life.

Let's Have a Chat

I love the little chats that Dumbledore and Harry have at the end of each book. Here, Dumbledore speaks a bit prophetically. Dumbledore says that Harry will be glad he saved Pettigrew's life, and that he doubts that Voldemort will want a servant in the debt of Harry Potter. This will prove to be true in the 7th book. Dumbledore puts so much stock in love. He knows that it is one of the most ancient and powerful parts of magic. Love, trust, loyalty, and sacrifice are all things Dumbledore values most highly. Strangely, it wasn't always that way in Dumbledore's life. I think it was because of the tragic incidents in Dumbledore's life that he began to value those traits. I believe it was penance for the sins of his early life. As we'll see in the 6th and 7th books that the memories of his past misdeeds haunted him the rest of his life.

Death.... Again

Here again, we have more discussion of death as Dumbledore speaks to Harry of his father. The Harry Potter books are not exactly religious in nature, yet it is clear that Rowling created characters that believe in life after death. It is Voldemort's disbelief in life after death that makes him paranoid about death and obsessed with immortality. Dumbledore says that even though James Potter is dead, that he lives on through Harry. This idea transcends many religions... that those who have passed on never truely leave us. Even if Dumbledore doesn't believe this himself, it serves to give Harry hope. With so much tragedy in his life, he needs something like that to hold on to.

Quiz Time!!!!!!!!!!!

It's everyone's favorite time again... Quiz time! We'll start easy.

1.) What is MacNair's former occupation?

A.) Care of Magical Creatures professor?

B.) Head of Magical law enforcement?

C.) Head of the Disposal of Dangerous Magical Creatures Committee?

D.) Death Eater?

2.) What is MacNair's first name?

A.) Warwick

B.) Warren

C.) Walden

D.) Waldo

3.) Where was Sirius Black being held captive inside Hogwarts?

A.) Professor Flitwick's office

B.) Astronomy Tower

C.) North Tower

D.) Professor Trelawny's office

What is the appropriate response to this statement? "Man, I have to go to the bathroom!"

A.) Expecto Patronum!

B.) Mischief Managed.

C.) "Can't you hold it?"

D.) "You know the law Miss Granger, you must not be seen."

I'll give out the answers in a couple of days. ("Three turns should do it. Good luck.")

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 18-20

It All Comes Together

These chapters are difficult to analyze because it's the climax of the story and the majority of the time is spent either with action or explaining the previous 17 chapters. Since she already does that, that doesn't leave much for me to do. I'll try pointing out little things I saw in these chapters.

So, Sirius is innocent, huh? When I first read the books, I didn't see that one coming. Rowling does a great job creating a wonderful plot twist. It seems that plot twists, whether in books, TV shows, or movies tend to come out of no where without much "meat" to back them up. Confused? I'll explain what I mean. An effective plot twist isn't just throwing in a surprise plot element from left field. It must have supporting evidence. Anyone could have written that Sirius turned out to be a good guy, but in this case, there is plenty of evidence throughout the book to back it up. For example, people in Azkaban heard Sirius muttering, "He's at Hogwarts." Everyone interpreted that to mean that he was talking about Harry, but it's totally plausible that he was talking about Pettigrew. It all makes sense.

I Would Like to Speak with Harry and Hermione Alone

One subtle, but important character trait of Dumbledore is that he always observes the "niceties." He's always patient and polite. One subtle example of this is in the way he refers to Harry and Hermione. Snape always refers to Harry as Potter. Hermione, to most professors is Miss Granger. Dumbledore does the courtesy of referring to them by their first names. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe there is another faculty member except perhaps Lupin who refers to Harry and Hermione by their first names. To me, this symbolizes so much about Dumbledore. By calling them by their first names, he's bringing himself down to their level. Instead of speaking down to school children, Dumbledore treats them with the respect that he would expect the students to treat others with. In return, he expects the same respect be given to teachers, i.e. Harry referring to Snape as Professor Snape. This applies to all beings as well. Dumbledore would extend the same courtesy to the minister of magic as he would a house elf. It's these small details that combine to form the greater picture of who Dumbledore is.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 16-17

Oh Man, I Hate it When My Tortoise Still has a Spout for a Tail!

Reading about Harry and his exams makes me get test anxiety all over again. I love how Rowling uses real human emotions to make something imaginary like magic education seem believable. Anyone can relate to having pre-test anxiety or seeming overwhelmed by course workload. The details about magic that Rowling includes seem like they came from some encyclopedia. The subjects themselves seem like logical things one would need to learn to become a witch or wizard. I just think it's fantastic.

On a personal note, I just got done taking a 6 hour National Board Dental Examination on Thursday and that was brutal. Even with that, I've got nothing on what our trio had to do. They had to stay up until midnight to take their Astronomy exam on Tuesday night and then take History of Magic the next morning.


J.K. Rowling has come right out and said that death is a big theme that she deals with in the books. Death gets addressed in many different ways: ghosts, memories, where we go when we die, dealing with loss, ways to conquer death, and the worth of the soul. There are many deaths in the series and I really respect Rowling for not shying away from death, but embracing that it happens and that the good guys sometimes don't escape it. I also appreciate the mature approach she uses to deal with death, despite her young audience. In my opinion, they way Rowling deals with real human emotions is one of her greatest strengths as a writer, especially given that this is a fantasy novel.

Up to this point in the series, Harry has not encountered someone he knows dying while he's been at Hogwarts. Even though Harry's parents obviously snuffed it, we weren't "there" to experience it. Buckbeak's execution is really our trio's first exposure to death. Rowling spends a lot of time building up to this event and I think this is to set the stage for deaths that will occur later in the series. This is by no means the most significant death of the series, nor is it the one that impacted me the most (I'll let you know when we get to the death that impacted me the most.)

Sirius Black

So we finally get to our "showdown" with Sirius Black. When I first read this book, I was saying to myself, "The climax of this book isn't like the first two books at all." There's no Voldemort, there's no Horcrux-destroying fang! It's wonderful to see the series keep the reader on their toes.

When Harry has his want pointed at Sirius, Crookshanks interferes by sitting on Black's chest. Again, this is a point when Hermione should have done her research on Kneazles. She should have known that they are excellent judges of character. On a seperate note, doesn't it seem odd that Harry is about to kill Sirius, yet he doesn't even know the killing curse yet? We don't learn that one until the next book. I'm not sure what Harry was planning on doing to Black, but it couldn't have been that bad. Harry thinks he's so bad.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 14-15

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape

Once again, we find our little hero in a spot of trouble with our favorite potions master. This time, he's accused of being in Hogsmeade without permission. Our newly-christened teen needs to learn how to lie better. Having a staring contest with Severus Snape is not the best way to convince him of your innocence, Mr. Potter. Harry thinks that by looking Snape in the eyes, he will better be able to portray honesty. Wrong-o. We'll learn in the 5th book that this is a tactically inferior move.

In this particular instance, I actually agree with Snape. With Black on the loose, Harry shouldn't have been skulking around Hogsmeade unprotected. Then again, how exciting would the book be if Harry spent all his free time in his room brooding about how unfair life is. Oh, wait, that's the 5th book.

Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs

When Snape summons Lupin to his dungeons to probe about the map, there's a lot of between-the-lines dialogue that is both said and unsaid.

1. Snape suggests that Harry got the map "directly from the manufacturers." - this suggests that either Harry or Lupin know who the "manufacturers" are.

2. Lupin asks Harry if he knows the "manufacturers." - Here, Lupin knows that Harry doesn't know who they are, but is betting on Harry's ignorance to get him out trouble.

3. The map insults Snape when he tries to get it to reveal its secrets. - This suggests that those who made the map know Snape.

4. We already knew that Lupin knew James and that Snape knew James. It only makes logical sense that Snape knew Lupin before Lupin became a teacher. I don't think Harry, at this point, puts these puzzle pieces together.

5. Because Snape and Lupin knew each other and that the makers of the map knew Snape, it would make sense that Lupin knows what the map is. I think Snape knows that Lupin knows what it is, and I'm pretty sure Lupin knew that Snape knew. Neither of them wanted to show their "cards" in front of Harry. The fact that Harry gets away with this and that Lupin pulls one over on Snape just increases Snapes hatred of both of them.

Watch Out ESPN

Rowling is actually a pretty good sports commentator. She not only has to balance the action, but has to incorporate Lee's commentating as well as what's going on inside Harry's head. With all that going on, I could see the action easily getting bogged down with a lot of words, but Rowling does a great job of keeping the action going. With the number of Quidditch matches that happen during the series, it becomes a difficult to make the matches interesting and unique. Rowling does a great job of avoiding the cliche and individualizing each match. I think it's great that Harry doesn't win every match. It's pretty "Rocky-esque."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 12-13

Ron Ruined It!

At one point in Chapter 12, Hermione was about to explain something about Professor Lupin, but Ron, being the thick twit that he is interrupts Hermione so that they never find out what she knew. It turns out that what she knew would have a big impact on the end of the story, but I won't give it away.

Captain Clueless

As Harry and Ron are walking back from Quidditch practice one evening, they notice Crookshanks in the distance. The author notes that Crookshanks disappeared by a certain tree. Come on super sleuths, pay attention to where the cat went! It seems like in this book, more than any other, Harry and Ron don't pay attention to things around them that could give them clues to the mystery surrounding Sirius Black. It seems that Harry really isn't focused on the man who is out to kill him. I sure would be. I would want to know as much about him as possible.

Cho Changers and Cedric Shin-Diggory

Once again, we see the pattern Rowling uses of introducing characters before they become relevant to the overall plot. Cho gets introduced to the series in this chapter, but really doesn't play a larger role until the next two books. It's nice to re-read the books and say, "Wow, I didn't realize this character was talked about in this book." Cho isn't the only character who will become more relevant that is introduced early. Cedric Diggory is also revealed in this book as the Hufflepuff Quidditch captain.

Worthy of note here is the mention that the actor who portrayed Cedric in the movies is none other than the undead celebate vampire, Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen). Thanks to Sam O. and Roger P, we've come up with some great alternate names for Cedric: Undead Cedric, Deadric Diggory, Edward Cufflepuff, Ced-rigor-mortis Diggory, Grave Diggory, "Avada Kedavra" Cullen, and Dead-ward Cullen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 10-11

For Diane O.... because you so love my blog.

Tests of Loyalty

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I have sure seen a decrease in loyalty in our society. Gone are the days of an entire city being devoted to one sports team. Seldom do you find consumers shopping at a single store out of loyalty (Ahem, Walmart.) And rarely do you see loyalty to a political figure and going even further, loyalty of that political figure to his or her office. People these days even jump ship on religions like they're fads. I can tell by the way she writes, that JK Rowling values loyalty as this is one of the major themes (and my favorite) that comes out throughout the book. Bonds of loyalty and trust and tried, tested, and sometimes even broken. In Chapter 10 of this book, Harry finds himself in the hospital wing because of a fall from his broomstick. Harry, being the moody teen he is, dwells on his overwhelming problems: his broken broomstick, quidditch, the issue with the dementors, the grim, and the fugitive, Sirius Black. We get a firsthand look inside Harry's head because he's the protagonist of the story, but what is not to be overlooked is that while Harry is lying in the hospital wing, Ron and Hermione "left Harry's bedside only at night." I don't think this is a superfluous tidbit added by Rowling; rather, I prefer to believe she did it intentionally to reenforce the theme of loyalty because their loyalty to Harry will be severely tested later in the series.

Keeping with the theme of loyalty, we see in this book that although Dumbledore is an extremely accomplished and powerful wizard, he has earned the respect of others. It has been said that the true test of character is how you treat your subordinates.... or something like that. We've already seen acts of loyalty demonstrated by Hagrid in earlier books and I'll reitterate those as more examples come later on. In this chapter, we see a demonstration of loyalty to Dumbledore by McGonagall. During her conversation with Fudge, Flitwick, and Hagrid in the Three Broomsticks, McGonagall unquestionably backs Dumbledore when Fudge mentions the dementors being angry with Dumbledore.

Christmas Bells are Ringing... blah blah blah blah blah blah.

During the Christmas feast, Professor Trelawny notices the absence of Professor Lupin. Dumbledore gives the excuse that he's ill. However, Professor Lupin has not been seen in the hospital wing... suspicious. Perhaps he knew he was going to be sick, and perhaps this is why he didn't want to start anti-dementor lessons with Harry until after break. I don't think he was really busy... hmmmm.

It's a Freaking Broomstick

It takes true talent to write about a plain object like a broomstick and make the readers yearn for one the same way they'd pine for a new sports car. As I was reading about Harry and Ron's excitement over the Firebolt, I had to stop and remind myself that it's a stupid broomstick she's describing. There is no such thing as a Firebolt, yet I found myself jealous that Harry had one and I didn't... :(

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson

Hey sports fans! During my little "Potter Hiatus," I took the chance to read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. If you don't know anything about them, I'll give a brief description. Percy is the son of Poseidon... and saves the day. The End. Told you it would be brief :)

A colleague of mine at the dental school recommended this 5-book series because he claims they're similar to Harry Potter, and he knowing what a rabid HP fan I am, suggested I give them a try. So I'm posting this as a book review for any of yous who are considering giving them a try.


As a stand-alone series, it's a pretty fun and easy read, but comparing it to Harry Potter is like comparing the contents of my daughter's diaper to the Mona Lisa. My biggest beef with the series is that it doesn't grow and mature like the Harry Potter series does. What I mean by that is the first Percy Jackson book reads very similar to the first Harry Potter book. Both main characters are just learning about the special worlds they are a part of. In the second Harry Potter book, Harry and his friends mature and the overall plot grows in depth and complexity. In the second Percy Jackson book, however, new characters are added, but we don't get a maturing of the characters even though they age along a similar timeline as the HP characters do. Both of these series are aimed at young adult readers, but the difference between the two is that the last book in the HP series is aimed at an older, more mature audience while the Percy Jackson series stays at that 11-13 year old range.

Another problem I have with the Percy Jackson series is that the characters don't react to dangerous situations like the average person would. When faced with impending doom, Percy still manages to pop off a few wisecracks or puns. Facing the same situation, Harry deals with his emotions in a much more real and understandable way. I think the way the characters are treated in the Percy Jackson series does a disservice to the readers. Yes, the pre-teens will still love the books, but in my opinion, they won't be able to relate to the characters on any kind of personal level. In contrast, in HP, a lot of people can relate to someone like Ron whose accomplishments are overshadowed by those of his older siblings. He feels that he has to take the backseat to Harry and sometimes Hermione. Some people can also relate to being brainy like Hermione, but also being aware of lacking some social grace and being the target of scrutiny. Some may even be able to relate to being thrust in the spotlight like Harry despite a multitude of insecurities.

The Percy Jackson series does have some redeeming qualities. The books are very action packed and I never felt that they dragged in any regard. The author does a good job of keeping the plot moving forward. Another good thing is that I actually learned quite a bit about Greek Mythology. The author also does a good job of not "Disney-fying" the Greek Gods. For example, he doesn't shy away from the fact that the gods had extra-marital affairs and that even the gods are flawed and don't always do "good."

Overall, the series was a quick and enjoyable read and I would recommend them for a light-hearted adventure. I would not, however, recommend starting a blog discovering the depths and complexities of Percy Jackson.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 8 - 9

Looks Like a Truck Ran into its Face

Ok, so what's the deal with Crookshanks? First of all, why's he out for scabbers. Second of all, how is that cat so smart? Third of all, why would Hermione buy such an ugly insult to nature in the first place?

First, I can't answer why he appears to be after Scabbers without giving too much away. We just have to take things at face value for now, but I will say that Ron's assumptions about the cat will prove to be well founded.

Second, I really have no idea how the cat is so smart. That's one thing about Crookshanks that has always bothered me. I get that he's a magical pet, but most pets that have abilities beyond their counterparts in the muggle world are given some kind of personality: Hedwig, Buckbeak, and even Scabbers. Referencing Newton Artemis Fido Scamander, Crookshanks is not actually a cat, but a magical creature called a "kneazle." They resemble cats, but are more intellegent, loyal, and aggressive. Mr. Scamander also points out that they are excellent at detecting unsavory or suspecious characters (an importand point to keep in mind throughout this book.) He also points out that a liscense is require for ownership of a kneazle. I'm not sure Hermione has one of thems.

Thirdly, no one can answer why Hermione would buy a trainwreck of a cat, but if you think about Hermione's personality, it kinda fits. She values intellegence and loyalty above looks and popularity. But as smart as Hermione is, I'm surprized she didn't know more about kneazles. That could have changed the whole landscape of the third book.

Turn to Page Three-Hundred Ninety-Four

So we see in Chapter 9 that Snape definetly does not like Professor Lupin. We don't yet understand why, but it becomes more clear later in this book and in Book 5.

Extra Credit:

If you want something fun to test your HP knowledge, go here:

Welcome back!

It's about time you guys came back. Sheesh. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever have readers again. I pretty much blame all you guys for my absence.

Now that you've learned your lesson, let's move on.

Have you seen this? If you haven't, shame, shame, shame on you all:

This is the newest trailer for BOTH Deathly Hallows movies. I had to watch it multiple times to take it all in. I looks to be the best thing the happen to mankind, so show it to all your friends, family, and cow-orkers.

(More on Prisoner of Azkaban to come shortly)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 5 - 7

Where have you been?

Busy, I guess. But that's no excuse! I'm recommitting myself to everything Potter. Am I done with this blog? Not by a long shot. So Gryffindorks, let's get rollin'

Chocolate? Seriously?

Can you tell a woman is writing this story? Of course, the cure to the very thing that sucks all the happiness out of you is chocolate. I think Rowling wrote this with a little tongue in cheek. Everyone knows that chocolate makes everything better... at least it does for me.
A couple of questions for you

After the dementors searched the train, why do you think Ginny was shaking so badly? The answer is never explicitly given, but given what we'll learn later about dementors, it makes sense that they would affect Ginny a little differently than the others.

Why would Rowling mention that the Hogwarts stagecoaches smell like straw? I think it is to give the reader a clue that the stagecoaches are being pulled by something. If the stagecoaches simply moved on their own, why would they smell like straw unless the smell came from the things actually pulling the stagecoaches. We'll learn more about them later.

Magical Medicine

As a student of medicine, I find it interesting that Madam Pompfrey would examine a patient in much the same way a muggle would. Although treatments may differ radically in the magical world, it seems that many basic diagnostic skills remain the same.

Oh Minerva

I have to give McGonagall some credit in this story. It seems that almost everyone treats Harry special in one way or another. McGonagall actually sees the importance of giving Harry what he really wants most -- a normal life. She doesn't give him preferential treatment or treat him any different than the other students. Although, it is obvious that through her stern fascade, she has a real soft spot for Harry.

Professor R.J. Lupin

Finally, a competant Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher. I really like this character. He's unpretentious and unassuming. Not a lot of information is given about Lupin early in the book other than that he quickly gains the favor of most students. Pay attention for clues about this character because there's a lot more about him that we are yet to learn. One major clue that is given already is that when Lupin is faced with a Boggart, it assumes the form of an orb. Why would Lupin be afraid of an orb?

Speaking of Boggarts, did you notice that among dark, quiet places they prefer to dwell, closets and beds are among them? This fits right in with kids screaming because there's a monster under their bed because obviously, the boggart would assume the shape of whatever would frighten a child most. It all makes sense!

A Quiz!!!!!!

Okay, Gryffindorks, this quiz doesn't come out of Prisoner of Azkaban, but let's see how good your Harry Potter knowledge is. I admit, even I got stumped on a couple of these. Here it is:

Without referencing the books, google, or anything else besides your own minds, name the seven Horcruxes AND who destroyed each one. (Hint: No one person destroyed more than one horcrux)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 3 - 4

She Knows, She Always Knows!

In Chapter 3, in the article in the Daily Prophet about Sirius Black, Harry reads that Fudge informed the muggle prime minister of Black's breakout from Azkaban. In the 6th book, we can actually get a first hand account of Fudge meeting with the prime minister. It amazes me how well Rowling integrates the books. In an interview with Rowling, she revealed that she wrote the chapter about Fudge's interaction with the muggle prime minister long before the 6th book was written. She had a hard time deciding where she would place it in the series. At one time, she considered placing it in Chamber of Secrets. One more example of excellent integrating that we see in these chapters is that it's mentioned that the Irish quidditch team put in an order for seven new Firebolt racing brooms and that they were favorites in the world cup that year. We find out in the 4th book, that they indeed made it to the quidditch world cup finals against Bulgaria.

The One Good Thing...

about living with the Dursleys is that Harry has remained humble and grounded. Dumbledore points this out to the Dursleys in the 6th book, but we can see evidence of that right now. One thing that is so endearing about Harry is that he constantly underestimates how special he is. It's not that he has any special magical abilities or powers others don't, but it's that he posesses the character and moral fiber that allows him to use his magical abilities to better others; and yet, he remains innocently oblivious of the impact he has on others. He's the very opposite of Gilderoy Lockhart.

Because we get the story from Harry's point of view, we rarely get to see what others think of Harry, but we can get an idea from how they treat him. Although Harry would never admit it, he must be endearing to others. He's won many people over just like Voldemort did, but unlike Voldemort, who manipulated people into liking him, Harry is naturally endearing. Here are a few examples: Fortescue must have taken a liking to Harry because he gave him free sundaes at his ice cream shop every half hour while Harry was doing homework; Hagrid, Dobby, and Colin Creevey are probably Harry's biggest fans; and we even see that McGonagall has taken a liking to Harry, though she rarely openly shows it.

A Little Rusty on the Detective Work

Over the summer, Harry must of gotten a little rusty on this detective abilities. I'm speaking here of his interaction with Fudge. Harry thought it was a little suspicious that he got off so easily after blowing up his aunt. Harry did figure out that Fudge let him off easy because Black is after Harry, but what Harry failed to do was think about Fudge's motivations. We know from the last book what kind of man Fudge is. He's mainly concerned about saving face. This case is no different. Fudge's intentions in meeting Harry at the Leaky Cauldron were less than noble. He knew that if anything happened to the "Boy who lived," then that would be a political disaster. The public would think that if Black killed Harry, he could kill any one of them. Fudge would be ruined. Harry should have picked up on this.


Harry behaves in Diagon Alley like I imagine a lot of 13-year-olds would. He finds it mildly tempting to blow a bunch of money on something he would use for school, but finds it almost impossible not to blow his whole fortune on the best racing broom in the world despite already owning the 3rd best racing broom in the world. I know some people who would have bought the broom anyway... and they're not even 13.