Ranking the Harry Potter Books!

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Who’s the happy nerd anxiously awaiting the next Wizarding World movie? Most definitely that would be me! In eager anticipation, I have found myself trying to rank the novels according to their awesomeness.

Here goes!

7. Goblet of Fire
I was never a huge fan of the Goblet. I think it in large part has to do with my suspension of disbelief. Suspending it to allow the existence of magic, witches, wizards, and creatures? I have all the room in the world for that. Suspending my disbelief to allow the adults in a non-dystopian community to pit children against one another in exceptionally dangerous games involving magical creatures that are not easily controlled? I don’t have that much wiggle room in my willingness to believe.

I have to admit, though, that Moody (even if it was Barty Crouch Jr. Moody) scored the book (and movie) big points. I adore the character, and Jr. does such an excellent job impersonating him, it really is a high point of the novel. Also, Moody (particularly movie Moody) reminds me a great deal of my dad. If that tells you anything.

6. Chamber of Secrets
While the extra character development of good old Voldy is fascinating, I don’t get a good deal of authenticity from the rest of the plot. The expansion of Harry’s character with Parseltongue and the rescue of Ginny following battling a basilisk aside, I think Harry’s authenticity is greater in Stone. Harry’s movement forward alone feels more authentic in the first novel than the second. Yes, the rockslide requires it, but it just feels like “whelp, here I go, off by myself again!”

And don’t even get me started on Dumbledore selecting Lockhart to fill the Defense Against Dark Arts position. Once again, my suspension of disbelief skills do not stretch so far to allow that.

Positive side of Chambers? Even though I have a greater appreciation for Rowling’s later style, I do so enjoy the early novels. Despite their simplistic style, they capture the sense of wonder the Wizarding World has to offer, and that wonder is not lost in the second novel.

5. Philosopher’s Stone
While Chambers has some of the wonder, Harry’s initiation into the Wizarding World holds so much more wonder, mystery, and delightful, innocent excitement that I can’t help but hold the first novel higher than the second.

4. Prisoner of Azkaban
Can we all take a moment to give a big WTF to the scrambled plotline the movie gives us for Prisoner? If this were a ranking of the movies, Prisoner would be all the way at the bottom (well top, in this case) of the list in last place, with only the exclusion of Fred and George’s spectacular swamp in Phoenix offering challenging levels of outrage.

Okay, venting over. This novel really sees the beginning of Rowling’s expanding character development skills, and the plot benefits from it. The fabulously terrifying dementors, Sirius and his secret gift to Harry leading to a rift in the Trio when Hermione gets it confiscated, it’s all spectacularly, believably well-done. Then add in the feels when we finally learn the truth about Sirius, and add time travel to the mix.

The lack of Voldemort’s overt presence is not missed, and, really, it adds to the overarching plot. It breaks the monotony of step 1. School begins. Step 2. Voldemort schemes. Step 3. Harry Overcomes said schemes. Instead, we get a more humanized plot line that expands on Harry’s history and potential future while offering extra development in his relationships with pre-existing characters.

3. Order of the Phoenix
I had a hard time ranking Prisoner against Phoenix. Ultimately I decided that the developing relationship with Sirius as it is cut short allows Rowling to explore her characters more deeply than when they first meet. Plus, getting to see more of the anti-Voldy underground reminds us that it’s not just the Trio undermining Voldy (where again my suspension of disbelief would falter), but a group of skilled and experienced witches and wizards all doing what they can.

2. Deathly Hallows
While in both Phoenix and Hallows we get to see Voldemort’s resistance in a more formal capacity, in Hallows, the Golden Trio stand alone. And we also get the full back story of Snape and the full sacrifice he made to protect Harry. Rowling’s character development has fully evolved, and we get to see Neville finally step up and hold his own. Even more exciting, we get to see Molly Weasely kick Bellatrix Lestrange’s ass in a showdown the movie did zero justice to.

We also lose key characters, including Fred (who was my favorite twin, by the way), Remus and Tonks, Moody, and, heart wrenchingly, Dobby. I have one word for all of those lost in the final battle if ever their spirits question if we remember their sacrifice: Always.

1. Half-blood Prince
While we get so much from Hallows as their struggle carries them across the Wizarding as well as muggle worlds, in Half-Blood, we get so much humor and everyday reminders that these are just kids. Just regular teenagers struggling through first dates, heartbreaks, and teenage drama while still trying to save the world, and with all the darkness that surrounds them, that humor is a crucial reminder that life goes on despite the evil that threatens it.

Man. That was a task far more difficult than I had expected when I set out! I hope you all are looking forward to the new movie (I know I am!). Stay tuned for my ideas on throwing a Harry Potter party (the likes of which I’ve been to two, and neither of them were for children).

Cheers!

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