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My least favorite of the Potter novels. The plothole killed it for me., October 17, 2007
on September 1, 2012
Without a doubt my least favorite of the series. I got into Potter back when only the first three books were out, and quite some time before this book came out, and I was all psyched for it. Then I read it, all 700+ pages of it. While I found it engrossing, it certainly wasn't as good as AZKABAN.
Actually, Amazon ruined the book for me. I was online reading reviews here after I finished the book (this was back in 2000), and one of the reviews pointed out the plothole that why didn't Mad Eye Moody just make a portkey out of anything, rather than make Harry go through all the trouble with the Triwizard Tournament, and I really didn't have any answer to that. So after I finished the book, I didn't read it again for seven years, because this plothole took out the whole point of the book.
When I reread all six books in preparation for DEATHLY HALLOWS this summer (which I finished them all with a week to spare before Hallow's release date), I picked this up again. It had been a long time since I read it, and the plothole always turned me off so much whenever I did reread the Potter books I never could bring myself to read this one.
Going through it a second time, in context with the rest of the series, this is definitely when Potter got into darker territory. But Potter was always dark anyway, and while this is always thought of as the turning point in the series as far as darkness goes, AZKABAN is pretty dark too.
Potter has been enrolled in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous tournament that you must be 17 to enter. Potter is entered without his consent, and much too young. Ultimately the three events they must go thru are dangerous and at the end of the third we see Voldemort's plot unmasked.
As far as the plot hole, I've read several different theories on why Voldemort's agent wouldn't have used the portkey before then. One possible explanation, which I wish Rowling would have used, was you can't use portkey within the grounds of Hogwarts, but under this especial circumstance the use of portkeys was allowed at the end of the tournament. Another issue is Barty Crouch Jr. He must truly want to serve Voldemort to do what he did. Still, it would be a lot of work to drink polyjuice potion every hour for a school year straight.
We get the first real death in the series (at least, a character we have come to know and not offscreen or backstory deaths). Poignant, but the death appears more to be included so she can move the series into darker territory than any natural artistic progression.
There are some great scenes in this one, especially the Quidditch World Cup, and introduction of other international schools (a thing we have not yet seen - so far we only know of magic in Britain). Rowling also clearly lays more foundation to Ron and Hermione as a couple, a plotline that would not find full resolution until Book 7. Still, those who always thought Harry and Hermione should end up together, read this book more closely. It's pretty obvious from Book 4 on Ron and Hermione would end up together. There's a lot of sexual tension in the air between those two. Harry, on the other hand, is quite up in the air at this point, though we know in Book 7 who he ends up with.
While it is my least favorite of the Potter books, it's still an entertaining read. This is clearly the book where Rowling moves beyond children as a primary audience and bringing more complexity and maturity to the series, which is the reason why as the books progress they are more adult oriented than the early volumes.
Still, I find myself in the minority. I know a lot of people who love GOBLET. There are certainly some great scenes and memorable passages throughout the book. I just wish Rowling would have fixed the plothole better (and it wouldn't be that hard to fix).
These are my order of Potter books by preference:
Prisoner of Azkaban
Order of the Phoenix
Philosopher's Stone/Chamber of Secrets (I rank them both the same)
Goblet of Fire.