Sunday, November 24, 2013

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

1999, British hardcover Bloomsbury edition that's not the first but at least pre-Goblet-of-Fire, American paperback Scholastic edition from 2001
J. K. Rowling
American edition illustrated by Mary Grandpre
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
British edition possibly bought for 11.99, American originally $7.99 but purchase price 25 cents
British edition in good shape, American in surprisingly good condition especially considering the price

I found this equal to the second book (with probably Grandpre's weakest illustrations so far), although the characterisation is getting even more complex.  This is symbolised by the second title character going from "Black" to "Sirius" in the narration.  Harry changes from seeing Black as the man who betrayed Harry's parents to his kind, protective godfather.  Similarly, Ron's rat Scabbers turns out to be the real traitor.  And even Hermione has a secret that she hides all school year.  As for Harry, he contemplates murder!

The kids are growing up in other ways.  Not only fifteen-year-old Lee Jordan but thirteen-year-old Ron swears, although we're not told what specific words.  Ron has a crush on "curvy" Madam Rosmerta, and Harry has a funny feeling in his stomach when he meets pretty Cho Chang.  And Hermione actually mouths off to a teacher, several times, not to mention slapping Draco Malfoy.

This is a moment that became a punch in the movie version (probably the most popular moment in the film, the times I've seen it), affecting Rowling's own memory of the moment when she wrote of it again a few books later.  Even here, when the movies were not yet in production, she's remembering earlier events incorrectly, as when she says that Ron went to the Forbidden Forest twice before.  (In the first movie, Ron replaces Neville on that detention.)  And although I haven't commented on it before, but of course many have throughout the Internet, Rowling's maths and calendar skills are off in all her books, here notably with the dates for Buckbeak's criminal case.  On the other hand, I can't say I've really noticed a problem with her adverbs, notorious though she is for them, but that doesn't really bother me as such, especially in a children's book.

Is this a children's book, or have we hit Young Adult now?  I'd say it's on the border.  There are some innuendos (a fortune-telling book about "broken balls" and security trolls who compare the size of their clubs), but even with the swearing and violence and all, it's still a relatively innocent story.  And we get the usual pattern of Quidditch and classes and of course Gryffindor winning the House Cup again.  The next book of course will be a game-changer in many ways....

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