Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Publication Date: First published 1999
Harry's ongoing exploits, along with those of his contemporaries, teachers, and relatives, are as imaginative, entertaining, and mysterious as ever. For during Harry's third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he must face his greatest challenge yet: a confrontation with Sirius Black, an escaped convict and madman who is rumored to be in cahoots with Harry's archenemy, the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort. This alone would be daunting enough, but Harry's task is made even more trying when he discovers that Sirius is suspected of being the one who killed Harry's parents.
For Harry, the Hogwarts campus has always been a sanctuary, but when Black escapes from the horrifying clutches of Azkaban Prison, all clues suggest the madman is headed for Hogwarts and Harry himself. As a result, the school starts to feel more like a prison than a sanctuary as Harry finds himself constantly watched and under guard. What's more, the terrifying Dementors - the horrifying creatures who guard Azkaban Prison - are lurking about the campus looking for Black. And their effect on Harry is a devastating one.
Still, life at school offers plenty of distractions. Harry really likes the new teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts, Professor Lupin, who might be able to teach Harry how to defend himself against the Dementors. But Professor Snape's behavior toward Lupin has Harry wondering what secrets the two men are hiding. Harry's friend Hermione is also acting very strangely. And, of course, there is the tension caused by the ongoing Quidditch competition between the Gryffindors and the Slytherins and the never-ending bullying of the Slytherin leader, Draco Malfoy.
This is definitely my favorite book of the series, so far. I can't believe ALL the stuff that is in it that wasn't in the movie! I love the history this story provides. It definitely made for a much richer reading experience; now I not only know about Harry, but I know a little about his family, and how they influenced his future, even before they passed away.
I really like that we took a break from the Voldemort plotline, and got a better look at Harry's parent's past. It added to his character arc in such a unique way, because this is the first book that I have felt like Harry was able to be well and truly happy. Knowing even just these small parts of his past (and things like why his father was nicknamed prongs--so cool) seemed to add pieces to his own identity, enough to change his entire demeanor. And I was so happy for him, finally having Sirius and Lupin to look to as proper family--people who he knows really care about him. I love that part on the last page where Harry tells the Dursleys about Sirius, saying, "He was my mum and dad's best friend. He's a convicted murderer, but he's broken out of Wizard prison and he's on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though . . . keep up with my news . . .check if I'm happy . . ."
A few other things I liked are the Marauder's Map--which is the coolest thing ever invented--Dumbledore, who is just awesome--especially since he always knows everything, and how hilariously funny it was to imagine Lee Jordan (is the person? I don't have the book right now) announcing the quidditch matches. I also think the twist with the time-turner seemed much more thrilling in the book, than in the movie. I never doubted everything would be pulled off when I watched the movie, but there seemed to be a more immediate need for the time-turner in the book, and that translated into more suspenseful reading.
I gave this 4.5 stars when I first finished, because I was sure I couldn't have loved the book enough to be giving it 5 stars. But after trying to come up with something negative to say about it, all I could come up with was one thing. So I'm giving it the 5 stars it deserves. :) And about that one thing: Maybe I just missed this while reading, but my question is: if the Marauder's Map "never lies," why didn't Professor Snape see Harry and Hermione sitting at the edge of the woods after they used the time-turner, at the time when he saw Professor Lupin disappear into the tunnel? He should have seen them.
Although out of the entire book, I'll take that one inconsistency and move on. I was much too enthralled to be held up by one small thing.
...you like heartfelt adventures.