Friday, February 15, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Azaban.2

When I was in middle school school, my mom and I went on a weekend trip to the Niagara Falls.  While we were in the tourist trap that is the first mile of Canada beyond the border, we wandered into a store that was selling Harry Potter books.  Except that they had different covers.  At that age it was soooo cool and I begged my mom to buy me one, any one, even though I already had them all with the American covers.  At that time, only the first three were out, so my choice was obvious: Prisoner of Azkaban.  It was all different, and British, and it was the first time I realize that the books had been "translated" into American English because some of the sayings weren't the same (but I can't remember which right now because it's at my parents' house).  Also, it was actually portable.

Happy Harry Potter Day, y'all.
Main post.
As much as I love this book, it's really a miserable time for poor Hermione.  She's bitten off more than she can chew in terms of schoolwork and her best (and only) friends keep finding reasons to treat her like crap.  She doesn't always help herself in this regard (see: Crookshanks) but she really was trying to help Harry with the Firebolt and his gloating upon getting it back was just not necessary.  Meanwhile, Harry and Ron are also being dicks to Hagrid by not helping him like they'd promised, until Hagrid's like "hey, you guys are being dicks" and Ron's all "omg, you're right, I will HELP now" and Harry's still all "nah, I don't feel like it."  The intricacies of British magical beast law is not nearly dangerous enough for his inquiring mind.  But then this happens and it is awesome:

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And then Harry learns to make a Patronus using a boggart that apparently mimics more than just a dementor's form but also it's whole... pysche?  Aura?  And I kind of call shenanigans on that, but then Harry hears his parents' voices right before they die and is forced to make an awful choice because as awful a thing as that is to hear, it's the only time he can remember hearing their voices, making it a memory too complicated to be easily banished.  Would you rather be miserable and pass out when you hear your dead parents' voices or not hear them at all?  It's not an easy choice.  The more closely I read the series, the more disturbing are moments like this one.  JK's mind is a dark and twisted place but so compelling.

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So then there's time travel!  Which always inspires fun questions about rules!  Like, do they age while using the Time-Turner?  Because that would make Hermione like 6 months older than she should be, and Harry 3 hours older.  And if so, if you're really into time-travel could you potentially die at an age that is decades older than calendars say you should be?  And is time linear or circular?  Did Harry and Hermione always save Buckbeak or did he die and then they went back and got him before he died?  This part's fun because the way JK writes what they hear as they leave Hagrid's cabin could make it go either way.  And also, does Snape not know that Hermione has the Time-Turner?  Because I think that the teachers should know that, and probably the Minister too, which should make the reason behind Buckbeak and Sirius's mysterious escapes much more obvious.

Speaking of Snape, can we talk about how, despite acting like a total dick in the Shrieking Shack and later on, he's much less of a dick and much more interested in protecting Harry et al. than Sirius Black? Sirius is downright disturbing, which I get since he was in Azkaban for 12 years and spent the last year in the form of a dog with nobody but a cat to talk to.  But still.  Sirius does not come off well here.  He, for example, chooses to tie up Snape and let his head bang on the ceiling while leaving the shack.  Snape, on the other hand, puts Sirius on a stretcher to transport his inert body up to the castle.  Despite fully believing Sirius to be a mass murderer, he shows him this modicum of respect.  Interesting.  And also, he puts himself between the children and the werewolf.
Okay, that's just in the movie, but still.  Hint, hint, wink, wink, maybe he's not so bad, 13-year old me.  Also, maybe he should still get the Order of Merlin because he did catch Black and it's not his fault that the government and the dementors couldn't hold him.  And maybe that would make him less bitter.

For the first time in the series, the novel ends on a bittersweet note.  It's not all feasts and permission slips and promises of the Quidditch World Cup.  There's also the sad knowledge of the home Harry could have had and the one he has to go back to in its place.  There's that realization as you grow up that the split between good and evil isn't so clear (though that will be explored more in-depth later in the series) and that the truth we believe in may not be right.  This is the book where Harry grows up and while it makes for better reading, it's also a sad time.

Up next is Goblet of Fire!  Which means that I can start reading again because we're all on the same page now (literally).  See you next week, readalongers!

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We'll be seeing more of him next week.


  1. It was super depressing to realize Hermione has NO friends other than Harry and Ron. I mean, how sad is that? The only person she could cry to is Hagrid. Not that Hagrid isn't awesome, but it would've be nice if there was someone her age she could have gone to.

    I was/am confused about how exactly the Patronus works on the Boggart, which isn't actually a Dementor. Cos wait, wha?

    I love that (in the movie, anyway) that Snape puts himself between the kids and werewolf Lupin. It's such a good moment that I wish was in the book. Snape has so many layers! Like an onion! (I'm now picturing a Snape/Shrek hybrid.)

  2. Whoa. WHOA. I agree Sirius does some things that I wouldn't necessarily do in this book -- BY THE WAY although Sirius is not the real reason that James and Lily are dead, Snape IS the real reason, so I feel like Sirius is justified in throwing some anger Snape's way -- but he doesn't do anything to not-protect Harry. He would never! His whole thing is protecting Harry!

    You are totally right about Harry being a jerk to Hermione in this book. He is a very big jerk to her. And poor thing, she's all weepy and exhausted and thirteen. It is sad for her to get shunned in this manner by her best friends when all she's doing is trying to make sure they are safe. It should not have required Real Talk from Rubeus Hagrid to make Harry realize this.

  3. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who noted the difference between Snape and Black and the way they treated each other's unconscious bodies. Just one more reason why I love Snape's character and think the series would pivot as well around him as around Harry.

    and yes! that moment from the movie has always stayed with me, when snape puts himself between the werewolf and the trio. god damnit, he may hate them and want them expelled, but he's also not about to let them get hurt, not on his watch. and i secretly believe, though it can never be proved, that it was the presence of the students in the shrieking shack that made him run there. if he'd merely seen lupin & black there, he could have taken the time to grab dumbledore or the minister, but he saw three students in danger and knew there was no time to run for extra help.

  4. I guess that the boggart has to mimic the effects of the dementors because that's what's really scary about them, rather than just the way that they look, as is the case with spiders and stuff.

    YES THIS IS ALL TRUE OF SNAPE! I mean, I find a lot of things about him indefensible, but hey, he does kind of give Sirius a bit of respect, huh? I haven't seen the movie (I KNOW) but I really wish that him putting himself between the kids and the werewolf happened in the book because that is absolutely something that he would do because if nothing else, he's good at being teacherly and protecting the kids in that way. Ah, Snape...

  5. I'm a pretty staunch defender of Sirius (though not nearly as impassioned as Jenny!)so I don't completely agree, but I do think Snape deserves some credit for the care he takes for the kids - even if he does cover it 20 layers of ice and sarcasm and snark. Also, I really wish the Lupin/Snape scene was in the book, because it's such a nice revelation that Snape isn't so bad BUT it would make the rest of the events different so I'm a little conflicted.

  6. I do love Snape, though I hate how rude he is to Hermione. It'd been so long since I'd read the book, and I've seen the movie so many times since, that I was completely shocked that Snape was still unconscious and didn't throw himself between the kids and werewolf Lupin. It makes so much sense for his character that I'd just replaced it as book-canon. Taking away his Order of Merlin was pretty harsh.

  7. Mmmmm, Snape.

    Also, I don't really buy how Harry's all I LOVE YOU SIRIUS (I mean, thoughts of Sirius as his happy-patronus-making-thoughts?) when ok in theory we get that Sirius is his godfather and his dead father's best friend BUT so far in the book he's just been murdery-creepy and then not-as-murdery-but-still-creepy and then been like, Come live with me, little boy. I'd still have some reservations, is what I'm saying.

  8. Allons-y!

    I hate how the boys were so mean to Hermione. She's so good at standing up to Trelawney, Malfoy, and all the other slytherins out there, but Harry and Ron make the worst bullies ever :(

    I've always wondered if Hermione is now like a year older than her friends since she's had to "relive" parts of her day...

    This ending is so bittersweet - kills me!