MuggleNet March Madness: Magical Feels and Why They Matter
Greetings, witches, wizards and Muggle fans of MuggleNet! I’m here to share with you the next installment of our March Madness series, in which the staff ranks their favorite books of the series in order. To tell you a bit about myself, I’ve been a fan of the series since I was eight years old and living the dream as a MuggleNet staff member since fall of 2013. (Right after Fantastic Beasts was announced!)
I’d describe myself as Hufflepuff who enjoys nothing more than chances to discuss these books and how they’ve impacted my life. This series is one I’ve related to more than any other set of stories in my life. They’ve given me more feels than I could have ever anticipated. For that very reason, it was really difficult trying to put some of them in order since they all hold special places in my heart for different reasons, but I’ve managed to do it and am excited to share! Let’s kick it off with . . .
1) Half-Blood Prince
While Harry grows up without parents, I think the moment he loses Dumbledore is when his real test begins, and ending the book knowing what lies ahead drove me nuts. There’s so many things that can be said about why this book is my favorite, some of the biggest being it feels like a real climax before the final battle. I have always adored books that include big reveals and see the coming together of seemingly unrelated things, so watching how everything finally clicks into place here is just so enormously satisfying. Discovering Snape was the Half-Blood Prince and ending the book in such a way that left us guessing was simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. I feel as though this one also holds a special place in my heart because it was the first book I was able to go to a midnight release for – and I went dressed up nine hours early and was the first in line. That was one of the best nights of my life.
2) Deathly Hallows
This was an extremely close tie for me since I think Deathly Hallows is a WONDER of a novel. Bringing the entire story to a head in the epicest of battles on the grounds of our beloved school, losing characters we’d grown so much to love, and being right with Harry for every final step as he defies every odd to destroy the darkest evil just with the power of love both from and for his family and friends. The open at the close scene during “The Forest Again” always sends me into an extremely emotional place since since becoming a fan of the series, I’ve actually lost both of my parents. It was the most relatable in that way, the one that resonated with me the most out of any of them. It was also the end of an era, and as long as I live I’ll never forget the incredible moments before midnight when the book came out and the moment in which I read the final words. I have a tattoo planned of the phrase “All was well.” It’s a phrase that wraps up the story perfectly, reminding us that no matter what we go through, it will always get better in the end.
3) Prisoner of Azkaban
Prisoner has always stood out to me as unique and one of the best because it’s the one book that deviates from the normal plots of the others, with the story’s villain turning out to be innocent and a hero. The plot twist of this one has always been one of my favorites in any book I’ve read. It puts Harry through so much, by making him hate Sirius, to discovering the father figure he could have, to losing him all over again. Sirius was always one of my favorite characters of the series, so seeing how he comes into play and learning of what he’s been through puts Harry’s story into perspective. Most of what we know of Harry’s parents up to this point in the books is from people who didn’t know them as well, so to finally see those who were closest to them brings this book home in a personal way. Also, the entirety of the Marauders subplot is in my opinion just one of the best of the series. Jo, please stop kidding on Twitter, and GIVE US A MARAUDERS PREQUEL. Pretty please???
4) Order of the Phoenix
While this one used to come in at a much lower rating on my list, it’s aged like a good wine and honestly has what I consider some of the greatest moments of suspense of the entire series. The moment in “The Woes of Mrs. Weasley” where for the briefest moment, Rowling let’s us think she’s just killed off Ron, the near death experience with Mr. Weasley, the entire battle at the end where one of my favorite characters of the series passed through the veil (that is one fictional death I am NEVER recovering from) – all of these and so many other moments in this massive book completely put the reader through the ringer. I felt much like Harry in reading it – all caps locked emotions with no end in sight. This book also gives us Umbridge, who is pretty much just the evilest evil with frills. Best villain ever at doing the absolute worst to the heroes. #SorryNotSorry, Voldemort.
5) Goblet of Fire
This book is one that too often gets judged by its movie (which is in my opinion just a mess of NOPE), but really, there’re so many great things to it. This book came out while I was just finishing the third one, so it was the first new book I got my hands on. The Triwizard Tournament makes this book have great structure, and it serves as an excellent bridge between the early part of the series with Harry going through his ritual of pain of sorts as the hero and into the later part of the series in which Voldemort has returned, and the stakes are much higher. It rates a bit lower on my list only because the others are just so OMG. Really, I hate having to put something this excellent so low.
6) Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone
Classic. Iconic. Inspired. All words that could be used for describing this lovely intro to the series that swept me and the rest of the Muggle world off of our feet. It certainly feels the most magical as we go through the story experiencing everything with Harry for the first time, and it’s the one that sets the stage for so much of the universe we’re going to be experiencing over the next six. Certainly with the simplest of stories but not without great nuggets of info that get revealed later (I mean, for real, did anyone else see that guy who lent Hagrid a motorbike in the first chapter being as important as he was?!?! As Kat from staff would say, Obligatory Genius Moment.) I place it in sixth because I just couldn’t place the book that started it all in last place, but I feel like Philosopher and Chamber are pretty comparable in their magical goodness.
7) Chamber of Secrets
As stated above, this was a tough call. This book, too, has its incredible shining moments; everything with Ginny, the diary, and the Chamber is just spectacularly written and so wonderfully original. This book also contained a number of dark moments, which I think were placed well to get us ready for the storm of distressing feels that would come with Prisoner of Azkaban onward. Also, Gilderoy Lockhart, while being kinda funny and an interesting poke at the absurdity of celebs getting credit for things they didn’t do, still annoys the heck out of me and gets on my nerves to no end. We’re going to blame him for this being the bottom book on the list.
Overall, I realize the way in which I rank is based on more than the academic and literary merits of the story – what matters is how much I can understand and relate to Harry’s struggle and those around him. No words nor summary nor definitive ranking could ever really change the impact the Potter series has had on my life, but it’s been a pleasure sharing my ranking with you all.
But now to the time where YOU chime in! Share down in the discussions below what you think of my order as well as how you would have done it differently. Stay magical, Muggles!