MuggleNet March Madness: Ranking the Seven Books of Potterdom
Welcome to MuggleNet March Madness! Over the next several weeks a handful of MuggleNet staffers is going to be ranking the seven books of Potterdom from the best to the least best (in our opinions) and providing our analysis of why the books stack up the way they do (in our minds). But MuggleNet March Madness is not just for the MN staff. We want you to participate, too. Throughout March, join in by posting your lists and reasons in the discussion section below each MuggleNet March Madness post. Who knows? Perhaps your comment will be featured in our March 31 March Madness roundup!
Without further ado, MuggleNet March Madness, Round 1:
In order for you to get inside my head, without the use of Occlumency, to better understand my rankings let me start off by introducing myself. I’m Nicole. (“Hi, Nicole!”) I first came to the Potter series in high school. Once an avid reader, I had strayed. The problem was that I needed my summer reading points. Seeing my lack of motivation, a friend’s mother mentioned the Potter books. At that point, I (and my mother) was willing to try anything. Before you could say, “Accio,” all three (there were only three at that time) books were in my possession. Long story made short, I devoured them in a week. And then began the years of waiting….
That being said, this is my list:
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Deathly Hallows. How could the seventh and final book not be everyone’s favorite? (Just kidding—kind of.) I think this is my favorite book because I identify with Harry’s struggle to believe, to trust. And as Rowling has confessed, I find my mind often preoccupied with death. I faced a lot of death in my youth, so it makes sense to me that I would wrestle with this issue. Deathly Hallows deals with both of those struggles in a raw and honest manner. I think reading them makes me stronger in my ability to trust and helps me to “conquer death through love” in my own understanding. One more reason Deathly Hallows is my favorite: I feel it reflects my Christian faith most and helps me to understand my beliefs at a deeper level. Feel free to disagree, but Harry’s battle to believe Dumbledore has helped me overcome my struggle to believe in and trust God. Not to mention how thrilled I was at the two Bible versus on the graves. I can’t read them without thinking of Harry now.
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Half-Blood Prince. Dumbledore’s back, for starters. Sure, he dies, but (as I mentioned above) I am no stranger to death or funerals—I helped plan a funeral at age 16. I found attending Dumbledore’s funeral with Harry somewhat cathartic. Second, Harry is back on the Quidditch pitch! And he’s captain! And Luna’s commentator! Best year of Quidditch ever! Third, fourth, fifth, and down the line: We visit Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Ginny and Harry get together, Ron and Hermione are sort of together by the end, Grawp is a reformed giant, and Potions is finally Snape-free. In short, Half-Blood is a calm before the storm. It is our last journey through a school year at Hogwarts, laughing, learning, and loving with our favorite characters.
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Order of the Phoenix. Maybe I’m just into “darker” tales, but there is something about Order that really attracts me — I’ve read it more than any of the other books, though it is not my favorite. What happens in Order that makes it third? Dumbledore’s Army. A lot of time with Sirius before his death. Neville’s big turnaround in DADA. The Weasley twin’s antics—wonder what they did with the Portable Swamp? Harry’s first and last date with Cho. Marietta’s new “look,” etc. But despite all this goodness, why is Order not first or second? I can’t stand Umbridge. She makes my skin crawl. And Sirius dies. I must admit, his death hit me harder than Dumbledore’s. I think Rowling needed to write Sirius’s death, but it hurts to read, especially since there is no funeral. It is much harder to get over a death we don’t get to mourn “properly.”
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Prisoner of Azkaban. I bet you thought I was going to say Goblet of Fire since we seem to be going in backward order. Nope. Had to throw in a wrench. What I enjoyed about Prisoner was the subject of time. I have often wanted more hours in a day, and with Hermione and Harry in the end, I get them. Now I know, 24 hours a day is all I can or want to handle. I also enjoyed Harry’s relationship with Lupin, riding on the Knight Bus, that splendid time living in Diagon Alley instead of with the Dursleys, the generous gift of the Marauder’s Map, and Hogsmeade—can we say Butterbeer – to name a few. But Prisoner is fourth, why? Plain and simple: I wanted to go live with Sirius! (And the book is not as long as the three above. When it comes to Harry Potter novels I like them thick—which should make Order my favorite, but Sirius dies! I wish Umbridge had kicked the bucket instead!)
5. Harry and the Goblet of Fire
Goblet of Fire. It is long. Harry gets to fight a dragon. Hermione turns out to be a swan and catches Rita Skeeter. Defense Against the Dark Arts is fun. Draco is turned into a ferret. Harry finally has permission to visit Hogsmeade, and he gets frequent talks with Sirius. So what’s my problem? Why is Goblet fourth? For starters: No Quidditch. I love Quidditch. And Ron stops talking to Harry for a few painfully long chapters. Then again, Ron leaves in Deathly Hallows, and it is still my favorite. I guess I’m okay with Ron leaving but not the silent treatment. Mostly, though, I think the lack of Quidditch is what does it for me here.
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Chamber of Secrets. Honestly, I couldn’t choose between Chamber and Stone for sixth place, so I went with Chamber because Fawkes is in it, and we get to fly off in a Ford Anglia. Why is Fawkes so important to me? He’s a phoenix! The resurrection bird. His tears have healing powers, and his song is soothing. He produces a “magic beyond all we do here.” He’s another pointer and reminder of my faith, in a symbolic way. Not to mention, if I could, I would have a pet phoenix. So why sixth? To quote Lewis, “They are too few and too short.” Chamber is the sixth longest novel in the series and therefore sixth best on my list. Because “but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” – Jane Austen.
7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Philosopher’s Stone. I’m using the book’s proper name because Rowling is discussing a Philosopher’s Stone, not a Sorcerer’s Stone (see the works of John Granger, Hogwarts Professor, if you don’t understand the significant difference). Now we’re down to it. My eighth favorite book ever penned (yes, in my heart, one book will always supersede the Potter series—don’t use Crucio on me). Let me start by saying I owe a huge debt to Stone. If not for it, I may still be a dreaded non-reader. Stone reawakened a passion for story, for myth, in my soul that lead me to pursue writing and has blessed me with the opportunity to write on MuggleNet. Without Stone, there would be no Potterdom. So why is it at the least of my favorites in Potterdom—all of which I reread annually? Two reasons: Too short and too much time with the Dursleys, heaven help me. We get into Vernon’s head before we ever sit astride Harry’s shoulder! Granted, Rowling writes a brilliant opening. I love all of the books, but one of them had to be last, and Stone is the one.
There you have it. Round 1 of MuggleNet March Madness complete! See you in the discussions below.