Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: JK Rowling
Our book starts quite eventfully at Number Four Privet Drive where Harry has been forced to endure a rather unpleasant houseguest – a relative of the Dursley’s who wants nothing more to abuse him, and who, of course, gets away with it. He tries to behave. Tries to do what he can to endure, but ends up accidentally inflating her and leaving her to float as he packs his things and rushes out of the house a week or so too early to go back to Hogwarts.
While outside, he gets picked up by the Night Bus, a large, purple bus (according to my Lego set) with two employees – the driver and the, um, steward? – and brass beds and crystal chandaleers. Harry pays a few coins to get a bed and gets driven to Diagon Alley, the only wizarding place he knows other than school, and the one he’s sure to be safe from the Dursleys at.
Several things happen, including some that make him once again paranoid (because, you know, when Voldemort is out to get you, the whole world is too. Ahem.) and he’s more than happy to spill all the information he knows to Ron and Hermione as soon as he can. Most of this conversation is told in the inn that he ends up staying at alone (because all 13-yr-old boys should be left alone at wizard inns) and then more later on the train to Hogwarts (yay, they made it this time!) while in a train car with the new DoD teacher. Because, this being Hogwarts and all, the teacher is sleeping, so he could never be listening in. (Note, no, he didn’t listen in, but this was Hogwarts, and that was out of character for everyone involved.)
As the story progresses, we have to deal with Ron and Hermione fighting, her new cat who is trying to eat Ron’s rat, and some new force ready to kill him. Cause, you know, He’s Harry Potter.
It would seem that some horrible terrible criminal, Sirius Black, was out to get him. And although no information is given to Harry about him, he manages to overhear just enough to be dangerous about it.
Add in Hermione having too much homework, Hagrid having some dangerous terrible creature that can kill you, the Malfoys being, well, Malfoys… You know, all the stuff that happens as much (actually more) than breathing in these books.
You’ve probably read the book already, but in the off chance you haven’t in the last dozen years it was out, I’ll skip the spoiler for the ending.
Overall, I think this is easily my favorite book out of the first three. We miss the sorting hat again, but Rowling really managed to balance general life at Hogwarts with Harry the chosen one and his band of scoobies. Even though I have a stack of books here, I couldn’t wait to get to this one and read it in a couple nights before I could continue on.
I still think there are a few fundamental flaws with Rowling that she never really did overcome, and this is book three of a series = which actually proves the old notion that for some reason one is good, two is crap, but three is awesome – so I’m going to give it a four out of five. Easily readable without the rest of the series, but do you really want to own it if you don’t have the rest?