Book Review – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (HP4)

JK Rowling

Hardback

2000

My re-read of the series continues with book four.  Which I could not read in any comfortable position due to its sheer size.  I can, however, kill intruders with it, so please feel free to break into my house any time between now and when I return it to the library.

Actually, with that I will start with my regular ongoing JKR rant.  It’s like, she had immediate awesome success, and then her editors decided they couldn’t possibly ever edit her for content or length.  Just let her ramble on and on forever.  With this one, depending on your version (UK/US, Hardback/Paperback), you’re clocking in at somewhere between 650 and 750 pages.  For a children’s book aimed at 12-14 year olds (supposedly.  The first one is RL5 according to Schoolastic, who grades those things in the US.  If she grew with her audience, a year at a time, like she says… ).

Okay, so, book 4 starts with an unfortunate incident in which the Dursley’s fireplace sort of explodes, followed by incredibly awesome seats at the Quiddich World Cup.  And tents that are bigger on the inside (Ahem, this is also the movie that featured David Tennant – make that bigger on the inside thing be exceptionally awesome, please and thank you.) where they camped in glorious style.  And with Krum taking the snitch but losing the match for Ireland, the festive atmosphere turns un-festive when somebody summons the dark mark.  Voldemort’s mark.

Now then, in my argument over stuff that should be edited, that paragraph was 200 pages in the book and about 15 minutes max in the movie.  Not that much happened for 200 pages.  But hey, we’re a quarter of the way through the book and haven’t made it to Hogwarts yet.

At Hogwarts, we finally get another sorting ceremony (oddly enough, because none of the characters of the new class seem to matter much), and we get a wonderful announcement that the Tri-Wizard tournament has returned.  Also, Mad-eye Moody is the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, and Snape glares and Draco et al are still annoying gits.

As the book progresses, Hermione is all up in arms about house elf rights and starts SPEW in an attempt to free them and get them salaries and better treatment.  It’s a bizarre side story line that, while it manages to further explain the differences in muggle/wizard lives, it does little to advance anything in the book.  But it wastes about 100 pages.  Honestly, I think it’s only in there because there wasn’t much going on for a lot of the year.

Between start of term and the Tri-Wizard Cup, we get a few faked homework assignments, a skrewt that blasts stuff out its rear end that affects human flesh, and an ongoing hatred of Harry Potter, extended because his name has come out of the cup.

We also meet Cedric Diggory, who is quite possibly besides Cho the only Hufflepuff student we ever really get to know.  And Rowling wonders why Hufflepuff gets a bad rap.

Blah Blah Blah.

Here’s the thing.  As a weapon or a doorstop, I’d give this book a five in a heartbeat.

But it’s a CHILDREN’s book, and it’s the size of Texas.  And *almost nothing happens*  We get one quiddich match (the cup), a dance at Christmas where Hermione *gasps* wears a dress because she’s a girl, and the Tri-Wizard where Cedric dies and Voldemort is revived with Harry’s blood.  Mad-eye turns out to not be Mad-eye and we’ve gone back to needing a DODA teacher come next year.

The story could have been told in about 300 less pages, and the book would have been better for it.

And the truth is that I was bored.  I read it quickly (just a few days while reading other books), but there wasn’t nearly as much quality for the quantity as that much of my time deserves.

All things considered (and the fact that the movie did this so much better – and I don’t generally like comparing movies and books), I’m only giving it a 2/5.  Moving on.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steven M. Moore
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 12:42:45

    Hi Mandi,
    I had to go back and thumb through Goblet to review my impressions. They were violently in agreement with yours. In general, I don’t like fantasy, and many stretches in the Harry tale reminded me why: too much filler. Yeah, I know it’s not a complimentary term, but I remember reading these books and scanning…yes, scanning, vast stretches of prose and feeling like I was reading Moby Dick’s treatise on how to render a whale into blubber or Verne’s seemingly endless description of undersea flora and fauna.
    I think some of my reaction (and many others’, including yours) is possibly due to expected styles. Nowadays many people are more into minimalist writing. In my own writing, for example, I try to describe a character well enough through dialog and action that the reader can “fill in his own picture” of what the character is like. That seems to draw readers more into the story. Rowling “leaves no stone unturned.” The reader must accept her vision of the characters and settings because she bludgeons the reader into submission. Different styles for different writers, I guess.
    All the best,
    Steve

    Reply

  2. Mandi M. Lynch, author
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 23:54:40

    I don’t at all mind long descriptions, but when it takes Harry 200 pages to get from Hagrid’s hut back to his room and nothing happens except that he walks there, there is a problem. And time and time again, Rowling has shown that she’s not being edited for content, just punctuation, and it drives me nus.

    Reply

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