'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'
And Why It's the Best Book
Ever get asked what your favorite Harry Potter book is? Ever have trouble giving an answer? Well, I have the answer for you and the reason why Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is undoubtedly the best book in the series.
Let’s start with the obvious, while Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are great books, they are still children’s books, and while the whole series grows with the characters, Prisoner of Azkaban is the first book that shifts it into a much darker series, maturing and getting much more complex setting the tone for the later books.
It is the only book in the series that doesn’t have Voldemort as the antagonist, nor does anyone die, making it stand out from the rest of the series for these reasons, alone. Even though Voldemort doesn’t make an appearance, the book does, however, start to scratch the surface of the complicated backstory, leaving hints of what to expect in the next four books.
We ask so many questions throughout the book, such as “How is Hermione taking all the classes?” “Why is Lupin always sick?” and “Who are Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew?”
And they all link into the plot twists. While the first two books were no strangers to plot twists, this one has a lot more combined than the first two put together. Hermione is using time travel, Remus Lupin is a werewolf, Sirius Black was wrongfully convicted, and Harry’s godfather and Peter Pettigrew are alive and well, having lived as the Weasley's pet rat for the last 12 years. The book is so well-written and the hints so subtlety give that it is not easy to guess any of these (unless you’re as smart as Hermione, which I am not).
The books include a lot of moral lessons, such as “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” “Never jump to conclusions before knowing the full story,” “Things are never as they seem,” and “People can change.”
It introduces two of the best and most complex characters in the whole series: Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. The introduction of them brings a lot to the books, such as making James and Lily Potter seem more human than a memory to the wizarding world, showing friendship can survive the test of time, and how a severe trauma can change people. They are also the first adults in the series to treat Harry, Ron, and Hermione like adults and continue to do so till the end.
The book is the most important in the series because of the foreshadowing done by Professor Trelawney. She predicts that Peter will survive and return to Voldemort, and that Voldemort will return. When she refuses to join the table at Christmas because when 13 dine together, the first to rise will die, this comes to light again in Order of Phoenix when Sirius is the first to rise from a table of 13 after having dinner. It also gives the first hint at the prophecy, “Neither can live while the other survives,” when Dumbledore jokingly says he should offer her a pay raise because it brings her total of real predictions up to two.
The expansion of the wizarding world is by far my most favorite element in this book. Up until this book, we had only been introduced to the Hogshead, Diagon Alley, and Hogwarts, all of which make an appearance once again, but in this book it introduces so much more to the wizarding world such as:
- The Night Bus, which in my opinion was most likely created for squibs and drunks to be able to travel.
- Hogsmeade: This place just sounds like the coolest place to hangout with your friends on the weekend and Honeydukes would just be like heaven (I’d never leave).
- TIME TRAVEL! I love anything to do with time travel, and the time tuner is by far the second best way to do it (you’ll never be able to beat a time machine built from a modified DeLorean and powered by plutonium).
- Dementors: These are some of the first creatures introduced in this book, and—by far—are the most terrifying. I’d rather die than have dementors suck my soul out.
- Hippogriffs, werewolves, and care of magical creatures: Before this, we’d only ever seen the typical magical creatures that have appeared in other stories, such as owls, rats, cats, toads, dragons, centaurs, and a three-headed dog, but we’re introduced to more interesting creatures in this book.
- The Marauders Map: This map shows you everywhere and where everyone is in Hogwarts, and it is up to this point, the most extraordinary use of magic. It's something I definitely wish was a real thing.
And last, but not least, it gives us some of the best scenes and quotes in the series:
- When Snape takes the map from Harry and tries to get it to reveal itself and it just starts insulting him.
- The DADA class where Neville gets back at Snape by having the boggart appear to him as Snape dressed in his grandmother clothes.
- When Hermione slaps Malfoy (punches him in the movie).
- Harry blows up his Aunt Marge.
- When the Weasley twins give Harry the Marauders Map.
- “Don't let the muggles get you down.”
- “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
- “Mischief Managed.”
- And the best one, “Turn to page 394.”
And that is why, in my opinion, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the best book in the series.