*Spoiler Line: PROCEED WITH CAUTION*
So I will admit that I didn’t write as much in the way of notes for book 4, because I was pretty gripped from the start. I know it sets a very different tone, but I’ve always liked that creepy opening and how it builds up the sense that this is going to be a very different book from what’s come before… although not too different, since it’s quickly followed by the humorous introduction of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and then flies into the Quidditch World Cup (who else was devastated that they never included that in the films?)
It’s not all fun and games though and things quickly take a dark turn (one could even say that moment of cheer was just a Wronsky Feint 😉 ) with a hint of all the grim things to come. I’m talking, of course, about the Death Eaters- I mean, who wasn’t freaked out by them as a kid?!? Or even as an adult?! That injection of terror is incredibly powerful and seeing the mistreatment of muggles is a strong moment in the series, pushing the message of anti-racism very effectively.
I am always impressed with the plot of Goblet of Fire, although I did notice more kinks this time round. For instance, while Barty Crouch is an excellent villain and I love how he outsmarted everyone, I couldn’t help but wonder… how?! I mean, did it never occur to Dumbledore that Harry was put in the Tournament because someone wanted him to win it? Especially as it becomes apparent that he was never in any danger in the first two rounds and he seems to do remarkably well. But I guess child safety is never the Hogwart’s headmaster’s biggest concern and Harry’s happy to throw caution to the wind in an effort to win. Like I said, I really enjoy this plot and the dramatic showdown in the graveyard is dead epic, so it’s probably best not to think about it too much…
That said, Voldy is a moron– Wormtail points out to him that literally any wizard would have done and that abducting Harry seems like a waste of effort- but does he listen to his advisor? No, of course not, he has to go with the convoluted plan and gets lucky that Dumbledore’s not paying too much attention to all the strange goings on at his school. And then when he has Harry in his grasp he goes and gives him his wand back, affording him a chance to escape (but whatever, he’s obviously not checked out Peter’s Evil Overlord list, which Cameron Graham introduced me to yesterday).
Speaking of characters I’m not always so keen on, I liked Ron less and less in this one (sorry!). It started with him being touchy about Harry’s gift (who, to be fair, is splashing the cash about). But then he’s a *total* jerk about the whole champion thing and is the walking embodiment of jealousy… until he can bask in the glory of his friend’s success again. He only takes a break from that to complain about not getting a good enough date to the Yule Ball (just try that irl and see how attractive you are to women).
I’m not exactly under the spell of the romance in Harry Potter– but I have to say that the introduction of Cho Chang as Harry’s love interest is sorta endearing. Sure, it’s stupid and immature, but that’s kind of what you’d expect at that age. I personally think that Rowling got the trials and tribulations of first crushes down to a T here. Even if I think some of the pairings leave a lot to be desired.
Still there are other things that leave more of a sour taste in my mouth– namely that this is the year of the SPEW subplot. I’m not fond of it at all. Not only does it slow down the story and make the book feel a little overlong, but I find it makes Hermione a bit irritating. I get that it’s representing her as a mini activist and so it makes sense that she’s pretty oblivious to what the House Elves actually tell her they want, but maybe she could have just asked. Although, I do think it’s solid character development and ends up being another example of the ongoing Hermione is always right theme in the series. Whatever Hermione says is always a good metric of where the narrative is heading- which is why she gets to have such a central role in the Rita Skeeter plot. And I have to say, while I’m on the fence about some of the other storylines, I’m not even remotely bugged about how that part plays out 😉
Okay, so I know I’ve been hypercritical in this review, but I wouldn’t take it too personally, cos this is still one of my favourites. And like I said at the start, I was too absorbed to take notes (clearly most of what I wrote were all the parts I had a question mark over). Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it this time round as much as I usually do though, which is why I’m giving it:
Rating: 4½/5 bananas
So what do you think of book 4? Am I being a bit harsh? Let me know in the comments!