It seems like a lot of my friends and family have been either reading or re-reading JK Rowling's Harry Potter series lately, thus causing me to reflect on my feelings about the tale of the boy who lived. It's a magical series -- for children and adults -- that I, unfortunately, did not read until early last year. When I finished the series I immediately wanted to go back to the first book and take the journey all over again, but I didn't. My TBR list is simply too long. Still, I plan to re-read these books very soon -- the characters come to me in my mind at the most random of times, and I want to visit them again.
I honestly feel that all seven novels in this series are perfect, but some are just a little more perfect than others.... so I've decided to rank them. The order I've decided on will probably change after a re-read, mind you. In fact, I'm willing to bet it'll change as soon as I click the "post" button. There's been a lot of debate over this list (aside from the #1 spot, actually), and it is what it is. Here we go....
7. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone
This isn't a bad novel in the least. In fact, it's probably the most care-free and innocent of the seven novels. It just doesn't as fully realized as the other six books, and it suffers because of that. Still, it's neat seeing Hogwarts and the main characters for the first time. Sorcerer's Stone is a charming, perfect introduction to this wonderful literary world.
6. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
I feel like putting this book so low on the list is almost blasphemous, but I simply couldn't put it any higher. While filled to the brim with memorable scenes of all sorts -- romance, nostalgia, battles -- that will have you reaching for the tissues, the middle section is a bog to get through and could have done with some more editing. And, like, everyone I loved died in this book. Boooooo. Still, it's a very fitting end to this series and one I suspect might go up a bit in my ranking after reading it again.
5. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
This is the book in which the main characters begin to mature a bit, which is nice. As well, there are some great scenes with Hagrid and the time travel aspect was cool as all get out. As well, who could forget the dementors?! Still, this one felt like a bit of a slog for me -- it felt like there wasn't quite enough story, even for it's rather short length.
4. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
I think I like this one more than most folks. Of all the Harry Potter novels, this is the one that seems to get a bad wrap. Sure, it's a bit of retread of Sorcerer's Stone but it's a rather good story on its own. I especially dug the first few chapters in which the reader gets to be in the Weasley home and spend some time with Ron's family. I also really liked the fact that this book is the closest Rowling has ever come to a traditional mystery novel -- a genre she should try writing in more often.
3. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
Man, this novel. The end alone makes it one of the most emotional and heartbreaking in the series, and the rest of the book is fraught with revelations about several characters. Perhaps the most frenetically paced in the series, I finished this one faster than any other HP book -- and I'm not the only person I know of who could say the same.
2. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
Yes, this is the longest book in the series. Yes, it could have benefitted from some serious editing. Yes, Harry is a huge, whiny baby for the first fourth or so. Yes, he has a tendency to TALK IN ALL CAPS WHICH ANNOYS THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF ME. For all of that, I still rank this at number two and I really can't tell you why. Once one gets past the first ten or so chapters, this book really takes off. Rowling tries some things here she hadn't tried previous, and they make the story sing.
1. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Far and away my favorite Harry Potter book, and probably in my top 3 books of all-time. From the first page to the last I was completely enthralled. For me, this book is the most pleasurable and memorable -- I can still recall most of the scenes found within. The tension between Ron and Harry.... the fight with the dragon.... Rowling's clever commentary on the press.... that scene in the graveyard. This is the book in which it's very clearly shown that this isn't a series for children only -- adults can enjoy it too. It's the perfect marriage of the bright and childlike whimsy of the first three books and the heaviness of the final three books, making for an excellent series midpoint.
Those are my thoughts. Now it's your turn! Let me know what you think in the comments.