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Harry Potter Books Ranked in Descending Order

Harry Potter is awesome, but some of the books are better than others. Here is my Critically Rated Harry Potter countdown.

#7: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This is the second book and it’s a little bit darker than the first one, but it’s still a kid’s book at this point. Voldemort is in it, but it’s just a teenaged version of him that was trapped in a diary. He’s not that formidable, and he hasn’t returned to power yet. It might not deserve to be the worst one, but I’ve got to start somewhere.

            #6: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. This is the book that started it all. First time readers might be amazed by how innocent Harry Potter is. He doesn’t know anything about being a wizard and he gets introduced to a magical world and we get to explore it with him. It sets everything up, it introduces a lot of the main characters in the HP universe. It transcends being a mere kid’s book, but it’s still a kid’s book.

#5: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This is a dark story, but it’s still a kid’s book. You start to see the potential of Harry Potter. You have the Dementors and the main introduction of Sirius Black. Voldemort is not the main threat, and they have a ridiculous time traveling subplot that takes away from the overall quality of the third installment.

#4: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The sixth book is just a set-up for the seventh book, and it’s pretty apparent upon reading it. Nothing much happens, except for a lot of backstory about Voldemort and the fact that Dumbledore dies. It seems like a step back in the series and it is.

            #3: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is the book where you learn how vast and expansive the Wizarding World is. You catch a glimpse of the Quidditch World Cup, you get to meet students from other wizard schools, and you start to see how Harry is different from his peers. Plus Voldemort returns to power and the series shifts into a darker gear.

#2: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This is the fifth book and the longest one of the series. J.K. Rowling goes into great depth and Harry accomplishes a lot in this book. He steps up, he’s actively trying to defeat Voldemort. He’s pretty much accepted his fate at this point. He realizes that he’s done more than most, and he starts to pass off what he’s learned to his fellow students. He becomes a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by the battle at the Ministry of Magic. The book is highlighted by the epic battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort.

            #1: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This is the final installment of the HP series and a beyond-satisfying conclusion to the saga. It goes back to the beginning and reminds you about everything you love about Harry Potter. It answers all the questions and wraps everything up in a pretty little package. The last book provides the most answers, and when you finish reading it, you don’t regret anything about sacrificing a good portion of your life following the exploits of a fictional character.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Marauder’s Map

The Marauder’s Map is one of the most important and magical objects in the Harry Potter Universe. Harry first comes across the Marauder’s Map in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The Weasley twins give it to him out of pity because he can’t go to Hogsmeade to buy candy. The map shows the entire blueprint of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and everybody’s exact location on the grounds. It is an extremely valuable and useful tool.

The Marauder’s Map is like checking in on Facebook. They know where you are and what you are doing. It’s an invasion of privacy, but no one gives a fuck. Everyone with a Droid or iPhone already has a personal Marauder’s Map in their pocket.

Back to geeking out. The Marauder’s Map was used multiple times throughout the remaining books to advance the plot. The only thing that bugs me… Why the fuck would the Weasley twins give it away? Why would anyone give it away? You can use it to see where everyone is around you. You could use it to steal, rob, rape, and kill. Or you could use it for good. Either way is cool. But you wouldn’t ever give something like that away for nothing. That’s the most unrealistic part of the Harry Potter saga.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)

Alfonso Cuarón directs the third movie in the franchise, taking over for Chris Columbus. The movie is much darker from the get-go, the Warner Bros. logo and opening titles are dark and gray, and we know that the Potter films are only going to get better.

Harry, Ron and Hermione are no longer kids, now they are teenagers. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are much more natural on screen in this one. The first two movies they were performing, now they are acting. Believe me, there is a difference. They know their characters now, and this screenplay gives them more material to work with. This movie is more character driven than the first two.

The adult cast continued to improve as well. Gary Oldman joined the cast as Sirius Black, Emma Thompson plays Trelawney, Michael Gambon takes over as Dumbledore, Timothy Spall is great as Peter Pettigrew, and David Thewlis plays Lupin. Not enough can be said about Alan Rickman as Snape, he can always be relied on to kick ass with just a few lines. Snape has a great moment where he instinctively protects Harry, Ron and Hermione from werewolf Lupin, it is insight to his true self.

The first two movies were great for laying out the foundation, but now a more accomplished director is able to build up the franchise.  Cuarón makes the word feel more natural and lived in. The students are still in robes, but they are disheveled and more casually strewn together. The wands are now much more unique and individualized, and they remain so for the rest of the films.  Hogwarts seems explorable and livable. The camera is much more dynamic. It sweeps around, it follows characters, and it gets hit with snow and rain. It feels like another character. This movie was a make or break point for the franchise; a bad director could have ruined everything. Cuarón improved upon everything Columbus did. I don’t have the facts to back this up, but I feel this movie got more people to read the books than any of the other films.

I wasn’t a fan of the time traveling aspect in the book. I feel it is a cheap to have time travel in a saga about magic, and I think J.K. Rowling realized the same and so time travel was never a plot device after Prisoner of Azkaban. That being said, I really enjoyed the time traveling aspect in the movie. They did it right.  Throughout the movie Hermione pops up suddenly, and later Harry gets hit by a rock, Hermione sees something strange, they are saved by mysterious howling, and Harry sees what looks like his father casting a patronus charm. Then later, they go back in time and you find out how Hermione was popping up suddenly, they find out that they threw the rock, that Hermione almost saw herself, that they were the ones howling and that Harry saw himself cast the patronus. And he even goes so far as to explain that he knew he could cast it this time, because he had already done it before.

A great movie, easily one of the best in the series. It is no longer a kid’s movie. Alfonso Cuarón is a great director and this film is proof. It is a part of a greater whole, but he made it very personal and very unique without ruining anything previously established. It sets up some story arcs for future installments, but it also stands out as its own film.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (book)

The third installment of Harry Potter finds the young wizard and his pals back at Hogwarts for another magical year. New teachers like Professor Lupin and Trelawney provide Harry with insight to his past (and future). A shadowy character from James and Lily’s past escapes from Azkaban prison, and rumor is he is looking for Harry.

This book is longer and darker than the previous two books. It is on the cusp of no longer being a children’s book. Voldemort is notably absent. In fact, there is no real antagonist in this story. We are lead to believe that Sirius Black is the villain, but he turns out to be anything but. Another thing that sticks out is the use of time turners. Twist it a few times, and you go back in time a few hours. Hermione uses one throughout the year in order to go to all her classes, some of which overlap. Hermione and Harry use it at the end to rescue Buckbeak and save Sirius.

It is worth nothing that Sirius Black is the Prisoner of Azkaban, so the book is essentially called Harry Potter and Sirius Black. Harry finds a father figure in him, and Lupin to a lesser degree as well. Lupin is a great teacher. He brings out the best in Harry and teaches him advanced magic. Harry is starting to become powerful. In the first two books, he relied on luck and help from his friends. Now he is capable of producing a patronus charm to take on dozens of dementors at once.

James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew were best friends when they were students at Hogwarts. They invented the Marauder’s Map, and Harry uses it throughout the book and through the rest of the series. Sirius Black seems to be a threat at first, and than you find out he is a good guy. Lupin was a good guy the whole time, but at the end he transforms into a werewolf, and he becomes a threat. It’s a cool role reversal. Trelawney seems to be a fraud, but then she makes an actual prediction and in later books we find out more about her past prophecies.

The names of the characters usually are clues to their true nature. Remus and Romulus were the two wolf cub brothers who founded Rome. Sirius is the dog star. Black is a reference to Rebecca Black and her dark magic corrupting the innocent.

This is a fun read, and it sets up even more story arcs that get resolved in later books. You start to see that J.K. Rowling had Potter all mapped out, and this book is when shit starts to get crazy.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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