Collywobbles: Or Our Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Another week down and another book in our Harry Potter readalong has ended. This one is particularly heart wrenching as we are introduced to Messrs. Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, and Prongs. Here are a few of our thoughts on Book Three... 
 
M: This book is frequently labelled a turning point in the series; while the first two installments are by no means all sunshine and roses, Prisoner of Azkaban lacks even the semblance of lightheartedness found within the first two books. I feel like we get traces of it in places like Hogsmead, but the specter of the dementors pervades almost ever section of the novel.
I think this might be my least favorite book in the series. I love meeting Lupin and going to Hogsmead, but some of the storytelling is a bit clunky. And really, I will never stop thinking about this - why couldn't Lupin tell Harry he was a friend of his parents? Also, McGonagall reveals that she was a teacher of theirs - why has she never taken the time to talk to Harry about them? This is an orphan child that is hungry for stories of his family. He is apparently surrounded by people who knew them...share some stories! 
 
V: I think it's funny that this is your least favorite book. It's my third favorite, and this one (along with maybe book 4) seems to be most people's favorite. Sirius and Lupin are such beloved characters, and people adore this book often for that reason alone. It's interesting to see how different people approach the series. 
It's funny that you mention the parent thing. I've been thinking about that too, but I think Lupin has a pretty decent reason for never discussing James in detail. Since it's well-known that James and Sirius were best friends, and Sirius is on the loose and considered by all to be a mass murderer, it wouldn't really be the most prudent thing for Lupin to discuss that he was friends with James, and therefore Sirius. I'm sure people know they were friends, but as Lupin is already distrusted among Wizard-kind, I can understand him taking the precaution of distancing himself a little from those ties to such a notorious criminal. 
As for people like McGonagall, they probably just haven't thought about it. Harry never asks about his parents (most likely a trained reflex from 11 years with the "no-questions" Dursleys), and I don't think most people realize how little he knows about them. Dumbledore is the only one who seems to recognize Harry's hunger for information, and just about every time he is able to sit and have a conversation with Harry, he tells Harry more about his parents. 
What I found interesting in this book is how it offers the barest hints of information that will become vital later in the series. For instance (without spoiling anything), we get mention of Professor Trelawney having made a previous prediction, as well as the backstory of James and co at school. We also get quite a bit of backstory on Snape, or at least the threads of it, which becomes quite important later on. Even the idea of the dementors not being entirely underMinistry  control is mentioned very briefly. The foreshadowing in Chamber of Secrets was incredibly obvious to someone who knows the end of the series, but the hints in this book are way more subtle and easier to miss. 
A couple of my favorite things about this book: 1) Lupin's constant sass. He does it politely and with a smile, and it's hilarious. 2) The Quidditch Cup. I'm really glad it took Gryffindor three books to win the Cup, because it really built up the tension for that final match against Slytherin. Especially have played and watched Muggle Quidditch, I completely understand the tension involved in the scoring before catching the snitch and everything. 3) Lee Jordan's commentary. I simply love it.
I was most bothered by Harry and Ron's quite unkind treatment of Hermione in this book. I know they're only 13, but what did you think about that??
 
M: At one point after discovering Lupin went to school with his father Harry says "you must have know Sirius Black as well" and Lupin replies "I thought I did." Oh, that part breaks my heart. It does seem that it would have been both difficult and dangerous for Lupin to talk about his old friends. And with Sirius escaping and having Harry thrust into his life you can imagine that the emotions he had been coping with for the last twelve years would be overwhelming. I think this is true for Snape as well...I don't want to delve too far into Snape's backstory considering we don't learn much about it until later in the series, but the resentment and despair of his entire life is personified in Harry Potter then exacerbated by the escape of Black and the position of Lupin at Hogwarts. And he still brews Lupin's much needed potion! I've said before that I am not a Snape apologist, but I am a bit more sympathetic to him this time around.
We both mentioned on Twitter just how complex this series is. The entire history is so fully realized that I cannot help but wonder how much of this world Rowling has in her head that she hasn't shared with us.
As for the trio's many bumps in the road this year I'll say this, I have two siblings (one older and one younger) and I can say from experience that with three close friends alliances build and fall constantly but the three of you are always a unit. When it matters Ron, Hermione, and Harry all come together. It makes sense for them to have falling outs once in a while. Plus, the tension between Ron and Hermione is building. They are weirded out by their attraction to one another and it comes out in their preteen state as anger sometimes.

And finally, I take your joy in Lupin's sass and raise you McGonagall throwing major shade at Trelawney. The Christmas dinner scene is fantastic.

V: Oh I certainly understand the fighting and bickering between friends who almost resemble siblings in a way. I grew up with two brothers myself (also one older and one younger...imagine that), so it's understandable that they fight. It would be unbelievable if they didn't. But Harry and particularly Ron seemed to be just mean to Hermione in this book. The poor girl has so much going on, she's stressed to the max and clearly trying to do more than she can handle (which is kind of nice to read, as it reinforces Hermione's humanity), and she really was just trying to help. They kind of abandon her at her most vulnerable point in the series so far, and Ron especially is kind of cruel about it a couple of times. I just found myself feeling really bad for Hermione and being quite angry at Harry and Ron for their poor treatment of her. I know Hermione didn't exactly start off the series with friends, but the loneliness of being friendless is completely different from the loneliness of your friends ignoring you. I feel for her.

You make an excellent point. McGonagall got some fantastic bits of snark in this one. I also love her Quidditch rivalry with Snape. It's hilarious to me that these two very dignified teachers get really caught up in Quidditch.
 
M: I do think Ron and Harry's treatment of Hermione is meant to be a big deal. Hagrid even talks to them about it, and frankly I love that Hermione goes to Hagrid with her troubles. He really is the most maternal character. 
 
I'll end out thoughts on Azkaban here with something we haven't spoken about at all - the films. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is in my opinion the best film in the series even if it isn't one of my favorite books, and as Victoria has pointed out on Tumblr it is the film in which Harry looks the most like...well, Harry! That reminds me, are you keeping up with us oTwitterTumblr, and Facebook?
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Cover Image
By J. K. Rowling, Mary GrandPre (Illustrator)
$10.99
ISBN: 9780439136365
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic - September 11th, 2001

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.