Short Story Long did a 30 Day Harry Potter Challenge in August, and I couldn’t resist indulging my inner fangirl and doing it myself.
Day 1: Your favorite book?
If I had to read a book out of context, I would choose Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban every time. It’s a great mystery novel on its own, but it also gives us fascinating details about Harry’s parents. The Marauders have a special place in my heart, and our first glimpses of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs absolutely enthralled me. In Azkaban we have the introduction to Hogsmeade, the Shrieking Shack, dementors, Lupin, and Sirius! So many iconic people and places in the midst of a really awesome mystery that is not only interesting, but is personally relevant to our main character (and therefore, to us).
Runners up are Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Voldemort’s backstory! Dumbledore and Harry’s relationship as they *sob* journey to find the locket) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (it’s the end of everything – all the emotions!)
Day 2: Your favorite movie?
Oddly enough, my least favorite book is my favorite movie. During the first four movies, I was so focused on what details they had forgotten or which characters looked wrong that I didn’t fully enjoy myself. Perhaps because my expectations were low, or I cared less about the story, I found myself really liking Order of the Phoenix! It felt most like a movie in its own right, rather than a book-to-movie adaptation. Plus, they skipped over most of Harry’s whiny stage and did a great job with the final confrontation in the Department of Mysteries.
Runner up goes to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, because I absolutely loved the devolution of Draco from arrogance to desperation. He’s my favorite spoiled brat, and I was so glad that they gave his story the attention I feel it deserves.
Day 3: Is there anything in the film adaptations that annoyed you?
Oh sure. I’m the same age as the actors who play Harry, Hermione, and Ron. I remember sitting in the theater to see the first movie and arrogantly thinking, “I could do so much better than them!”
I hated that Prisoners of Azkaban didn’t show as much of the Marauders as I wanted. If I’m remembering correctly, nowhere in the film do we actually learn that they are the ones who created the Marauder’s Map. Plus, what is with the casting of Snape, Lupin, and Sirius? They’re played by men in their 50s, when the characters ought to be in their 30s. Maybe this is a small squabble (and undoubtedly Alan Rickman did a great job), but the tragedy of their characters is that they are so young and have been through so much. A Snape who is 31 and as bitter as an old man is far more interesting than…an old man who is bitter. Maybe they’ll get this right the next time Harry Potter is adapted into a film.
In general, my complaints are typical unattainable nerd wishes: I wanted six hour movies that exactly replicated my personal vision of Hogwarts and its characters.
Day 4: Least favorite female character and why?
Umbridge seems like too easy of an answer. I’ll give my unpopular opinion: I don’t really like Ginny Weasley. I liked her as a shy pre-teen, idolizing Harry and sending him awkward Valentines messages. But in book 5, she abruptly becomes Super Cool, and the transformation felt forced. And okay, maybe I can get on board with Cool Ginny, but then…she just becomes a trophy. Harry clearly has no problem with women fighting alongside him (he knows Hermione is the reason he’s survived this long), so why does he push Ginny aside and take the Traditional Hero stance of leaving her behind? Ridiculous.
Ginny had so much potential. What I want from her is this: her mousy shyness transforms slowly into empowerment, and we get to see her trying out her new identity more. After she and Harry start dating, she says “Uh, no,” to his plan to leave her behind in Hogwarts while he saves the world. She joins the Golden Trio and puts her skills to use. She is Harry’s equal, and not just his shadow and/or prize.
Day 5: Favorite male character and why?
(This is my Sirius Black, since he ought to be only 33 in Prisoner of Azkaban.)
Sirius Black. He is so cool. The end.
No, not really the end! I have so much more to say. It might be obvious from my mentioning them three times now, but I love the Marauders. Theirs is one of the most tragic stories I’ve read, and all that while relegated to a subplot (made plot in the phenomenal The Shoebox Project). Sirius is a spoiled brat who is cut off from his rich family. He joins up with three other weirdos, too smart for their own good (figuring out how to become an Animagus and creating a complicated map while in school!) and extremely loyal to each other. Until they aren’t. Sirius is blamed for a crime he didn’t commit and had to live in prison for thirteen years, mourning the death of one friend, the distrust of another, and the betrayal of a third. That is some Shakespearean tragedy right there! And of course, then he escapes, and is reunited with Remus and James’s son, and everything is perfect! Except that he hates being cooped up in Grimmauld Place, but he does it anyway, until Harry impetuously enters the Department of Mysteries and Sirius goes to save him, happy to be useful in battle once more…only to die defending the son of his deceased best friend.
Excuse me while I sob into my hands.
I also love Harry, Dumbledore, Draco, and Lupin. Everyone is amazing and complicated and tragic while maintaining a sense of humor.
Come back tomorrow for more Harry Potter questions!