What I Read:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
734 pages / Fantasy / 4 out of 5 stars
How it Starts: Before returning from Hogwarts, Harry attends the Quidditch world cup with the Weasley family. After a rousing Quidditch match, a group of ne’erdowell wizards terrorize the camp surrounding the arena. Then, mysteriously, somebody conjures the Dark Mark the air, meaning that someone has been killed by one of Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Amidst these troubling circumstances, Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts to learn that the school with by hosting an international Triwizard Tournament. Unfortunately for them, only wizards 17 or older can compete. However . . .
How it Gets Complicated: Harry discovers that, without even entering, his name has been pulled from the Goblet of Fire, meaning that he has no choice but to compete in the tournament. And all the while he keeps having realistic dreams about the Dark Lord’s plans to return to power. Are these events connected? What does it all mean? And how are a bunch of wizarding pimple-poppers supposed to get through it all?
What I Liked: I like all the Harry Potter books. The fact that JK Rowling can have kids flicking wands and riding brooms and make it at all believable is an incredible feat. Getting us to care about those kids is another thing in itself. This book does a better job at setting up a mystery than some of the other books do. I especially enjoyed how well this book does at portraying the awkward teenage side of the characters.
What I disliked: That being said, this is my least favorite of all the Harry Potter books. It seems unnecessarily long to me. The S.P.E.W. stuff is funny, and it gives us some insight into Hermione’s character, but it seems to take up a lot of space and doesn’t really move the plot along for how much time it takes up. It was also tough to keep my daughters engaged as I was reading these passages to them. There was a lot more in this book that just seemed slow without any kind of intellectual or thematic payoff.
Recommendation: I’m not a big fantasy reader, but I imagine most YA fantasy fans would love this book. I think Rowling does a good enough job of portraying realistic teenagers to give this book a broader appeal as well. You don’t have to be a fantasy fan to enjoy it.