Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The first time I read it, it became my favorite of the series, and remained my favorite even after reading the rest of the series. However, after re-reading it, I've recognized several severe plot holes and a lot of other problems, now making it one of my least favorite books.
I own a first edition US hardcover and have read it. I've also listened to the Stephen Fry audio book recording.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- Professor Lupin is a fun and likable caring teacher, and Sirius Black is a ominous villain.
- Hogwarts is still very exciting and wonderful.
- The Marauder's Map is a really cool idea, but it creates several serious problems with the story.
- Snape has entered into the realm of cartoonish villain. While I understand that teachers are often unfair, Snape's favoritism to his own house and obvious hatred of all Gryffindors is never challenged by Dumbledore. And even after it's demonstrated that he gleefully tried to murder people multiple times, he is kept as a teacher.
- Draco is able to pretend that his arm is sore for weeks despite having no discernible symptoms, and all the staff go along with it, even to the point of rescheduling events around it, something that isn't done for any of the other houses. Again, Hogwarts is seriously mismanaged.
- I can understand how bogarts can take the shape of dementors, but how do they gain their powers?
- Fred and George say they've memorized the Marauder's Map, which is why they gift it to Harry, but, while they can memorize the layout of Hogwarts, the real-time updates of where everyone is located would still be a benefit too priceless to give up.
- For as important as Quidditch is to the wizarding world, they don't play it very often. Each house only faces each other house once for the entire school year, resulting in a maximum of six games, only three games per house. Worse yet, two consecutive losses of any team, automatically forfeits the third game.
- Quidditch is even less realistic in this book. The Firebolt continues to show that ability means little, the game is all about who can afford the most expensive broom, and the blatant cheating done by Slytherin isn't properly punished. Grabbing the broom of a seeker results in a penalty shot for an attempt at ten points, but it prevents the team from getting 150 points, so it doesn't make sense not to do it! Same with the hitting chasers with bats.
- While drawing out the final encounter with Sirius Black is made more dramatic by neither Black or Lupin being forthright, it doesn't make sense. They both risk the kids killing them by not explaining themselves sooner.
- The final confrontation takes forever!
- Black's escape doesn't fit with the story. If animagius are able to slip past the dementors, why aren't all prisoners screened before entering? And if animagius are so rare, (only 7 in the past century), how could three fifth-year students, one particularly weak, pull off the spell without any help from professionals?
- Why would the Ministry of Magic just be okay with Buckbeak escaping and not blame Hagrid for failing to tie him up securely?
- The patronus spell is repeatedly described as being very difficult, and increases in difficulty with the number of present dementors. So, how then is Harry, a mere third-year with no education prior to Hogwarts or ability to practice at home over the summer, able to create a very powerful patronus when a hundred dementors are present?
- The Marauder's Map pretty much ruins the entire Harry Potter world. Four students could create a powerful magical device that allows them to track the location of every single person in the school in real time, even in areas specifically designed to prevent spells from working? If this is the case, why doesn't the Ministry of Magic simply create a similar map to catch Black and every other criminal in existence? Why didn't the twins see Sirius Black on the map? Why didn't they see their sister in the Chamber of Secrets? Why didn't they see Ron sleeping with another man every night? Why didn't they see Voldemort on top of Professor Quirrel?
- The Time Turner also pretty much ruins the entire world. The wizards have the ability to rewind time at will? Why didn't they rewind to before Black escaped? Or before Harry Potter's parents were killed? Or before Tom Riddle turned evil? If it's because they take the time line too seriously to even stop mass-murderers, then why are they giving the ability to a 13-year-old?
- Keeping a charlatan like Sybill Trelawney on staff where she can lie to children unimpeded and convince the next generation to lie as well, just because she made a single accurate prediction is a horrible practice for Dumbledore.
- It seems the only prison in the wizarding world is Azkaban, a place where all of the prisoners are constantly tortured to the point where they want to commit suicide. They even send minor offenders there. This does not reflect well on their society.
- dorkly.com/post/74029/why-the-marauders-map-is-useless - Comic that addresses the Marauder's Map plot hole.