Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Once again, it feels awkward ro review a book so many people have read and so many people have loved.
Several people had warned me that GoF was a darker book, and they were right, although the darkness was very contained in the last several chapters.
Harry muddles through much of the book, confused and unsure and a little afraid, yet sure to trust a small few - including Ron and Hermione.
This is the first of the series that doesn't end squarely with everything hashed out and threads tied up. We don't know for certain what several characters are off to for the summer. We don't know what is to come in the next book.
A big theme that begins here is Hermione's defense of the House Elves - at least, I assume it will remain in the forefront going forward. The looking out for the 'least of these' is good. The way many of the magical beings and the muggles and muggle-born are treated badly by the wicked characters (see the treatment of the muggle camp owner at the World Cup and the way Hermione is often treated by others) is uncomfortable to the reader - even Ron's defense that the House Elves like it ([shudder]). The enslavement of the House Elves should be an interesting discussion going forward. I'm pleased with Sirius' statement:
If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.
and Dumbledore, of course,
You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!
Rowling is a touch heavy handed on the theme - a fault of the YA readership I expect - , despite the fact that there's no resolution for Hermione's S.P.E.W. movement, and I expect to see more of it going forward.
Overall, I think this was the most engaging of the books so far, I had a hard time stopping to read or do other things. We read Book 1 & 2 aloud, listened to Book 3, and read Book 4 independently.
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I do want to say that "equals" and "inferiors" are terms that are fraught with emotion and discriminatory intent in and of themselves. This isn't to say that there aren't authority structures - but those structures ought to be freely made associations.