When Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts comes around, the Tri-Wizard Tournament – where students from various wizarding schools will compete in three tasks to win the ultimate prize – is held at his school for everyone to enjoy. Despite the fact that his young age prohibits him from entering the tournament, however, Harry is mysteriously entered into the contest, with tradition and rules dictating that he must compete in the deadly tasks before him.
Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy… Goblet of Fire. You could say I was a tad nervous when I started this book; it’s no secret that I hated the Goblet of Fire movie. I really can’t think of anything good about it because it’s such a badly done mess. The special effects are decent… yay? Because that’s difficult to accomplish nowadays. *sighs* Anyway, since so far my feelings on the Harry Potter books seem to be what I felt about their movie counterparts squared, I was pretty confident I would hate the Goblet of Fire novel just as much as the film.
Literally just a couple of pages into this book, though, I knew I was dead wrong.
Goblet of Fire starts out in a gloomy, dark setting showing years prior to the main story how the Riddles were killed and what happened in their small village in the aftermath of their mysterious deaths. We see a lot of their gardener, Frank Bryce, who was blamed for their deaths since, well… you know… I think if someone tried to tell these village people (Y-M-C-A!) that the Riddles had been murdered by a dark wizard, that person would swiftly be sent to the local loony bin.
This whole plot starts one of many stories – MANY MANY stories – that are unfortunately left behind in the movie. RIP good storytelling; you will be remembered fondly. *wipes a sad tear away* I literally can’t express with words how much better this is than the film; it almost makes me pissed because it gets me thinking about how epic the movie could’ve been. While most of the other novels so far haven’t answered anymore questions about certain plotlines than their film counterparts, this wasn’t the case with Goblet of Fire; stories were fleshed out so much more in the book that no plot hole comes to mind immediately. I’m sure if I sat down and really thought about it I could find some minor story details to pick apart, but where’s the fun in that? Even if complaining is one of my favorite hobbies. But I digress.
This is also the first novel in the Harry Potter series that’s really felt like an adult book. Prisoner of Azkaban was notable for its large step toward pleasing an older audience, yes, but a lot of the content in GoF made it feel distinctly adult rather than simply being a children’s book that could be really enjoyable to older people too. There’s death (death of characters – or, well, one – we actually care halfway about, too! GASP!), romance (a touch, at least; nothing too overbearing luckily) and an overall more desperate, urgent feeling to things. Voldemort and his followers – the dreaded KKK Death Eaters! – are no longer some crappy antagonists that can be defeated by Harry with ease; they’re real threats that are, as of Goblet of Fire, now doing real damage and are officially back (no more hanging on the back of wizards’ heads for Voldemort!). GoF doesn’t have quite as happy an ending as the other novels before it did.
Story wise, Goblet of Fire absolutely thrives; whereas with the film things didn’t seem important at all, it’s the exact opposite with the book. Every HP novel up until this one almost seems like a prologue to GoF, where we finally get into the true meat of the overarching story. The Tri-Wizard Tournament, while certainly a bit random and a little too convenient for the plot’s sake (of all the places it could have been held, Hogwarts was picked? Yay for easy story lines.) was a very different setting from anything we’ve had in the previous novels, presenting scenarios you can actually feel the challenge of. The story as a whole adds up to be one big game changer for the series.
The characters are one of the few things that the film and book have in common as far as portrayals – which, of course, brings me to my first big complaint about GoF. In fact, aside from Ron (whose whiny bitchiness in the movie still makes me twitch with rage to this day) I actually prefer a lot of the movie portrayals to the novel portrayals of characters. Seriously (SIRIUSLY! And now that we’re past Prisoner of Azkaban, I can make that joke. Excellent), was J.K. Rowling in a bad mood when she wrote this? The characters were constantly bickering with one another and being overall jerks. Harry, Ron, Hermione… Stop bitching. Please. You’re making me want to jump off a cliff. Amazingly enough (if you consider the movie, too) Harry was actually the worst out of the bunch; Ron, even if he still was pretty bad, at least wasn’t unbearable to the extreme we see in the movie. Harry wasn’t quite to this point either, but he was still consistently pretty annoying, especially with examples like him being given a perfectly good hint for a problem in the Tri-Wizard Tournament he was stuck on, and NOT taking it because Cedric Diggory had given it to him – and Cedric had Cho Chang, the love of Harry’s life (if his thoughts about her were any indication – *eye roll*) as a girlfriend. Whatever, Harry. Go be a dumbass, your loss.
The new characters introduced were pretty decent, if a bit generic in some cases, such as Barty Crouch (generic grumpy guy) and Ludo Bagman (generic way-too-happy-go-lucky-guy who no one likes). Fleur Delacour and Victor Krum were probably the most likable characters out of the new bunch, really making me wish that at some point we could see a bit of the different schools they came from instead of just Hogwarts most of the time. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, as J.K. Rowling couldn’t think of stories cool enough to bring us there during the entire course of the series. Sigh.
Goblet of Fire is also the only novel so far that’s made me really want to pick up the next book soon, with its dramatic cliffhanger of an ending. This is impressive for me personally because, due to the fact that I’m marathon speed reading through the whole series for reviewing purposes I’m a little burned out on them; it’s not because I’m not enjoying them all thoroughly – which I absolutely am – but simply because I’ve been reading them without end for quite awhile now. Despite that, however, GoF was still able to elicit the feeling of wanting more from me like no other novel so far has – even PoA.
All in all, Goblet of Fire is good enough that it makes me want to cry about just how terrible the film adaptation was; its almost black and white in terms of the quality of the two. The story of the novel is presented in a much better fashion, with fewer plot holes to be found, there’s a solid amount of action, and the writing is simply superb. It certainly rivals Prisoner of Azkaban, but it doesn’t quite beat it if only because the characterization in this novel is a bit off, with the three main characters almost constantly bitching at each other. In light of how good everything else about the book is, however, that’s easily forgivable.
- Potter-thon: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (mibreviews.com)