Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is where these books start to get really good. It’s darker, it’s more interesting, and we’re starting to leave behind the simple mystery plots and enter into the more complicated ones.
One reason I really like this book is the introduction of Sirius. I really love Sirius as a character. To Harry, he is both a good friend and a role model. Like Harry, Sirius is a rebellious Gryffindor with a love for danger and adventure. I love how Harry can relate to Sirius because he sees himself in Sirius.
I also really like Lupin as a character. I like his calm intelligence and his willingness to take Harry under his wing. He is, of course, discriminated against for being a werewolf, which is a great, subtle way for Rowling to introduce the concept of discrimination in the wizard world. Wizards, as we see time and again in the books, are very discriminatory and quick to condemn. Even though it may be detrimental to their children’s educations, the wizard world will not allow a werewolf to teach at Hogwarts.
On the subject of Sirius, this book is where we really see the emphasis Harry puts on his father figures. While sweet, this trope is a bit misogynistic. Throughout the course of the book, Harry strongly prioritizes his male role models. He has several father figures, while the only mother figure I can think of is Molly Weasley. This is probably subconscious on Rowling’s part, since it’s common in our society to prioritize male role models.
Some very dark concepts are played with in this book. The idea of Azkaban is, obviously, terrifying. The dementors, who can suck out all happy feelings and memories, are fantastic antagonists. The fact that Sirius is innocent makes the time he spent there seem even worse. I felt terrible for Sirius for the entire book.
As I reread the series, I am finding that I like Ron a lot less. In this book, especially, he’s horrible to Hermione. Hermione, being very bookish, has probably not had very many friends besides Ron and Harry. Added to that, she’s under a lot of stress from her extra classes. Ron really had no right to turn on her.
Overall, the book was great. On to Goblet of Fire!