My Totally Subjective Ranking of the Harry Potter Books, From Worst to Best
There's no way to fully capture the importance of Harry Potter.
No fantasy series ever has (or ever will, I assume) touch such a large amount of people in such a significant way.
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone via Warner Bros.)
That said, I have a rather shocking admission: I didn't read the Harry Potter books until very late in my life. As in, I only delved into this magical series about three years ago. While I quickly became obsessed with the storyline, I also developed some pretty strong opinions on the books themselves. While they're all incredibly intricate and crucial to the overall story, we have to be honest with ourselves—some are just plain better than others.
Knowing that everyone has some pretty strong opinions on Harry Potter, I'm 100% positive that basically everyone is going to disagree with me, but it's time to speak my truth.
Keep scrolling for my totally subjective ranking of the Harry Potter books, from worst to best.
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Unfortunately, Chamber of Secrets just isn't that interesting in comparison to the rest of the Harry Potter books. It very closely mimics the pace and overall setup of the first novel, but it doesn't have the added benefit of introducing a new and exciting world, which is what makes the straightforward nature of the first book so appealing.
The reveal that the journal was the real "villain" in this novel wasn't that exciting, especially when you didn't know how it played into the later books. On top of that, it made me hate Ginny a little—an unfortunate feeling that I don't think I ever fully recovered from. Lastly, as one of the earlier novels in the series, this book has an undeniably childish tone. The writing is a bit simplistic and straightforward, so it just doesn't have the same appeal as some of the later books that are more intricately written. It's not a bad novel by any means, but it's definitely my least favorite in the series.
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Sorcerer's Stone is a bit complicated for me. I primarily enjoy the book because it does a fantastic job of setting up the wizarding world. It introduces all the main characters and establishes their personality and function with Harry's world. It also explains the key components that carry into the next six novels, including Quidditch, the invisibility cloak, Diagon Alley and the backstory of both Harry and Voldemort.
However, the novel does read as a bit clunky and juvenile. Beyond Chamber of Secrets, it's the book that feels most like a children's novel, which sometimes cheapens the magic and intricacy of the wizarding world. Basically, it's an essential book and one that I'm appreciative of, but it's not the most entertaining read in the series.
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
In terms of wrapping up the series, Deathly Hallows does everything it's supposed to do. The problem is, it just drags and drags before things feel like they're actually getting interesting. While I enjoy the focus on Dumbledore, the paradox of his character, the dragging scenes in the forest, Ron's sudden temper tantrum, and the inclusion of storylines that hadn't been mentioned previously in the series was frustrating. It was an adequate ending, but a series like this demanded a final book that was more than just adequate.
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Interesting and exciting as this novel is, I can't help but find it a little frustrating. Given Voldemort's return to power, it's irritating that so much time is spent on the minute details of the character's lives, such as their romances or Ron's position on the Quidditch team. On the other hand, there's the argument that the characters need to keep living, as they're not entirely sure what Voldemort is up to. There are also some of the most intense and important moments of the series included in this book, including Harry learning about Horcruxes and (obviously) Dumbledore's death. In truth, I can't ever decide how I feel about this novel, which is probably why it sits so firmly in the middle of my list.
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I have very strong feelings about the Order of the Phoenix, primarily because of the hateful Dolores Umbridge. Never in my life have I had such a strong negative reaction to a character, which speaks very highly of J.K. Rowling's masterful character development. I was basically angry for the entirety of this novel, as it was deeply frustrating to know that Voldemort was back and to share in Harry's frustration that no one was taking him seriously.
Although Harry himself can be a little frustrating throughout this novel, I thoroughly enjoy the shift in storyline in which Harry and his friends have to start taking more serious action, rather than slyly getting themselves into trouble and talking their way out of it. All in all, it's a deeply enjoyable book that elicits a strong negative reaction. I simultaneously love and hate it, which is one of my ultimate markers of a thrilling story.
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Controversial as it may be, I firmly believe that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is one of the best books in the entire series. It opens up an entirely new storyline and allows the wizards a chance to practice their skills and present new spells that expand our understanding of the entire wizarding world.
While the end is heartbreaking, it's also unexpected and impactful, giving us a jumping off point for He Who Shall Not Be Named's return. In addition, my competitive side loves the rivalry of the tournament, even if Harry does very little on his own. It's a book that I couldn't quite figure out, with enough twists and turns to keep me interested all the way through, which is all I really need from a Harry Potter book.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In my opinion, the Prisoner of Azkaban is the first book where we really get to see the artistry of J.K. Rowling's writing, which lends a lot of credit to her beautifully developed storylines. This book divulges from the juvenile writing of the first two novels and instead weaves an interesting and complex storyline that makes this novel a joy to read at any age. Instead of one large reveal at the end, this book contains a variety of mysteries that are masterfully interwoven, coming together at the end to provide a solution to various problems in the novel.
In addition, this novel starts to expand beyond the world of Hogwarts, giving us a glimpse into the larger wizarding world and the politics that exist within it. It takes Rowling's story to new heights and ultimate creates a novel that's interesting and exciting the whole way through, easily making this book one of my favorites.
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