I'm frustrated with myself because I know a lot of things occurred to me as I re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but then I forgot them. I'll try to take notes when I read the final three books.
This has always been my favorite book of the series. It never fails to impress me how from the time Harry enters the maze at the final of the Triwizard Cup until Dumbledore finishes interrogating Barty Crouch, jr., it's edge-of-your-seat, can't-put-it-down reading. It doesn't let up. It's awesome.
It doesn't hurt that this is the book where we finally start getting some Ron-Hermione tension of the romantic variety. I love Ron + Hermione.
1. Fake Moody's plan is so needlessly elaborate. He gained Harry's trust pretty early on and, since Dumbledore wasn't suspicious of him, could have just lured Harry away from Hogwarts and disapparated with him or whatever. Heck, he could have gotten Harry onto a bus to Little Hangleton with some vague promise of investigation or adventure or whatever. Harry's easy.
2. Neal wanted me to point out that this is the book where Hermione's character starts to get morally comprised. Um, Hermione, sweetie? It's not OK to imprison a human woman (disguised as a beetle or not) in a little glass jar for a week or two because she annoyed you or whatever. There's also the blackmail aspect to be concerned about, but the imprisonment thing is worrisome enough.
3. Harry and the other champions have to compete in three events, each of which probably take less than two hours. So they get out of final exams and the entire Quidditch season gets cancelled because . . . ? I mean, other than getting J. K. out of writing Quidditch matches, of course.
4. While I'm on the subject of Quidditch, I might as well address the subject of Quidditch. It's one of the real weaknesses of the entire series. Rowling admitted in interviews that she doesn't really know much about sports and that the matches were chores for her to write. The former point is not surprising--Quidditch is a pretty terrible sport.
People on flying broomsticks throwing balls through very high hoops? That's great. That's a great sport for wizards to play. Adding a second kind of ball that zooms around trying to knock players off their brooms? Also great! It's funny, very much in keeping with the little absurdities of Rowling's wizarding universe. But the snitch, you guys. The snitch.
The fact that catching the snitch both ends the game and earns the catching team 150 points (when each goal is only worth 10) pretty much ruins the whole thing. Yes, in Goblet of Fire, we see a team lose despite getting the snitch. I know. That is, however, the only time we see that happen, and you would think it would indeed be pretty rare. It's just too much.
The snitch is, of course, a device that allows Harry to be an indisputable, individual hero even in a team game. Quidditch works great as a plot device, but as a sport, it's awful.
Also, if it's such a big deal, why does Hogwarts only hold six games a year (when the tournament isn't canceled, of course)? And if there are only four teams at what seems to be the only wizarding school in the British Isles, how can the British Isles also support at least one professional Quidditch league? Wouldn't it be easier to make it onto a professional squad than a Hogwarts house team?
Those problems all pale beside the snitch, though.
5. Back to the Triwizard Tournament--it sounds like a really terrible spectator event. The dragon-fighting contest would be pretty cool to watch, obviously, but the others? In the second task, the crowd had to just sit there for over an hour waiting for the champions to emerge from the lake. In defense of Muggles--we would have set up some dang underwater video cameras so we didn't have to rely on Merperson testimony to find out what happened down there. The third task would have been pretty cool to watch if the crowd were high enough to see everything that happened in the maze, but they weren't. Again, J. K. Rowling: not great with the sports.
6. Honest question: how are supposed to feel about house elves? Hermione makes what seem to be extremely good points about how they're slave labor since, after all, they're slave labor. However, her crusade is played for laughs, and none of the other characters agree with her. Ron and his brothers are from a pretty relaxed and groovy wizard family, but they see no problem with how house elves are treated. All the house elves we meet besides Dobby are A-OK with doing unpaid, unquestioning labor, and even Dobby would rather be paid a pittance than a fair wage. Dumbledore, for agreeing to pay Dobby, seems the closest to Hermione's point of view. Even then, it seems like he's being indulgent, not any kind of activist.
Maybe it's just as well that I didn't take notes, since this was plenty long as is.
It'll be just a bit until I start Order of the Pheonix, I think, because I'm halfway through the Twilight "saga." Speaking of, should I share my thoughts on that? I'd kind of like to, but there are already lots of places on the internet where you can read criticism of Twilight.
5 hours ago