Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
J. K. Rowling
This was the first hardback HP book that my brother and I had, because it was the first one we bought when it was first released. By this point we were both big HP fans, but because they were his books I had to wait for him to finish Goblet of Fire before I could read it. I always liked this one a lot, although I never much liked the initial Quidditch World Cup section, and was always eager to get past that part and back to Hogwarts. For some reason, I have never been wild about the Mad-Eye Moody storyline, either (although I do like him as a character).
Re-reading GoF, I was reminded both of the things that make it one of my favourite HP books, and all those other niggly things that really irritate me about it at the same time. The Quidditch World Cup part was actually shorter than I remembered, and I didn't mind it so much this time. I am still not a fan of the SPEW subplot - I don't think Hermione comes off particularly well, and it wasn't much fun to read about. I think when I first read it, I was just annoyed at Hermione, but these days I am more annoyed that she comes across as a bit shrill and aggravating because she believes in a particular cause. Then again, she has plenty of excellent moments - including putting Ron in his place when he invites her to the dance as an afterthought, and finally getting her own back on Rita Skeeter.
I think the tension between Harry and Ron is done really well in this book - when Ron turns his back on Harry and goes to sit with Dean and Seamus instead, it managed to sum up all those school-age feelings of falling out with your friends and feeling totally despondent about it. It felt very realistic, and I like that some of those underlying feelings of jealousy and inadequacy were addressed, building on Ron's horror at his hideous second-hand dress robes. That's not to say I didn't want to bash Ron and Harry's heads together at times for being so idiotic and not just talking to each other (although given that they are 14 year old boys here, it's perhaps more believable that that didn't happen).
The Triwizard Tournament task chapters are actually a lot shorter than I remembered, too - but seriously, Harry. Put the egg in the bath already.
Pick a quote:
"Longbottom, kindly do not reveal that you can't even perform a simple Switching Spell in front of anyone from Durmstrang!" Professor McGonagall barked at the end of one particularly difficult lesson, during which Neville had accidentally transplanted his own ears onto a cactus.