Do I really need to say this? Spoilers, people! SPOILERS.
I took an informal poll via Facebook and asked my fellow Potterheads what their favorite and least favorite books are and why. Turns out, everyone says something along the lines of, "I love Deathly Hallows, but my other favorite is..." Also, it turns out that almost everyone's favorites are PoA and GoF. It's interesting to me that the reasons for the favorites are mostly the same: that either PoA or GoF are the first in the series to delve into the deeper topics and feel less like a "children's book." While I personally think it starts with PoA (as I stated in my last entry), I wholeheartedly agree that GoF is definitely more adult than any that came before it. And it starts right from page one.
There are about a million things to love about this book, but I'll start with my first favorite thing: the Weasleys. We get to see all 9 Weasleys together for the first time, and I love the family dynamic. Everything about it is so true to life, how a big family operates. They each have their place, and they are glad to have it. I especially like the little things that Jo writes to show their personalities, like how into Quidditch Charlie is (since it's already been established that he was a top-notch player at Hogwarts) or how Ginny clearly worships her biggest brother Bill. Everyone should have friends like the Weasleys.
I also adore all of the new characters introduced (or reintroduced). Krum, Fleur, Cho Chang, Cedric Diggory, even the Patil twins. Each one of them brings a new side to the story, and I think it's a real testament to how creative Jo is that she can write all of these fully developed, awesome characters. They stand out in a crowd when they could so easily be one-sided and boring. Take our Golden Boy Cedric Diggory. He could be written as a one trick character so easily, and it wouldn't have made much of a difference. By showing how honest and caring he is while also showing his fighting side (as a Hogwarts Champion), it proves that he's not just your usual Hufflepuff (though I hear they are particularly good finders!).
Which makes it all that more sad and terrifying when he dies, quickly, needlessly, unceremoniously. It is a big, bright, blinking turning point in the series, right before the biggest, brightest, blinkingest turning point: the return of Lord Voldemort. Holy crap, that's some intense stuff. Between Voldemort getting his body back, to the duel in the graveyard, to the brief and ghostly reappearance of Cedric and the Potters. Yowza. My personal story: I was reading this book for the first time at my friend's sister's house in Radford one balmy summer evening. It was about 3 am and I was totally exhausted, but I couldn't stop reading because I was so into this and so terrified for Harry. I had to read until he got back to Hogwarts before I could finally go to sleep. As soon as I closed this book, I knew dark times were coming. Very dark times. And I couldn't wait.
FAVORITE MOMENT:"Mrs. Weasley... put her arms around Harry."
Between the Tri-Wizard Tournament tasks, the Quidditch World Cup, and the Duel in the Graveyard, it was damn near impossible for me to pick one moment that was my favorite in this book. However, I keep coming back to Mrs. Weasley and Harry in the hospital wing. It breaks my heart to think that he is fourteen years old before he knows what the love of a mother feels like. Poor sweet Harry Potter... Ugh, those Dursleys, man.
FAVORITE CHAPTER: The Yule Ball
So. Many. Great. Moments. Mostly, though, it's all about Ron and Hermione and how they are just so freaking blind. I always feel so bad for Hermione, because she's always the girl with the two dumb boys. Sure, she has Ginny as a girl to talk to (and this is the first book to consistently refer to the fact that Hermione and Ginny hang out), but she considers Harry to be her best friend... and his best friend is Ron. And Ron's best friend? Harry. So she's just looking to have that one normal high school moment, just like another kick-ass dame. AND, like Buffy, she got her brief happy moment, only for it to be ruined by... a big ginger idiot. RON. YOU LOVE HER. FIGURE IT OUT. Also, extra love for Fred & Angelina's dancing. And Herm-own-ninny.
And now, the angsty greatness of Order of the Phoenix!