We, as millennials, have the unique distinction of being the generation that grew up with the Harry Potter series. Many of us, myself included, were big fans of these books as the series unfolded, and continue to be fans today. While all the Harry Potter books have a charm to them, some of the books in the series are better than others. Lucky for the Harry Potter series, even the “bad" books are pretty darn good. Here's my official ranking of how the books of the series stack up, starting with the worst and ending with the best. Warning: there are some spoilers ahead!
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This book is just frustrating. Literally, some parts made me want to just skip entire chapters. In this particular book, 15-year-old Harry spends the majority of his time brooding with teenaged angst about why people aren't paying more attention to him, why he can't get Cho to like him, blah, blah, blah. For the same reason most of us do not particularly enjoy reading a tenth grader's Twitter posts, this book is not one of the best at all.
Basically, the unifying theme of all whopping 870 pages of this novel is “why Harry is so mad for no reason at all." Also, this entire book features Umbridge who, face it, is actually worse than Voldemort. Some people defend this book saying that fan-favorite, Sirius Black, gets the most attention in this book out of any others. Ok, cool justification considering he gets killed off in the end in a strange way that has never been explained. That veil was just too conveniently placed, wasn't it, J.K. Rowling? The best part of this book is the end, when people finally believe that Voldemort is back after almost 900 pages of annoying denial.
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This book, like the Order of the Phoenix, is long. Almost too long. Like, we get it. Someone in the school put Harry's name in the cup and we don't know who it was. I'm sure we'll find out later. Also, the Triwizard Tournament. What is this thing? Why is something this dangerous, not to mention completely distracting and disruptive, allowed to occur at a school that is supposed to be teaching 11 to 17 year old kids? Aside from it not making any sense, the Triwizard Tournament basically acts as the world's largest McGuffin basically ever. You mean to tell me that in a magical world, Barty Crouch Jr. would have had to go through all of those extremely extensive steps just to get Harry to touch the Triwizard Cup at the end? Yeah, okay. Seems to me like a certain British billionaire author needed to fill about 600 pages. This book does have a very important redeeming value though: Voldemort's return. Obviously that is a pivotal moment in the series and, in my opinion, some of the best chapters within the entire series. The Goblet of Fire is very easily the turning point of the series, where the books go from being children's books to being catered to a more mature, young adult audience—giving the book series its unique quality of aging with both the characters and the reader.
5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Admittedly, this was my favorite book in the series when I was younger. It's charming, it goes a littler deeper than the first book, and it has some cool scenes with the Basilisk and Aragog. However, as I got older, I realized that this book isn't as flawless as I originally thought it was. I still like all the stuff about the book that I just mentioned, but some of the finer points seem to be strange. First of all, the whole diary thing is still a little unclear. I don't think it was properly explained. Also, does anyone else think it's a little disappointing that after all the build up, the main villain turns out to be a book? Literally a book is causing all this trouble. Ok, I get the whole, “but later it turned out to be a Horcrux!" argument, but at this time we had no clue what horcruxes were and it seems to me that J.K. Rowling conveniently threw that in there later in order to make that stupid book actually mean something. One thing that I continue to find unique about Chamber of Secrets is that in this book, we are introduced to the ideas behind “blood purity" which proves to be very important throughout the rest of the series. Oh, and of course Dobby is introduced.
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I really do like this book. My main problem with it is that its ending is so frustrating. This book is great because it introduces us to the wider wizarding world aside from Hogwarts, giving some back story and insight into the extensive network of followers that aided Voldemort's evil. I really like Lupin and Sirius, and these two are introduced in this book. However, that ending is just. So. Frustrating. Here we are, thinking everything will be great from now on. Harry can live with his godfather, Peter Pettigrew will finally be brought to justice, the Hogwarts students will finally get to keep a competent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, etc. Well if it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. All because of one stupid moment, every single one of these great plans is shattered, and Sirius barely escapes with his life. Ugh, talk about extreme irritation.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
How can you not love this book? This is the one that started it all and brought us into the Potter universe that we would come to know and love so well. While this book is clearly a children's book far more than the others, it is still just as good. When you reread this book as an adult, there's also some humor and word pun that is extremely entertaining. I think the reason that I like this book so much is because it takes me back to the feeling of being young and carefree again. Let's face it: in this book, Harry didn't have nearly as great of challenges as what he encounters later in the series. It's a nice mixture of scary adventure and reassurance that characters aren't going to be dropping dead left and right. My only criticism: why would Dumbledore, the greatest wizard in the world, be so careless about guarding the Sorcerer's Stone? I digress because this book is an absolute delight.
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
This book is superb. While some people criticize it for just being a giant setup for the last book, I think that it's just as vital, if not more important, than its successor. In Half Blood-Prince we begin to learn a lot more about Lord Voldemort, understand why he became the world's most evil wizard, and ultimately, see him more as a dynamic character than just some freaky half-snake super villain. The introduction of the horcruxes makes it really seem real that Harry can defeat Voldemort. Another great thing about the Half Blood-Prince is the attention that Snape gets. This really sets everything up for the revelation that he was the world's best spy. The worst part about this book: Dumbledore's death, obviously. I distinctly remember crying about this and pretending that it didn't happen and that I dreamt it. Judge me.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
In my eyes, there is no way to argue that this is not the best book in the series. After years and years of waiting, we finally find out what happens in the end. So much excitement. Okay, sure it's kind of slow in the beginning and sure no one cares about the gang's camping trip, but it gets really good, really fast. We learn so much more about many, many characters. Snape is vindicated and Dumbledore is finally portrayed as a human with flaws. It is heart wrenching when so many characters die, but it makes Harry's victory in the end that much more important. Also, the introduction of the Deathly Hallows threw a nice little wrench into the situation and ultimately, the reader has to marvel at how Rowling tied so many details neatly together at the end. There are so many amazing things about this book I can't even say them all, but a definite highlight is Mrs. Weasley calling Bellatrix Lestrange a b*itch then killing the crazy, eyeliner-abusing, evil, vile woman.