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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (An imprint of Scholastic)       Date: 1999

The artistic format of the dust jacket is similar to that of the other two books. The color scheme of this jacket features more muted hues and it has less images on it. The front of the cover is dominated by an image of the protagonist riding a hippogriff before a lighted window with a shadow figure in the lower left hand corner of the image. The back of the dust jacket is also in muted hues compared to the previous two books. It only has three images pertaining to elements of the story unlike the first one which was filled with them and the second that was only slightly less filled with clues to the story within. It is clear that this jacket was produced by the same artist.

The book has dark aqua colored covers with a royal purple spine. The lettering on the spine is done in green foil and notes along with the title information which volume this is in the series. The inside of the covers are a pumpkin color. The pages of the text are an ivory color with a smooth hand. The font used for the headings of chapters and the title page is the same as was used for this purpose in the other books. Also, the same artist did the images at the head of each chapter that illustrates some key element of that chapter. The text is clear and well sized to make for an easy reading experience.

The storyline of this volume is a touch more complex then that of the preceeding books. Rowling's development of the intercharacter conflicts between the core group of Harry Potter, Ron Weasely, and Hermione Granger clearly illustrates the tensions that arise in three young people who are close friends and in a relatively challenging environment. As the book proceeds, the tension between the characters Ron and Hermione increases. This serves to underscore the rising action of the story and the building of tension in the entire setting and all characters within. The apex of this tension is handled cleverly and presents a well written plot twist that ties up loose ends from the previous books even as it explains elements of the backstory of Harry's situation.

Rowling presents a lush setting with a good deal of detail. Her handling of character descriptions becomes more deft and she summarizes secondary characters in a few lines rather then a paragraph or two. Her mechanics of magic are solidly established and become increasingly complex as the book develops, paralleling the progression of the students through their year at Hogwarts Academy. The tension established between the protagonists and the antagonists that were previously established is maintained and actually deepens in one case. This is all done in such a fashion where it has an organic, natural feeling to it.

The story is still clearly written for a youthful audience, but the increased complexity of the plot and characters reflects the older age of her readers who had started with the first book when it was released to the public. It is a well paced book that does not go over the top with description but explains things as well as it demonstrates them.

Rating:
7/10