So I just finished the longest book I’ve ever read. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, sitting at more than 190,000 words, is almost twice as long as its predecessor, The Prisoner of Azkaban. Since book 3 is where the books really started separating from the movies in terms of content and detail, Goblet is bound to be more complex than the movie.
Usually these posts touch on my thoughts as a writer who’s trying to get published, but since it’ll sound the same as my previous Harry Potter posts, this will be more of a comparison between the book and it’s movie adaptation. Being someone who watched all the movies first, what did I think?
Before I talk about my thoughts on the book itself, I should mention that, save for the dream sequence opener, the first 100 pages or so aren’t in the movie at all. The Dursleys don’t show up in the movie whereas they have a couple chapters in the book. The final pages with the Dursleys, where the Weasleys pick Harry up for the Quidditch World Cup, are kind of hilarious. While this would have been great to see on screen, it’s already the second longest in the series.
The book itself is pretty good, and for the most the extra content made it worth it. Some of the plot details were changed for the movie, and seeing how long the movie is already, I can understand simplifications. The imposter’s identity remains the same of course. From this point on, the review will contain spoilers for those who haven’t either read the book or watched the movie, but I’ll try not to spoil any specific differences between the two versions.
Admittedly I prefer the movie’s simpler take on the main story in some minor ways. The part where Voldemort is expositing his plan to Peter felt a bit excessive and Bond villain-ish. The movie on the other hand explained everything in a simple manner. The added detail on Crouch Jr’s plan and motivation, not to mention how he escaped Azkaban, are most certainly welcome though. This book also contains a lot of foreshadowing for the rest of the series, something the movie almost completely lacked. The final chapter is all about Fudge, the minister of magic, denying Voldemort’s return. It also connects the first three movies’ plots together in ways that moviegoers have to figure out on their own. This would have been nice to see in the movie but then again, time constraints.
One thing I really liked was how it delved into how Cedric’s death affected Harry much more than the movie did. It explores how it took weeks for him to talk to his friends about it. Another thing I liked is how JK Rowling spent a couple chapters worth of Harry Potter practicing hexes and defense in preparation for the Hedge Maze challenge. This preparation obviously affected Dumbledore’s Army and Harry’s own combat expertise by the series finale.
But my favourite sub-plot that’s greatly expanded on in the book may be the Rita Skinner plot. As a Journalism student myself, it’s kind of hilarious reading such a scathing take on sensationalist journalism. And what a perfect analogy it is with Rita transfiguring herself into a bug. It works as both a magical version of a hidden microphone, and as a pest who just won’t go away. The mini articles added to the pages helped add depth to this sub-plot. The movie only glanced at her slimy articles.
In terms of the action, the biggest change is how the first task played out. In the movie, we don’t learn how the other champions passed the dragon to grab their golden eggs. In the book, we learn each of their strategies and how they were scored. In the movie, the dragon ends up chasing Harry all over the school, even damaging a few rooftops in the process. In the book, the entire sequence happens within the challenge’s boundaries. Both versions work well for their formats. The third task, in the hedge maze, was also quite different. The book built up to its obstacles from the start of the school year, but I like how in the movie, the maze itself shifts around. I’m honestly not sure which version I prefer; they’re both intense.
Reading this book might be a bit of a project for those who aren’t used to reading longer novels, but even though it’s the longest novel I’ve ever read, it didn’t feel like a project. The writing style, while still mostly meant for younger readers, works very well. The added detail on subplots, especially the extra detail with Crouch Jr, made it more than worth it.
That said, I’m still quite nervous about reading The Order of the Phoenix. Not only is it by far the longest book in the series, but some of my writer friends say it’s their least favourite book in the series. It’s actually my favourite movie out of the 8 though, so that might help me through it. But before then, I have at least 3 novels and 2 non-fiction books to read through. My next book will be Gunmetal Magic, a side-novel in Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. After that I’m not sure yet, but it might be George RR Martin’s vampire book, Fevre Dream.