My friend says the first Harry Potter book is the best. I say it's Deathly Hallows. Which is it?
—ValentinesAllOver, via the inbox
For the record, it looks like the world agrees with neither of you. Yes, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone introduced us to Diagon Alley and all the rest, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows bundled everything up as prettily as a Veela's derriere. (The final movie installment of the Potter story bows July 15, and we're livestreaming the premiere July 11.)
But it looks like two other books have won the most dragon hearts:
I speak of books three and four, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Both of those novels are rated a full five stars on Amazon.com, while the rest merit around 4.5 stars. Of course, Amazon ratings don't reflect critical views, but nobody cares what critics think, anyway.
As for your B!tch, I agree with the masses of readers on Amazon. The Potter books are at their best when they focus on people—their strengths, and, more importantly, their weaknesses in the face of fear—rather than magical McGuffins like horcruxes or magical stones.
The revelations about the Marauders (in Prisoner), and the fate of Cedric Diggory (in Goblet), play those strengths to the fullest effect.
If you disagree with me, you are, of course, wrong.
Still, feel free to vote for your own favorite Potter novel in the poll below, and listen to our heated discussion on the latest podcast!