Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Genre: YA Fantasy
"Harry wants to get away form the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving tow other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal-even by wizarding standards.
And, in his case, different can be deadly."
This is my favorite novel of the Harry Potter series, and I'm not quite sure why. It could be the exciting competition and danger inherent in each event, the nail-biting exciting game of Quidditch at the beginning, the mysteries woven into the novel, or that this novel is less depressing/dark than the later ones, and Harry is becoming a great wizard. Most likely it's all of the above.
I love how creative this novel is; I've read it probably three times before, but as I listened to it again, there was much I had forgotten. Rowling is the best author at world building that I have encountered thus far. She fills her novels (especially this one), with details that bring the reader right into the protagonist's life, as if the idea of a wizarding world is as natural as the dirt on the ground. All these tidbits, like the kinds of candies the wizards eat, the classes they take and what they learn, the games they play, etc. fascinates me and makes me feel as if I've stepped right into the wizarding school of Hogwarts and not want to leave.
I understand why people don't let their children read these books, but they are some of the cleanest novels I've ever read and full of fun. Yes, they get darker toward the end, but good always triumphs, and readers learn that life is not all peaches and cream, and love is worth fighting for. I give this novel a 4.5 and recommend it for middle-schoolers and up.
What I learned: Constant Vigilance! (gotta love Mad-Eye Moody.) Friendships are invaluable, and fretting over the future does no one any good.