Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…
Teenage or young adult fiction is a relatively new phenomenon. It wasn’t until Twilight and its ilk that publishers realised there was a market in teenage fiction. Prior to that you were limited to a few books by the likes of Meg Cabot (which were good to be fair), and various books based on TV series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed (which were awful). These books were expected to carry you over from the end of children’s books at about 12 till you were 14 or 15 while you slowly explored adult books.
However in reality JK Rowling was also writing young adult fiction, and before anyone was in any serious way. Harry Potter is always classed as children’s fiction, but that label becomes much harder to apply from book 5 onwards. The story obviously becomes much darker. Voldemort is back and all hell is breaking lose. However for me this is not what marks this book out as young adult fiction, but the issues it tackles. There is a sense that the fun and excitement of the Harry’s world is gone, and with it the childish element. It has been replaced by anger. This is undoubtly the angriest book in the entire series. Harry seems to spend a large part of the book angry with everyone and feeling terribly misunderstood. It is teenage angst at its best. We all remember being 15, and personally you couldn’t pay me to be 15 again. Then we have the confusion that goes with exploring sexual attraction to the opposite (or same) sex. It’s impossible to not laugh at both Harry and Ron’s complete cluelessness of girls, while Hermonie rolls her eyes at how dim boys can be. And to round it off, the stress of State exams (in both Ireland and the UK teenagers must sit State exams at 15/16). These are all completely relatable issues for teenagers and what for me makes this such a stand out book. It allows the story to transcend the magical world into our world.