I picked up "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" (aka the end of the series), but I decided to reread the first six books in order, because I'd forgotten so many of the details and even supporting characters. I'm currently just into "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (aka #5), and here's something that's been troubling me:
Okay, the four Houses of Hogwarts are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. As everyone knows, Slytherin is for the (overly)ambitious, and it also gets more than its share of the evil-minded. Gryffindor is for our heroes and is noted for prizing courage. Hufflepuff is for the loyal, and Ravenclaw for the witty and clever ones. It's also implied that the Ravenclaw students are intellectual snobs. (I'm pretty sure I'd be in Ravenclaw . . . .)
So why is it that Hermione Granger, Ms. Top Student in Her Class, Ms. Know It All From Books, is in Gryffindor, and not Ravenclaw? Oh sure, narratively, she's in Gryffindor because otherwise she wouldn't be as close to Harry Potter. But doesn't she seem like she belongs in Ravenclaw?
(And on that note, is it a little stereotypical that the one major Asian character, Cho Chang, just happens to be in Ravenclaw?!?)
UPDATE: As a commenter notes, author J.K. Rowling sort of addresses my question in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." On page 399, there's the following exchange between another student and Hermione:
"How come you're not in Ravenclaw?" he demanded, staring at Hermione with something close to wonder. "With brains like yours?"
"Well, the Sorting Hat did seriously consider putting me in Ravenclaw during my Sorting," said Hermione brightly, "but it decided on Gryffindor in the end."
Eh . . . this acknowledges the validity of my question, but it does nothing to answer it. With Harry Potter, for example, the Sorting Hat thought about putting him in Slytherin, but Harry let the hat know in no uncertain terms that he definitely did not want to be in Slytherin. There's no equivalent reason that Hermione would have felt such antipathy for Ravenclaw. Now it is true that Hermione has exhibited much courage during the series, and perhaps the Sorting Hat decided that courage more than intellect was her defining character . . . but that doesn't seem quite right to me.