Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
J K Rowling
June 21st 2003
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...
Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.
It's been about a year since I finished Goblet of Fire so I figured it was probably about time to get started with this beast (and it is a beast - it took me about two weeks to read it all). I kind of missed Harry Potter, actually. It was really nice to come back to it, although now that I finished mostly I just feel sad, for many reasons. Though almost all of those reasons are Sirius Black.
Let's not start with the sad parts, though! That would be far too grim. Order of the Phoenix is probably my second favourite of the books after Azkaban (I say probably because I am yet to read the last two and as such cannot make a proper judgement). Like, everything about it just works. Umbridge is a perfect villian, and she came about at the perfect time because she was horrid and evil and wicked and utterly despicable, but she wasn't Voldemort. She wasn't a Death Eater. She worked for the Ministry, for Fudge, and like, Fudge, she was afraid. I think the reason for Umbridge is because, like Sirius says, the world isn't split up into good people and Death Eaters. We all have the capability to do both, it is just the path we choose and the actions we take. Also, to show the corruption and messed-upedness of the Ministry. In fact, probably more that last one... But still. I kind of love Umbridge, just because of how much I absolutely hate her.
I think that the Ministry and the Daily Prophet are also some of my favourite things about Order of the Phoenix, for similar reasons. There is real fear in the Wizarding community because of Harry saying Voldey had returned and Dumbledore vouching for him, but Fudge refuses to accept this out of his fear that it could actually be true. He manipulates the Daily Prophet and it's readers subtly by just having small articles or comments denouncing Harry or Dumbledore, and twisting what Dumbledore has said instead into being about Dumbledore wanting to be Minister for Magic. I don't know, I just really like stuff about political corruption and stubborn ignorance in the face of a war or a dangerous threat. And manipulation. And all of that business. It's good stuff.
Also, and I know this causes a lot of conflict when I've heard people talk about the book, I actually really liked Harry. I mean, I didn't like, like him, but I thought of him as being a much more complex person than before, and complex, interesting people aren't always likeable. In fact, he's very negative throughout the whole of Order. This is mostly due to Voldey and the fact that the connection between the two of them has grown a lot stronger since Voldey come back, you know, corporeally, but I also think it has a lot to do with Harry becoming an actual teenager. Really, he just spends most of the book feeling angry at and betrayed by everyone he loves and trusted (typical teenager behavior), but I don't know, I just liked it more than when he's being boring and do-gooderish and, y'know, typical hero business. My other favourite thing about Harry was the conflict he felt about his father after he saw him and Sirius being general shitheads to Snape in the Pensieve. Now, I think that Snape was wrong in turning to Voldey as his lord and saviour and calling Lily a Mudblood, but James and Sirius was also arrogant arsehole bullies and I am just going to say this now - I do not like James Potter at all. And you know what, after reading Order, I don't like Sirius Black that much either. I kind of don't really get the whole Marauders thing because the only one I really like and care about is Remus. Anyway, I'm just really glad that this properly bothered Harry, too.
Luna. Luna Lovegood. I thought I loved you in the films, but my good I love you even more in the books. You are fabulous and perfect and the best. That concludes the obligatory I Love Luna segment of this review.
I do think that maybe the book was just a tad too long (like, 766 pages guys. Come on. I love Harry Potter, but that is A LOT.) and there was some stuff I could have done without, like sometimes there are whole chapters that are 90% and Here's What They Did In Their Lessons That Is Irrelevant To Everything and 10% PLOT POINT, or the whole chapter on how Harry did in each of his OWLs which wasn't important until he had a vision in the last one. Do I need to know how badly Harry felt he did on his potions OWL? No, I don't. But I think that they're just the consequences of writing a series of books wherein each one covers the events of an entire school year. That's, like, 8/9 months. That's a lot to cover. There's going to be a lot of content which is just sort of not really that important.
Oh, and one more last minute point about Umbridge, and the Wizarding World. I say this a lot, but oh my god do they have like not Child Protection laws or something? The first book: The Forbidden Forest is completely forbidden unless it's for detention purposes in which case it's COMPLETELY okay to send them out into the Forbidden forest full of dangerous magic creatures at night with a dog for protection. Oh, and your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is Voldey. But that's fine, I mean, it's not like the best wizard in the world would be able to pick up on that. Book two: There may or may not be a giant snake trying to kill Muggleborns at out school and the spirit of a notorious Dark Wizard is possessing a first year girl. Oh, and your new DatDA teacher is a self obsessed liar who can't actually do any of the things we thought he could, but it's fine, I'm sure. Book three: We're just going to let a load of evil soul sucking Dementours live in our school while looking for a murderer that may or may not be hanging out around Hogwarts. Oh, and your new DatDA teacher is a werewolf, but he's a good one! Book four: We're just going to host a really dangerous wizarding competition in which students have actually died and once your name comes out of the Goblet no take-backsies because MAGIC even if you're only fourteen years old. Oh, and your new DatDA teacher isn't actually the guy we think it is it's a Death Eater who's taking Polyjuice Potion and wants to fuck up Harry's life and give him to the Dark Lord. Whoops. We don't know how these people get past out security. Book five: VOLDEMORT. Oh, and your new DatDA teacher is a crazy woman who will use a quill that literally WRITES WITH YOUR OWN BLOOD in detention even though she's part of the Ministry, which, I may add, completely has it in for the school. But we'll just overlook the fact that she gave Filch back the right to whip the students and nearly used and Unforgivable curse on a student. What Fudge doesn't know won't hurt him, right? I'm sure it's fine.
And I could go on.
I'm not 100% certain I would want to go to Hogwarts.
Anyway, Order of the Phoenix was great. I genuinely really liked it a lot lot more that I thought that I was going to given people's general reactions to it. Hopefully, I'll get to book 6 before next year... But I make no promises.
"I kind of love Umbridge, just because of how much I absolutely hate her."ReplyDelete
"I just really like stuff about political corruption and stubborn ignorance in the face of a war or a dangerous threat. And manipulation. And all of that business. It's good stuff."
Lol indeed it is!
"I thought of him as being a much more complex person than before, and complex, interesting people aren't always likeable."
And R.O.F.L. to your entire "Harry Potter in a nutshell" paragraph, because, OMGSRSLY. Never really thought of it that way, but you're right! Hogwarts is just a magnet for trouble.
Such a good review, Cicely. Thanks for the entertainment -- combined with really good, thoughtful commentary -- as usual. ;D