Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 
by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #5)
Published June 21st 2013 by Bloomsbury

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...



The Order of the Phoenix is the 5th Harry Potter book and it's decidedly the biggest book of the series. My feelings about Order of the Phoenix have always been a bit more complex than is the case for other Harry Potter books; but then again OotP has a complex plot to match. Book 5 finds Harry dealing with the aftermath of watching Voldemort come back from the dead...and coping with the loss of Cedric. Only this time around there is an added twist; Harry is now considered a threat to the Ministry. And to top it all off Dumbledore won't even look at Harry let alone speak to him. He must come to grips with Voldemort's return, Harry must also get used to more frequent glimpses into Voldemort's feelings...and mind which tend to make Harry angry and moody. He feels guilty about a connection that exists between himself and Voldemort, a connection he has never fully understood.

Like I mentioned above, my feelings about Order of the Phoenix are complex. During my first readings, I always said this was my least favorite of the series, but upon re-reads my opinion has changed. There are so many things about OotP that I absolutely love. There are also some things that I used to hate; but that now I understand happened the way they did for a reason. OotP is a necessary step in the evolution of Harry's character. He gets invaluable lessons early on; lessons that are difficult, and sometimes unpleasant but that will serve him well. J.K.R really establishes how difficult a battle this is for Harry. How it feels to be completely isolated. To believe in a cause so much you're willing to be the martyr, to never waver when you really believe in something. Yes Umbridge is absolutely heinous and unbearable. But it shows how far the Ministry is willing to go to avoid the truth; and the lengths to which politician will go to remain in power (not something all that difficult to imagine)

I will say, I found the Grawp storyline to be a something of a drag. And a little bit pointless to be honest. There really is no reason for his storyline because as we all know,nothing major will come of it in later books. I feel like OotP had enough plot and information that we could have done without that whole detour. And of course, like most everyone it kills me to read about Sirius' faith at the end there. I have always adored Sirius's character and I feel that Harry deserved an adult family member to love him and protect him. But this re-read brought me to one conclusion: Sirius was always going to be ready and willing to jump in front of Harry and take the hit for him. It was only a matter of time before he would have met the same faith in another way, trying to save Harry...cause as we all know, there's always SOMEONE after Harry. Yes it is sad and cruel, but it was also inevitable. I've made my peace with it...doesn't mean I have to like it though.

The Harry from Order of the Phoenix is angry, bitter, confused, and isolated, but also realistic, determined and resolutely brave and compassionate. In some ways, I relate to Harry as a character so much more in OotP. Harry Potter will always be my favorite character in fiction. And despite being darker in this book, J.K. Rowling manages to have him ooze compassion...vulnerability...and love. Yes Dumbledore's favorite answer of love is probably what makes me read and re-read the Harry Potter series. JKR revealed many secrets at the end of this book, but she's not even close to done weaving her web :)

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