Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
First published in: 2003
This edition: Bloomsbury paperback
Cover illustrations by Jason Cockcroft
The fifth book in J.K. Rowling's successful series starring young wizardry student, Harry Potter, starts off with Harry finding himself (and his cousin Dudley, who's a muggle) under vicious attack by Dementors – the prison guards of Azkaban. Harry insists it is Lord Voldemort's doing… the young wizard's life cannot be risked, and so Harry is soon whisked away into safety by several wizards and witches who have joined together to form the Order of the Phoenix. Something is going on, and Harry doesn't understand; everyone is acting secretive around him, including his best friends Ron and Hermione. Harry also wonders why everybody is fussing over him so much – instead of being out there, tracking down Voldemort…!
I love the idea of the Order of the Phoenix (by this I mean the group of wizards) and of Harry, Ron and Hermione's initiative to train themselves and a group of other students in the defense of the dark arts; chapters concerning the Order and Dumbledore's Army were most definitely my favourites. I really wish there was a bit more of this, but that's probably just me, haha.
But along with book 2 (which is forgettable), this is just not my favourite book in the series. It starts off too slowly, picking up pace after some 400 pages – and by the time I get there, I'm already too frustrated with Umbridge's irritating characteristics to really get into the book. She's almost as irritating as those house elves. I understand that Umbridge, a Ministry Official hell-bent on making Harry's life miserable, is supposed to be annoying… but one can only take so much of her. Because of Umbridge, this is the only Harry Potter book I've needed regular breaks from and couldn't finish in one sitting.
Despite that, the stand-off with Umbridge comes a little too soon and it's pretty anti-climatic. But Rowling had to leave room for the book's real conclusion. A heart-breaking one, and those of you who have read the series probably know what I am referring to (especially if you consider that Azkaban is my favorite Harry Potter book). I am being vague here, but I don't want to spoil anyone who has not yet (!) read the books so bluntly.
Anyway, I have had trouble accepting that Rowling has decided to go in this direction, but do perhaps see how it would further character development… and for the plot of the series in general to continue, stronger than ever. In that respect I do appreciate book 5, because it provides us with the start of the end game .(That's how I look at it.)
One more note regards Harry's romantic endeavours; they are not very interesting in this installment, though I do love that Rowling has written a story of magic, while keeping intact the very real feelings that come with puberty and reaching adolescence. Such as noticing girls, and worrying about who'll ask you to that dance. It makes sense that she includes these experiences for her characters, as they are growing up with each book.
To conclude this one: not liking the book as much as the rest, that doesn't mean I didn't like the book at all. I did. I will continue to re-read this series (including books 2 and 5!) even when I'm 80 years old, because that of feeling I get when reading these books. No other books have ever come close to that.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in itself accomplishes what the others also have. These books, all of them, they bring out that child within, the one that is usually hidden beneath this 26 year-old surface. They make me feel like a kid again, like anything is possible… it's a gift to be able to relive that (what I can only refer to as a) magical time. Rowling and her Harry Potter keep on giving.
R&R series © Karin E. Lips 2008, 2009 and beyond