Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Why did I pick it up?

Continuation of Harry Potter and the TwiWizard Tournament, pardon, Goblet of Fire. There are two books left in the series and I'm disappointed. I'm starting to like Harry Potter as a whole. Yes, a whole. I could do without books 1-3 but 4 and 5? These are where JK Rowling starts to shine.

I started Order of the Phoenix on February 9th and finished on Feb 14th, so five days. I had more time to read it during work breaks, waiting for the e-test on my car, and what not. The book itself is 766 pages which is up 100 from Goblet of Fire. Yes, massive so don't let my five day read time fool you.

Actually funny story. So, I'm reading Order at work and one of the people in my training class asks: "Which one are you reading now?" So I show him the cover and he says "Wow, you're going through those quick." And being me I say: "It's only around 600 pages." Him: "Only 600 pages...*shocked look and leaves*" I need to come with signage proclaiming I'm a voracious reader once I get into it...

The Review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling:

Same formula and yes, new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher is introduced. Can't one person stick around longer than a year? I mean really.

Anyway, Harry has his bad summer but this time Ron and Hermione aren't telling him anything. When he's finally picked up it's after facing down Dementors in his muggle-foster family's world. He has to save his cousin then because he uses magic, faces expulsion from Hogwarts (which we know isn't going to happen), is then saved by Dumbledore's interference, almost thrown out of the muggle-house, is saved by a mysterious letter and his aunt (who hates him but has to keep the promise the person in the letter is shouting about), and is then taken to a secret place by a dozen wizards. The kid never have a dull summer, I'll give him that.

The threat of expulsion is weak simply because Harry's defending himself against Dementors but so much emphasis is put on Harry being nervous and it's a bit tedious. The secret place is the home base of the Order of the Phoenix who Sirius, Lupine, Mad-Eye, and many more are a part of and who's job is to protect the uninformed wizard community against Volty's return.

I knew something bad was going to happen when the Black (Sirius') house-elf appeared on the scene. The concept of the house elf (Brownie) is disturbing. They're slaves, plain and simple but are forced to like being slaves. They love serving their masters so much they find it insulting when Hermione knits hats and scarves to give them to set them free. The entire concept of freedom is an insult. That's just...wrong.

Back to the plot. So Harry has some horrible nightmares and it turns out he's seeing and feeling what Voldemort sees and feels because of the scar connection. There is a lot of anger in this book, mainly from Harry, and I have to admit about half way through I wanted to reach through and give the kid a chill pill. Of course that's around where we find out Voldemort's affecting Harry's emotions, so hey. Plus Harry's 15 so it makes sense his first emotion to something not going his way is righteous anger, pardon, teenage anger but this is over the top. Speaking of over the top...

Umbridge, the Dark Arts teacher has been Ministry Appointed for the sole purpose of taking over the school She's who the bad guy is for this novel and my god is she a terror. She has a quill that when you write something with it, carves it into your hand which she makes Harry use. She bans Harry, Fred and George Weasley from Quiddich for life after they attacked Malfory. Yes, they did deserve punishment but not a lifetime ban. She tilts the favor to the Slytherin house and doesn't even bother teaching Dark Arts. This last point is what makes Ron and Hermione get Harry to start Dumbledore's Army, AKA: Defense of the Dark Arts. Why Dumbledore's Army? Because the Ministry of Magic wants Dumbledore sacked for saying Voldemort's come back.

There was a lot going on in this book and a major fight scene at the end. Another character dies but again Harry is kind of an idiot. Sirius gave him a gift and said "If you ever need to contact me, use this" but of course Harry doesn't open it because he doesn't want to tempt Sirius out of hiding. If Harry had opened it then he would have avoided half the issues in the book. The big one is being caught by Umbridge and being tricked by the house elf. Oh and the character dying. Yeah, that would've been completely avoided. ENTIRELY. The death itself wasn't even needed though.

But if it had been avoided then we wouldn't have found out Voldemort was after a prophecy dealing with him and Harry which basically reveals Harry's birth, that Voldermort would mark Harry as an equal and the only person who could defeat Voldermort for good was Harry. One of them must die...but we kind of knew that. I do find it cool Neville also could have fit the prophecy. Not cool that the mains found out what happened to his parents the way they did.

Luna Lovegood is introduced and let me say: YES. I love the quirky characters and she fits the bill. She's also competent magic wise and ends up being a huge help in the novel. I adore Fred and George as characters too and in here they became a bit more than comic relief. They provided Harry with a means to contact Sirius (even though he had a safer way and was an idiot about using it, re: the gift) as well as gave Umbridge a helluva run for her money. I also love their exit. If you're going to leave school: turn a hallway into a swamp and cause absolute chaos. *claps*

The Threshal's were an interesting concept...and of course they can fly at supersonic speeds to transport the gang to the Ministry when they needed it. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes it's a bit too convenient. But I'm sure every writers has done sometime similar at least once.

A few plot holes: Krum's just not mentioned after the whole TriWizard thing besides Hermione writing to him. And what about Harry's Firebolt? And why the Hell is Malfoy still allowed at school when he's the son of a Death Eater who's now in jail? And yes, another Dark Arts teacher bites the dust. Just give it to Snape all ready...speaking of: total drop of the ball here. He's such an interesting character and...nothing.

One thing I really liked? Harry realized how stupid he was in going after the character who died and not paying attention to Snape's extra lessons. Too bad it took someone close to him dying and his two BFFs being injured horribly.

Would I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix again?

Yes. There was a bunch going on which makes for an interesting book. I'm probably missing a bunch plot devices, holes, or whatever and now I understand why people re-read the books so often.

The Negatives:

Good God the formula! I understand Harry has to go back to his aunt's to keep the spell going, yadda, yadda, but can we have a summary page then just move on? And can we keep a Dark Arts teacher for longer than a year? There are all ready a lot of characters in the book, why add more?

It irks me beyond belief the people helping Voldemort were simply imprisoned or let off. You would think with all the spells and potions wizards could tell who's lying and be able to do the bad apples in. It's common sense NOT to keep the enemy alive and well and to finish off all his supporters when he's gone. But, kid's book so...

So far all the reviews are saying this is the weakest book. I can agree there was A LOT going on (probably too much) and the death occurred (though great on Rowling killing a Darling) didn't do anything but to further throw Harry into misery. And yes, he did go from a fairly optimistic boy to an angst-filled teen in the course of two weeks or less. He did start to perk back up in the end.

I also agree the book was released too soon and could have done with another round of editing. And seriously, was the point of Sirius' gift to Harry just to stab Harry with a knife again? That was cruel.

Final Review: 3.5/5 for both voracious readers and kids. The fight scene was good, confusing but good, and the books are becoming darker which is generally a no-no for the kid's in the age bracket this book is for.

Until next time: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments section.

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