Pros: Excellent story, great characters, furthered the main plot
Cons: Tissues required
I love diving into the world of a good book and immersing myself in the story, though it is sometimes to my emotional detriment. The ones that truly provide this experience are very special to me. I have very much enjoyed the Harry Potter series since the first volume, but I underestimated the extent of my emotional investment in these characters until now. The series’ fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, provides a mixture of excitement, joy, laughter, fear, and tears while continuing to delve into this rapidly darkening story.
Story and Characters
Spoiler-free synopsis: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix continues the coming of age story that began with Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry five years earlier. With the help of friends Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, and Hagrid, and the guidance of Professor Dumbledore, Harry continues to discover secrets of his past and how they will influence his future. The resulting story is a tale of new alliances, secret societies, bravery, and perseverance.
Like its predecessors, this story kept me interested from beginning to end. Harry Potter is so imaginative that it’s difficult not to be immersed in my imagination. The detailed descriptions of the environment and the realistic character interactions intermingle to create an engrossing experience; so much so, that I find myself enjoying the story more often than my usual analysis and guessing ahead while reading. Even when I seemed to catch wind of Rowling’s foreshadowing, I had no foreknowledge of how the story might arrive at my suspected outcome. This book has a more sinister tone than those before it, which fits in well with what seems to be a crescendo toward darkness across the series. The characters deal with more serious challenges in the academic and personal lives giving rise to numerous subplots, which intertwine with the main plot, eventually converging for the conclusion of the book.
The end of each novel is where Rowling’s skill is most evident. Harry has a revelation about Voldemort’s latest plans and resolves to stop him. The last few chapters of the book kept me on the edge of my seat, anxious to see what happened next. All of the plotlines were wrapped up completely. I wasn’t thrilled about several of the events, but it would be ridiculous to complain about a series not being all sunshine and rainbows. The darkest incident was shocking and heart-wrenching, but realistic. Just as in real life, some of our darker moments don’t happen on our timetable and leave us in sad disbelief.
I am continuously impressed by how deeply I’ve connected to this story emotionally. Whenever Harry is anxiously awaiting the passing of the summer holidays at the Dursley’s, I find myself feeling restless as well. A calm, peaceful feeling settles over me once Harry finally gets to school each year, as Rowling conveys the sense of home so well. My emotions mirror Harry’s in the activities to which he looks forward, happily anticipating each Quidditch match and D.A. meeting. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, this empathy extends to the sadder moments of the story as well. I spent most of the last few chapters in tears, which I consider a testament and risk of Rowling’s brilliance as a writer.
The characters in the Harry Potter series are truly remarkable. Each has traits with which I recognize or empathize. Harry is an admirable main character, with whom I sympathized even through his more whiny moments during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My husband pointed out that the whining was rather fitting for a teenager of Harry’s age in the book. I concur, though I think given the circumstances Harry has had to endure has probably warranted even more complaining than he did.
There were several new characters introduced in this book. I instantaneously loathed the supremely sadistic Dolores Umbridge, who is sent to Hogwarts from the Ministry of Magic. Luna Lovegood is another new addition to Harry’s acquaintances with her unique perspectives and aloof attitude toward more trivial matters at their school. I found Harry’s reaction to these character actions to be very interesting and furthered my feeling of admiration for his moral fiber. This book also gave me a new respect for repeat character Neville Longbottom, with whom we get more acquainted in this title.
As you’ve probably garnered from the rest of my review, I think J. K. Rowling is a superb writer. Her creativity combined with her impressive talent for descriptive writing has made it easy to see why this series is so popular. Her verbiage provides a good balance of interesting language, while preserving the flow that makes it easy to read. Rowling uses a few British colloquialisms, which I’ve been amused to find myself adopting. Describing a spat I had witnessed earlier in the day, I found myself describing the “row” to my husband and how I thought one party should “come off it.”
My copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a paperback edition, 870 pages in length. It is listed at $12.99 on its cover, but my husband gave it to me as part of the series collection. I have been alternating between reading this and the digital version on my Kindle, which is free to Prime members on Amazon’s lending library.
The Harry Potter Series
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince