Having just seen the new Harry Potter movie, I decided to reread this book and the Half-Blood Prince before the release of the final book, next weekend.
The movie omits vast swathes of plot, of course, but delivers a competent retelling of the book.
Voldemort came back to life at the end of the previous book, but only Harry Potter has seen him and few, apart from Dumbledore and the reconstituted Order of the Phoenix, believe him. A tinpot dictator from the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge, is sent to Hogwarts to clamp down on troublemakers. Harry goes through his fifth year, studying for the OWL examinations, fighting with Umbridge, and being increasingly troubled by dreams linking him to Voldemort.
The book is entertaining and moves the Harry Potter saga along, but it’s too long. Rowling, like Stephen King, is too much of a publishing phenomenon for editors to have a strict hand with her.
Harry is in full-blown, awkward adolescence: sulky, misunderstood, clumsy around girls, and rebellious. He fights with all of his well-meaning friends, Ron, Hermione, and Sirius.
In the movie, particularly, I thought that Harry was ill-used by Dumbledore as a pawn in the struggle against Voldemort. The book allows for more nuance. A lot of grief and misunderstanding could have been avoided if only Dumbledore had been forthcoming much earlier. Of course, that would have ruined most of the plot.