George V. Reilly

Review: The Order of the Phoenix

The Order of the Phoenix
Title: The Order of the Phoenix
Author: J.K. Rowling
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Scholastic
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 870
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 14-15 July, 2007

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.

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