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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...Review

About the book:
There is a door at the end of a silent corridor. And it's haunting Harry Potter's dreams. Why else would he be waking in the middle of the night, screaming in terror?

Here are just a few things on Harry's mind:
*A Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher with a personality like poisoned honey
*A venomous, disgruntled house-elf
*Ron as keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team
*The looming terror of the end-of-term Ordinary Wizarding Level exams

...and of course, the growing threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In the richest installment yet of J.K. Rowling's seven-part story, Harry Potter is faced with the unreliability of the very government of the magical world and the impotence of the authorities at Hogwarts.

Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he finds depth and strength in his friends, beyond what even he knew; boundless loyalty; and unbearable sacrifice.

Though thick runs the plot (as well as the spine), readers will race through these pages and leave Hogwarts, like Harry, wishing only for the next train back.

Delightfully entertaining. The book opens with a bored, 15-year old Harry. He's full of normal teenage angst that is compounded by the fact that he's feeling abandoned by the wizarding world. He managed to finish the Triwizard Tournament, only to watch Cedric die at the hands of Wormtail and then find himself face to face with Lord Voldemort. As soon as school ended, he was sent back to the Dursley's with no significant contact from Ron and Hermione. After defending a dementor attack on himself and Dudley, he is faced with expulsion from Hogwarts.

This book could be considered the darkest, so far. Harry returns to school to find that he is the object of scorn and ridicule. The ministry has been playing down the events of the last year and refuses to admit that Lord Voldemort has returned.

Harry is also a teenager. He's facing difficult exams. He's tired of being famous. When he finally gets to Grimmauld Place and meets up with Ron and Hermione again, he lets loose with frustrated rant. It was dead on for a teenager who is angry at the fact that while he has, several times, fought the greatest wizard of all time, he is still treated like a child who doesn't understand.

He questions everything and he struggles with his attraction to Cho Chang. Professor Dumbledore seems to ignore him and the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge, is an evil fascist who hates him. He's having nightmares about a door he can't get through, and he must take Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape.
There is a lot of action and a lot of angst. There are some funny parts. I love the scene when Harry is telling Ron and Hermione about his kiss with Cho and wonders why she was crying. When Hermione explains the emotional aspect of girls the interchange between her and Ron is priceless. I'm so glad they included it in the film.

Another great aspect of the book is when Harry, Hermione and Ron form the DA. Professor Umbridge won't teach them defensive spells and so Hermione takes it upon herself to convince Harry to teach them. That these teenagers all came together to do this is terrific and I loved seeing Harry have responsibility and the ability to teach his fellow classmates so many of the things he had used to defend himself against Voldemort. It was well done in the film too.

I always felt that Sirius' character wasn't well-developed and it was hard to believe that Harry felt so much connection with him, other than the fact that he was James' best friend. In the book, he's mostly sullen and angry, which is understandable. But, there isn't much compassion or affection shown. I much prefer the Sirius from the film. Gary Oldman really brought the character to life and he and Daniel Radcliffe really had a father/son chemistry. His death in the book was anti-climactic. His death in the film was heart-wrenching.

My other complaint with this book is Grawp. Hagrid doesn't need any extra, insignificant plot points. I don't see Grawp's purpose in the series. Even after finishing #7, his role isn't really necessary. He does nothing to improve the storyline. It's annoying and distracting. While I don't like Dobby, I don't understand why he hasn't been given more screen time since the Chamber of Secrets. He has a much more important role than Grawp has in the remaining books.

Until 6 and 7 came along, this was my favorite book!

I read my personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Last read 7/08

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

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