Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
||List Price: $29.99
Amazon.com Price: $17.99
- Media: Hardcover
Publisher: Scholastic (21 June, 2003)
- Average Customer Review:
Based on 3932 reviews.
Amazon.com Sales Rank: 4
Not bad, but no rave reviews like the previous four
The fifth book in the Harry Potter series came out yesterday, and I've just finished reading it. Since I'd had it on order at Amazon.com since *March 2001,* I've obviously been waiting for it for quite a while.
Perhaps it's because I've been waiting for it's release for so long, but this book doesn't seem to measure up to the previous four. As I read it, I kept waiting for something "interesting" or "big" to happen...but it never did. Even the conclusion, which is always the most fast-paced, didn't rile me up and suck me into the storyline as it normally did.
I think the biggest reason it failed to deliver the excitement of the previous Harry Potter books is the lack or scarcity of new information about the wizarding world. All of the previous books tell you something neat about Harry's world: New spells learned, new creatures discovered, a mystery to unravel (for example, the mysterious hissing in the walls that ended up being the basilisk in book two). Unfortunately, all those were either lacking in this book, or appeared to a lesser extent. There were creatures that looked like parts of trees (akin to stick-bugs in the 'real world,'), and an admittedly interesting winged horse-like creature (nothing like a pegasus, however) which is visible only to those who have seen death, but no new spells that come to mind. They focused on the oh-so-scary "O.W.L.S" exams and massive homework, but somehow still failed to instill a sense of urgency about exams in a reader. Finally, Harry's adversary in the Order of the Phoenix appeared to be the annoyingly sweet, yet obviously evil, Ministry of Magic employee, Professor Umbridge, who J.K. Rowling successfully made us love to hate, but seemed to occupy more of Harry's thoughts than his fear of Lord Voldemort, other than Harry's annoyance that no one seems to believe either Harry or Dumbledore when they insist the Dark Lord has returned.
I'm sure there will be many readers who disagree with me, and I can't say it's not worth the read, but I'm just not able to give this last one the unending praise I lavished on the first book, despite having been (and remain) a die-hard Harry Potter fan. I still look forward to the last two books, but I hope they have more substance and excitement than this installment, for all its length.
Harry rides again!
Harry's latest adventure takes him to darker places than he's been to previously, but as one grows up, going to darker places is a necessary fact of life and the Potter series is a terrific vehicle for teaching children how to cope with the new directions they may face in life.
So why only 4 stars? Well, where's an editor when you need one? An 870 page tome, Order of the Phoenix could have used a more little editing, and probably would have been less than the length of Goblet of Fire (Rowling's 4th book in the series). It would have made it a quicker read without taking any of the darkness or importance away from the subject or tone.
Ranked in order of what I consider to be the best to the "worst" (if you can call any of Rowling's books "worst") I would put 1. Goblet of Fire, 2. Prisoner of Azkaban, 3. Order of the Phoenix, 4. Chamber of Secrets, and 5. Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone - US).
Anyone who loves the series will get immense pleasure from Order of the Phoenix, I recommend it to anyone with an imagination and a love good books!
Dark, Deep, Daring---and Triumphant
So there I was, caught in a dilemma, leaving London very early on Saturday, June 21st, and I was torn---I knew that I needed to go to bed at a reasonable time, but I had also seen the signs trumpeting the news that Borders would be open from midnight to 1 AM to sell the new Harry Potter book...Exhaustion? Ha! What would Harry Potter do? Stay awake! So I did get a copy of the UK edition...and finished it on the plane, in one, long, glorious six-hour gulp of reading. The flight attendants all wanted me to tell them the plot...But I wouldn't. This is definitely a book to experience for yourself.
It's a good book, maybe the best of the series so far, with a steady, sturdy drive towards the climax and denouement---but it's the darkest tale yet, full of angst, uncertainty, conflicts, disillusionments, and identity crises. It doesn't have nearly so simple a plot-line-arc as the first three books, and Harry is not nearly as simple a character as when he was at eleven, twelve, and thirteen years old. He can be magentic, repulsive, generous, selfish, selfless, all at once---in short, Harry is growing up, and in addition to the ordinary teenage traumas, he's got scholastic and magical ones to face. And face them he does, with strength, courage, intelligence, and the help of good friends.
There is some very interesting (and very timely) commentary on the power of the press to manipulate public feelings, and some memorable new characters (the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is a truly hateful woman, and a type I think many people will recognize, more interested in schooling than in education), and more in-depth information about different faculty members' backgrounds and characters (the more I read about Minerva McGonigle, the more I admire her, and wish I'd had her for a teacher in high school). Ron and Hermione are also growing up, in ways both obvious and subtle. The focus on the school-ness of the series is strong again---more about classes and exams, though we don't get to hear about the results of Harry's OWLS until the next book, alas...
I recognized and sympathized with Harry's coming-of-age frustrations, pains, and stumblings, even more so as he discovered new facts about his idolized father's feet of clay and his beloved godfather's recklessness. I felt myself holding my breath, my eyes glued to the page, as Harry struggled, physically, emotionally, and magically, against his many enemies, and I was absolutely mesmerized by the inevitable climactic battle scene with Lord Voldemort---vividly-written and horrifying-real. Yes, it's a dark book, but to insist that the story be all sweetness and light, a romantic, undangerous kiddie-adventure, would be doing a deep injustice to the character of Harry Potter (and to his legions of readers) and to the muse of fiction writing...
I liked it very, very, very much---please, Ms. Rowling, don't make us wait so long next time!
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