Ah, Harry Potter. How I have missed you. I've been looking forward to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for a long time, because many Harry Potter fans have told me that this book is their favorite in the series. That is no surprise, because this book took the franchise to a new level.
At the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry witnesses the murder of a classmate and faces Voldemort himself, but Harry returns to Hogwarts as an outcast instead of a hero because none of his classmates believe Harry's story. As this book begins, some wizards begin to prepare for a possible war with Voldemort and his Death Eaters by forming the Order of the Phoenix. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Magic (the "government" of the wizard community) is trying its best to convince everyone that Harry was lying about Voldemort's return. The Ministry begins to interfere at Hogwarts, including passing educational decrees and making faculty appointments that stand in the way of the Order's plan to prepare wizards and witches for defending themselves against Voldemort.
Of course, it's very hard to go into a detailed review without a) spoiling the previous books and/or b) rambling about a bunch of characters that you don't know unless you're familiar with the previous books. My reviews of the later books in any series are always lacking, but that's just the way it has to be.
I will say that there is quite a lot going on in this book. Let's see... There's the building anticipation of a clash with Voldemort's followers, Harry's reputation re-building at Hogwarts, the tyranny of Hogwarts' new instructor, a crazy look into Professor Snape's past with Harry's father, some underlying family issues, some developments with Harry's love interest, some REALLY IMPORTANT PEOPLE DYING, and... I could go on. I mean, this book is heavy -- literally and figuratively. (Seriously, every book is longer than the last one. This one is nearly 900 pages. In hardback. It's like carrying around a brick.)
If you had asked me when I was half-way through if I thought this book was better that the last four, I would've said no. Ask me now, and I will say it's my favorite. The last half, or maybe even just the last third of this book is exquisite. Say what you will about J.K. Rowling, but I think she is fabulous at character development. These are just kids, after all, who are growing into young adults, and Rowling gracefully moves us right along with them. As for the plot... I have said this about pretty much all of the Harry Potter books, but I am continually surprised by the depth and surprises this series has. Rowling's a very, very creative and intelligent author.
Confession: I totally cried toward the end of this book. (That's TWO books in the last couple of months that have made me cry. It's terrible. I need to read happier things.) It was gut-wrenching. I had to reread a few pages three or four times to be sure I was reading it right, and then I cried. And then I felt like crying for the rest of the book, but I toughed it out. From what I understand, the next two are even more of an emotional rollercoaster, so that should be fun. This book ends with some serious "WHAT?!" moments, so I'm very much looking forward to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. SOON!
5 out of 5 stars
Read from August 8, 2011 to September 18, 2011