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Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix Paperback – August 10, 2004
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As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief... or will it?
The fifth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series follows the darkest year yet for our young wizard, who finds himself knocked down a peg or three after the events of last year. Somehow, over the summer, gossip (usually traced back to the magic world's newspaper, the Daily Prophet) has turned Harry's tragic and heroic encounter with Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament into an excuse to ridicule and discount the teen. Even Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, has come under scrutiny by the Ministry of Magic, which refuses to officially acknowledge the terrifying truth that Voldemort is back. Enter a particularly loathsome new character: the toadlike and simpering ("hem, hem") Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, who takes over the vacant position of Defense Against Dark Arts teacher--and in no time manages to become the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, as well. Life isn't getting any easier for Harry Potter. With an overwhelming course load as the fifth years prepare for their Ordinary Wizarding Levels examinations (O.W.Ls), devastating changes in the Gryffindor Quidditch team lineup, vivid dreams about long hallways and closed doors, and increasing pain in his lightning-shaped scar, Harry's resilience is sorely tested.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, more than any of the four previous novels in the series, is a coming-of-age story. Harry faces the thorny transition into adulthood, when adult heroes are revealed to be fallible, and matters that seemed black-and-white suddenly come out in shades of gray. Gone is the wide-eyed innocent, the whiz kid of Sorcerer's Stone. Here we have an adolescent who's sometimes sullen, often confused (especially about girls), and always self-questioning. Confronting death again, as well as a startling prophecy, Harry ends his year at Hogwarts exhausted and pensive. Readers, on the other hand, will be energized as they enter yet again the long waiting period for the next title in the marvelous, magical series. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter
The Potternaut rolls on, picking up more size than speed but propelling 15-year-old Harry through more hard tests of character and magical ability. Rowling again displays her ability to create both likable and genuinely scary characters--most notable among the latter being a pair of Dementors who accost Harry in a dark alley in the opening chapter. Even more horrible, Ministry of Magic functionary Dolores Umbridge descends upon Hogwarts with a tinkly laugh, a taste in office decor that runs to kitten paintings, and the authority, soon exercised, to torture students, kick Harry off the Quidditch team, fire teachers, and even to challenge Dumbledore himself. Afflicted with sudden fits of adolescent rage, Harry also has worries, from upcoming exams and recurrent eerie dreams to the steadfast refusal of the Magical World's bureaucracy to believe that Voldemort has returned. Steadfast allies remain, including Hermione, whose role here is largely limited to Chief Explainer, and a ragtag secret order of adults formed to protect him from dangers, which they characteristically keep to themselves until he finds out about them the hard way. Constructed, like GOBLET OF FIRE, of multiple, weakly connected plot lines and rousing, often hilarious set pieces, all set against a richly imagined backdrop, this involves its characters once again in plenty of adventures while moving them a step closer to maturity. And it's still impossible to predict how it's all going to turn out. (Fiction. 12-15)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books September 2003
Harry Potter's latest adventure reveals an admirable hero somewhat the worse for wear: his grief at the death of Cedric, his fear of (and connection to) the evil Lord Voldemort, and his emotional distance from Professor Dumbledore combine to make Harry a bit short-tempered, a bit short-sighted, and a bit more recognizably human. Rowling eases readers back into Harry's world-and-Harry's precarious existence-with nary a ripple: the suburban peace of the Dursleys' manicured lives is shattered by the intrusion of dementors, sent by a rogue in the Ministry of Magic and seeking to do Harry serious injury. A wizard rescue party retrieves Harry from the world of Muggles and sets him down amidst the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society that plots Voldemort's final downfall. With an escalating love life, academic complications at school, and a Ministry of Magic determined to ignore the obvious, Harry is in an adolescent uproar. Revelations about Sirius Black, Professor Snape, and Harry's late father cause the boy to question all he holds true, and his confusion clouds his judgment. A roaring set of practical jokes by Fred and George Weasley against a politically appointed, obnoxious new professor at Hogwarts lightens the tone just in time for the Order's tragic confrontation with Voldemort and his malevolent minions. Rowling cheerfully turns her own conventions on th@ir cars, and the result is a surprising and enjoyable ride. While Harry's much-touted love interest fizzles before it fires, familiar characters achieve a bit more depth. Ginny Weasley starts to come into her own, Hermione employs a dryly wicked wit, and Dumbledore reveals, if not feet, at least a little toe of clay. It's no longer quite clear that all will work out in the end; the lines are being drawn, but, as exemplified by Percy Weasley, not everyone is on the right side. Rowling has managed to make Harry and his fate a bit less predictable, which, in the fifth of a seven-volume series, is a very good thing. JMD
Horn Book Magazine
(September 1, 2003; 0-439-35806-X)
(Intermediate, Middle School) This review is much like the proverbial tree falling in an uninhabited forest: unlikely to make a sound. But for the record, HP5 is the best in the series since Azkaban, and far superior to the turgid HP4. With Rowling once again f
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Harry, now 15 and in his fifth year at Hogwarts, is no longer the awestruck 11-year-old from "Sorceror's Stone". He spends most of "Phoenix" alternating between anger, frustration and sullenness, all understandable given his age and the tribulations he's endured. Harry's typically joyless summer with the Dursleys is interrupted by a terrifying visit from a pair of dementors. A mysterious howler arrives for Aunt Petunia, of all people. Soon after, Harry finds himself at the headquarters of the "Order Of The Phoenix", a secret organization of anti-Voldemort witches and wizards working tirelessly to counter the second coming of the Dark Lord.
All of this makes for a quite promising start. But, the story bogs down faster than you can say "Avada Kadavra", the wizarding world's Unforgivable death spell than you will soon wish someone would hurl against you to put you out of the misery of having to finish this accursed novel. "Phoenix" has too many new and unnecessary characters (the new Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher is particularly dreadful), too many subplots (few of which are adequately resolved), and far, far, far too many chapters.
Most Unforgivable of all is the book's wholly unsatisfying ending. Without leaking any spoilers, let's just say it's clear that author J.K. Rowling felt she was under a lot of pressure to get the manuscript finished, and it shows. Loose ends and gaping logical holes abound. There is a dreadful 'deux ex machina' feeling to the climatic battle scene. Many of the mysteries she so tantalizingly introduced in the early chapters are explained away maddingly with the equivalent of a wrist-flick.
Rowling's brilliant imagination and narrative gift are still visible in places, but it is as though they are entwined in Devil's Snare. Please do not let Ms. Rowling's legions of apologists sell you that this book isn't as satisfying as its predecessors because it's more subtle, nuanced, or sophisticated. This is nonsense. It is none of the above. It is just plain bad.
If the strain on Harry is palpable in this novel, it is ten times so on Rowling. The young British mom, like her famous creation, finds herself at the center of a worldwide storm she inadvertently created, one that must seem to her to have spun out of control.
The Harry Potter series is too strong to be derailed by one terrible installment. But, drastic adjustments need to be put in place for Books Six and Seven. For starters, Rowling needs to take as much time as she wants to decompress and write Book Six, and if it requires ten years then so be it. She also needs a dedicated editor or three, a continuity checker, and a publisher with the guts to take a 900-page manuscript from the world's most famous author and send it back with a yellow sticky note saying "Great first draft, JK darling! Now cut it down to 350 pages so we can publish it." Scholastic, are you listening?
I won't rehash what it was about, for those who read reviews and don't read the books things can be spoiled, I'm sure there are a few out there who read the books and not watch the movies, but the book was simply addictive once I got back into it and I was spell bound by the humor, the creatures, spells and increasingly better at incantations students who made the read enjoyable, seems that their education at Hogwarts did indeed enrich their magic because now they were able to defend themselves even better than before. A new menacing force under the disguise of a high inquisitor going by the name of Dolores Umbridge has taken over the school, making the teachers nervous, prohibiting virtually all fun for the students, making their lives hell, on top of that a secret order that is guarding secrets and information that pertains to the battle that has been raging between the good wizards and Voldermort, has enchanted Harry to the point where he's under extra strain to complete his studies and help them with an ancient battle that keeps getting more difficult to fight each year.
The book was bittersweet, something happens that makes Harry feel like he has been stung again by pain that no one else can understand but it also opens a whole set of new questions about his own future in book six, which I will read before I see the movie, these books are way too amazing to pass up and so much tends to get cut out of the film, each chapter is precious, each page amazing, it's really so much fun reading the series that I am getting sad at the thought of there only being two books left till the end. Boo hoo...