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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Audio, Cassette
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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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4 Up-Harry has just returned to Hogwarts after a lonely summer. Dumbledore is uncommunicative and most of the students seem to think Harry is either conceited or crazy for insisting that Voldemort is back and as evil as ever. Angry, scared, and unable to confide in his godfather, Sirius, the teen wizard lashes out at his friends and enemies alike. The head of the Ministry of Magic is determined to discredit Dumbledore and undermine his leadership of Hogwarts, and he appoints nasty, pink-cardigan-clad Professor Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and High Inquisitor of the school, bringing misery upon staff and students alike. This bureaucratic nightmare, added to Harry's certain knowledge that Voldemort is becoming more powerful, creates a desperate, Kafkaesque feeling during Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. The adults all seem evil, misguided, or simply powerless, so the students must take matters into their own hands. Harry's confusion about his godfather and father, and his apparent rejection by Dumbledore make him question his own motives and the condition of his soul. Also, Harry is now 15, and the hormones are beginning to kick in. There are a lot of secret doings, a little romance, and very little Quidditch or Hagrid (more reasons for Harry's gloom), but the power of this book comes from the young magician's struggles with his emotions and identity. Particularly moving is the unveiling, after a final devastating tragedy, of Dumbledore's very strong feelings of attachment and responsibility toward Harry. Children will enjoy the magic and the Hogwarts mystique, and young adult readers will find a rich and compelling coming-of-age story as well.
Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Ms. Rohlwing continues to add to her large cast of characters, perhaps introducing one of the most evil villains of the entire series in Dolores Umbridge. This is saying a lot, as there are plenty of fiends and devils willing to serve the Dark Lord. Perhaps it is because many of us can remember that one teacher in our own life who seemed to do everything in his or her power to inject misery into our lives. Those teachers (wrongly accused or not) live on in Umbridge.
Like all of Ms. Rohlwing’s books, this one is captivating, exciting, and almost impossible to set down. Five stars.
In relation to the rest of the series, The Order of the Phoenix is one of the best and most important books. If you have read the first four books and are reading reviews to see whether you should continue, you should. If you are wondering whether you can read this book without having read the first four, I don't recommend it.
After encountering Dolores Umbridge, I was left pondering the question "What is evil?" Voldemort is obviously the Villian of the series, however I feel Umbridge is a much more sinister and evil Villian than even Voldemort. Voldemort's actions and evil deeds are really very simple to understand. What motivates him is power and greed and he is willing to go to any lengths to achieve those goals. While evil in itself, his motives and actions are very straight forward and easy to understand. It is easy to see Voldemort for the evil that he is, which therefore keeps him in hiding only surrounded by his Death Eaters. Dolores Umbridge is a very different type of evil. Dolores Umbridge is the type of evil that we, the muggles that we are, encounter on a daily basis. They are the people who enjoy the hurt, pain, chaos and distrust they cause through their manipulations and lies. The enjoy the devastation they cause in their wake. The fact that she can create the heartache she relishes so much with a false smile, sweet sanguine falsetto, and splashes of whimsy to give the impression of naïveté and an innocent childlike behavior which puts one off initially of comprehending the true evil she inflicts to hide the monster she is, and the fact that through these false tactics she has risen to a position of power to inflict heartache unto others, shows she is a master at hiding her true psychopathic personality. This sick personality trait is shown most clearly when she makes Harry write lines in detention. She knows Harry is telling the truth, yet she lies and manipulates him until she is in a position of power directly over him in detention at which point she not only continues her lies causing mental anguish to Harry, she continues her evil machinations by causing him physical pain by forcing him to use her quill which scratches and ultimately scars Harry for the rest of his life. Umbridge enjoys Harry's suffering. She even inspects his hand at the end of each detention to make sure he is being cut and that his hand is bleeding and then in a well satisfied way compliments Harry on completing his detention. Her only praise is when Harry does something to cause hurt and pain and twists what he knows is the truth into something false. This is standard textbook psychopathic behavior in domestic abusers.
The fact that Doloros Umbridge can navigate society in such a way as to gain a position if importance in the Minisrptry of Magic and flourish in normal wizarding society while hiding her insidious psychopathic tendencies leaves her in an excellent position of power to inflict hurt to others. Her brand if evil is subtle and is not so obvious at a first glance which gives her the ability to "blend in" with others and yet she victimizes many in her wake, as she navigates through life. In Voldemort's case, his brand of evil is so obvious to everyone that he is an outcast of the wizarding community, which ultimately lessens the number of his potential victims to those simply standing in his way of power, while in Umbridge's case her victim pool is limitless die to her access to the community and all those she comes across.
So here is the moral question I have pondered for many years since reading this book for the first time. "Which Behavior Is More Evil?" Personally, I feel Dolores Umbridge is the much more evil of the two characters based upon the reasons given in the prior paragraph. Whether you agree or disagree with me is not the point. The point is to make you think and ponder for yourself. The fact that this book makes you think long after you've turned the last page, is a mark of literacy success. Whiter you've read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix once, or a hundred times, it is always a great novel to read again and again, and question what constitutes as evil.
Worse yet, not only has the Ministry turned on Harry, it has infiltrated his home base, Hogwarts. When Dumbledore can't find anyone to take on the jinxed Defense Against Dark Arts teaching position, the Ministry installs the cloyingly sweet and noxiously poisonous Delores Umbridge. Umbridge is my personal favorite villian in a series with a lot of baddies: she is maddeningly, gut-churninging, teeth-grindingly NASTY. I hate her. Harry hates her. Hermione hates her, teacher's pet though Hermione usually is. Even Minerva McGonagall, who has always been crisply polite (though occasionally cutting) to even the most incompetent fools (see Gilderoy Lockhart), hates Umbridge and cannot keep a civil tongue around her.
As the year progresses and the Ministry passes new laws to increase Umbridge's authority while undermining Dumbledore's, Umbridge strips joy from Harry's life wherever she can. She tortures him in detentions. She bans him from quidditch. She intercepts his mail and watches the fireplaces so he can't communicate with Sirius, the closest thing to family he's got. Eventually, she banishes those teachers who have always provided Harry with comfort and guidance.
Never has Harry been so alone, and this extreme isolation comes at the worst possible time. Harry has always been able to trust his instincts in the past, but now even his thoughts are untrustworthy. Not only is he full of the usual teenage angst and anger, but Voldemort may be able to infiltrate and influence Harry's mind. The Ministry is trying to convince the world that Harry is crazy and evil, and suddenly, deep down inside, Harry can't be certain that he isn't.
This is probably the darkest book in the series. It's early days in the war against Voldemort and the Death Eaters, and there are greater losses yet to come, but this is the book where Harry's faith in himself is at its nadir. Until his overcomes this crisis of confidence and learns to master his own mind, he cannot begin to fight the battles that will come.