Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Book Review

First off let me say that I've never written a book review before, so bear with me. Also, after the dotted line below there are major, major spoilers, so if you haven't read the books yet and don't want to know what's going to happen, stop reading at the dotted line! I've been a fan of the Harry Potter books since the summer of 1999, right before book 4 came out. I happened to buy the first book at a train station in New York and I couldn't put it down. After I finished it, I immediately ran out and bought the next two, and then waited anxiously for the fourth one. And now, 4 years later, book five has finally arrived.

Clocking in at 870 pages, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series and arguably the most action-packed. My favorite is still book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but book five keeps the tradition going strong. It answers a lot of questions from the series, and leaves open a lot more questions that will hopefully be answered in the next two books. We get to see old characters reappear, we get to meet characters we've only heard about before, and we get a whole set of new characters, each written so well you can see them in your mind immediately. The book starts off in the time right after the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and as always, follows Harry and his friends through their school year. Harry is now 15, a bit older, a bit wiser and bit more headstrong and obstinate. Then again, aren't all 15 year olds? The best thing about this series is that unlike other series of books (for some reason the Hardy Boys books come to mind), the characters actually do grow up and change with age, instead of being the same, happy, simple people we met in the original Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The book is faithful to the others by taking things that happened in the previous books and using them to help the characters learn and understand from their successes and their mistakes, and using that knowledge to help others (which is a major story line in this book).

I can mention some plot points without runing anything. The Ministry of Magic is worried that Dumbledore is trying to take over the Ministry for himself, so they're doing everything in their power to discredit not only him, but Harry as well. They go so far as to put one of their own inside the school and she slowly but surely takes more and more power for herself. Lord Voldemort is looking for something, some kind of special item that everyone is afraid will give him the power to finally bring him back to the supreme being he was before he met Harry. And that's pretty much all I'm going to say in this upper portion of the review. If you must know more, keep reading below.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is another amazing book in the series and well worth the price of admission. It took me close to 12 hours (with breaks) to read as I couldn't bear the thought of putting it down for too long. If you haven't read any of the books, well, what's wrong with you? Go out right now and buy all five of them and sit down and read! I figure all five books read non-stop will take you anywhere from 36-48 hours, so what are you waiting for?

Favorite Quote #1:
"Wasn' room ter swing a kneazle."
- Hagrid (page 433)


You've been warned... if you don't want to know what happens in the book, STOP READING, because I'm going to go into serious details here...

Obviously the major story in this book deals with Voldemort still trying to kill Harry. For four books we all thought that he wanted Harry dead because Harry was able to stop him for seemingly no reason, and Voldemort wanted revenge. But as we find out here in book five, there's a lot more to it. It turns out that before Harry was born, there was a prophecy that someone born in the seventh month would have the power to kill the Dark Lord. Two children fit that bill; Harry and Neville Longbottom. Voldemort went to Harry's house to try and kill Harry so the prophecy wouldn't come true, but it backfired. What Voldemort didn't know what the last half of the prophecy which said that the one who could kill him would bear his mark, and become his equal. The prophecy also states that in the end, only one of them will survive. Book 5 is all about Voldemort, trying to get the full prophecy so he can understand its total application. But the only way he can get it without being seen, it to trick Harry into getting it for him. And when Harry falls for it, it leads to the biggest battle yet in the series of books, and the death of someone Harry cares for deeply. And no, I won't say who it is, because even with the spoiler warning, this one is too big to give up.

Let's talk about the love stories in the book. Harry and Cho Chang have had this flirtation thing going for a couple of books, but Cho went out with Cedric in the last book. As we all know, Cedric was killed by the Dark Lord and Cho is full of mixed emotions. She doesn't want to hurt Cedric's memory, but she's also attracted to Harry. Unfortunately, Harry still has no idea what goes on in women's heads, so their relationship takes a couple of steps forward before taking a dozen steps back. The burgeoning romance between Hermione and Ron isn't touched on much, just one or two very brief asides. In fact, the person who has the best and longest relationship in the book is probably Ginny Weasley. She's one of two characters (the other being Neville), that really grew up a lot in this book. She's full of fire and ready to do anything and everything. I'm really starting to like her character and wonder if it's possible she and Harry end up together at the end.

A lot of characters come back for this one. Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Mad-Eye Moody, people we knew we'd see again all come back. But there are a couple of surprises, like Gilderoy Lockhart, who we haven't seen or heard from since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets makes a surprise return, albeit a short one. And, we finally get to not only meet Neville's grandmother, but his parents, who we found out previously were tortured by a follower of Voldemort, and left insane. The only person who knew about that was Harry, but now Hermione and Ron also know. We also get to meet a few new characters, like Luna Lovegood, a hippie-chick girl who may or may not be able to see things no one else can. And like her name suggests, she might end up having a thing for Harry as well. My favorite new character is probably Tonks, an Auror who is part of the Order of the Phoenix and has the amazing ability to change shape.

Favorite Quote #2:
"If you shout his name I will curse you into oblivion."
- Tonks (page 524)

And what is the Order of the Phoenix? It's a group of witches and wizards that came together when Voldemort first came to power, determined to stop him. And now, they're back to try and stop him again. Only this time, the Ministry of Magic, let by Cornelius Fudge, doesn't believe Voldemort is back, so they've been discrediting Dumbledore and Harry at all times. Remember that Harry was the only person (besides Voldemort's Death Eaters) to see Voldemort in the last book. All everyone else saw was him reappear on school grounds with the dead Cedric Diggory. Everyone else heard a story and while some believed Harry, others thought he was just looking for attention. So to say you were agreeing with Dumbledore meant that you were against the Ministry of Magic, and Fudge could not bear that thought. In another major plot line, Fudge puts one of his own in Hogwarts as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Dolores Jane Umbridge. She becomes one of those characters you totally can not stand. Unlike Snape, who you don't like and yet know there's something good about him, Umbridge is a horrible, horrible person throughout. She gives herself more and more power as the story goes; stopping students from having clubs, kicking Harry off the Quidditch team, making him do lines in his own blood. There is truly no good inside of her and her comeuppance is completely deserved.

There are a lot of things happening in this book. Why does Dumbledore continually ignore Harry? What is up with all those dreams Harry has about a hallway? How in the world does Ron become the Quidditch Keeper? What are those creatures that only Harry, Luna and Neville can see? Whose side is Sirius's house-elf on? And there are a ton more questions that I'll leave for you to read about. All in all, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is another fantasic ride and I'm extremely happy. Yes, I still think Harry, for all the knowledge he has and all that he's done, still has a short temper and doesn't trust the people closest to him as much as he should, but as one of the old headmasters on the wall says, at that age, kids think they know it all. Go get the books!

Sorcerer's Stone

Chamber of Secrets

Prisoner of Azkaban

Goblet of Fire

Order of the Phoenix

© 2003 Wolfpack Productions