Book Review – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (HP5)
JK Rowling
US version Hardback – 2003

There is something especially quaint (ahem) about checking a children’s book out of the library that is so big and heavy you almost need somebody to carry it for you. But alas, here is the longest of the HP novels. Especially when there’s very little content in the book to talk about (side note – this is the shortest movie of all 8, which is saying something since its the longest book at 870 pages [US version]).

For Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts, the book starts out with Harry and his useless cow-of-a-cousin Dudley walking down the street when Dementors attack them just around the block from Privet Drive. He’s whisked away by a group of magical people that he knows mostly from school to the super-secret hideout of the Order of the Phoenix – Sirius’s house – where he discovers that he’s been watched all summer long, and of course his friends know more than he does.

We get to learn a bit about the Order, courtesy of Fred and George (or is it George and Fred?)’s magic ears invention, a bit about the Black Family courtesy of Kreatcher, a particularly annoying house elf, and the Black Family Tapestry – complete with shrieking Mother of Sirius, and more than a bit about the Ministry of Magic and Albus Dumbledore courtesy of Harry’s visit to the ministry on the matter of having called forth a patronus to get rid of the dementors trying to kill his cousin.

He should have let Dudley die, just sayin’.
Also, the ministry is corrupt, but we already knew that.
Oh, and Harry *must* be lying because there’s no way that dementors are out and causing trouble because Don’t-Say-Voldemort can’t *possibly* be doing anything whatsoever. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

The kids go back to Hogwarts just in time to find out that they’ll have to take their OWLs at the end of the year, and for all hell to break loose at the hands of one Dolores Umbridge. We have a lot of her being cross and Harry getting in trouble – to the point that he’s banned from Quiddich forever. After all, he’s just a little freak who makes up stories.

Hermione still goes on about her stupid SPEW campaign (seriously, NONE of my friends like the SPEW story lines).
Umbridge’s insistance that you can learn defense THEORY and never practice it and be able to save yourself is not what the students want to hear, and so Harry and his friends start their DA practices (Dumbledore’s Army, which is a stupid title, but right up the alley of what a young teenager would come up with) in the Room of Requirement, which Dobby points out to them.

Oh, and Harry starts having bad dreams that aren’t dreams but a super-special connection with Voldemort and he gets to see what’s happening as it happens. Which means he then gets to train with Snape, who he of course doesn’t trust, to close his brain off to those attacks.

Ron’s Dad gets attacked, we learn about Longbottom’s parents, and meet Luna Lovegood.

Oh, and we spend way too much freakin’ time at the Ministry of Magic where we learn all kinds of things and fight the powers of evil. Also, Harry’s godfather, who he’s barely just had in his life, dies. But we sort of expected that because nothing good ever happens to Harry.

And love. LOVE is the reason why Harry goes back to being abused at Privet drive once a year.

*sigh* I’m bored writing this review. Which is sort of telling because, you know, I was bored reading the book. For the most part, NOTHING HAPPENS, and even though stuff happens, there’s not that much that happens, and there are seventy bajillion words in this book that we have to suffer through for very little. You could almost skip the book and be happy with yourself.
Also, I don’t like comparing these to the movies, but I’m going to for a short sec – all the emphasis on “educational decrees” and all that crap and there are only like four of them in the whole book. As opposed to the movies which have them hand over fist. It’s really weird.
I was annoyed with Hagrid’s giant brother, but the more I read, the more I’m annoyed with a lot of Hagrid’s story lines anyway. He’s not a bumbling idiot, but the more Rowling wrote him, the more he became a caricature of himself. I love Hagrid in, say, the first three books, but I’m starting to think that giving him the same stuff time and time again is getting old.
While the room of prophecies is kind of cool, having to slough through descriptions of half the damn BUILDING for the Ministry got old, too. Yeah, some of them were neat (I did love the fountain), but really. I haven’t complained yet about Rowling having a copy editor and not a content editor, but I should. Because, seriously, there’s like three pages in this book about Harry getting in a phone booth and talking into the receiver.

Really, the only things that happen in this book are: 1. OWLs, 2. DA, 3. Oh, Look, Voldemort’s back (which we’ve known for five books now, thanks), 4. Cho is cute, 5. Sirius dies. There you go.

So, when I say “book 5” to my friends, you get a table full of full-grown women complaining about how much they hated this book and how stupid it was and whatever else. I can’t put my finger on why, but I agree with them for a few reasons. Boring, like I said, unnecessarily long, like I said, and seriously, you really could skip it and continue with the series no problem. And because of *that* I’m giving it a 2/5. This book could be 200 pages and you’d get everything out of it you need to. So skip it if you don’t care that much, and certainly the only reason you’d need to read it is if you’re hell-bent on reading the entire series.

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