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Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix

J K Rowling

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Bloomsbury

Published : 2003

Copyright : J. K. Rowling 2003

ISBN-10 : HB 0-7475-5100-6
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-7475-5100-3

Publisher's Write-Up

Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses. "It is time," he said, "for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything."

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is desperate to get back to school and find out why his friends Ron and Hermione have been so secretive all summer. However, what Harry is about to discover in his new year at Hogwarts will turn his world upside down...

This is a gripping and electrifying novel, full of suspense, secrets and - of course - magic, from the incomparable J. K. Rowling.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Victim (170703) Rating (9/10)
Review by Chrissi (250603) Rating (7/10)

Review by Victim
Rating 9/10
Almost two years ago I began reading my first HP book. I had avoided them, partly because of the hype. Then as I was going on holiday, and being in a local supermarket, seeing two of them for a bargain price I thought sod it, and I bought them.

As I said, I was going on holiday about a week later, so I was collecting reading matter. Like an idiot I started the first one three days before going. I then read the second one too, and then went to the airport to catch the flight. This was not long after September 11th, so we had to be at the airport at a ridiculous time, so I happened to go into the WHS in the Airport, (actually I went just to get the next two HP books!)

The next two took something like three days to read. So obviously, since October 2001 I have been waiting for this one with anticipation. I got it on Saturday, but I decided to finish the collection that I was reading. Sunday afternoon, I started it, with interruptions for dinner, sleep (not a lot), inconsequential things like work, etc. I really did not want to put it down. This is an absolutely fantastic series, and it is getting darker!

In some ways, I wish I had never picked up the first. The waiting has been worth it, but only because it is so well done. I would like to be able to fast-forward to the day when they are all published and then start them all, from the beginning to end, without any of the waits. However I would then be regretting all of the years that I would have missed reading them - it is a bugger!

Please do not keep us waiting for so long for the continuations. The last lines roughly say "See you soon" - I hope.

9/10 - Too long a wait, but worth it…
Victim (17th July 2003)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
Right, before I start I am going to make it quite clear that I am not going to tell you who dies... it seems as though much has been made of this and while it is a dreadful thing to happen some good will probably come from it, so there.

As I am sure you are aware, this is Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and this is his most difficult yet. Harry is fifteen now, and seems to have traits more fitting to Kevin and Perry than the Harry that we have known for the last few years. He spends the summer holidays at home with the Dursleys trying to listen to the muggle television news looking for anything about the re-emergence of Voldemort, hoping that there will be something that could show other wizarding folk that he truly did see Voldemort at the end of the tri-wizard tournament.

Unfortunately Harry's relationship with the Dursleys has not improved, and after being banished from his position beneath the window, where he had been listening to the News, Harry goes for a walk feeling very hard-done-to and sees Dudley, whom he follows home. On the way, they meet Dementors, the gaolers of Azkaban, the Magical Prison, who have come to attack him (and Dudley too, because he is there). Harry drives away the Dementors with his stag patronus but when he and Dudley arrive home, with Dudley clearly the worse for his experience, Harry receives a letter from the Ministry of Magic summoning him to a Hearing regarding the underage use of magic.

Harry is desperately unhappy, attacked by Dementors, hounded by the Ministry of Magic and feeling left out by his friends Hermione and Ron, he retreats into what can only be called a teenage sulk. It did seem to me that that was pretty much where he stayed for the rest of the book. It has to be admitted that he has had rather more to deal with than most fifteen year olds and should be granted some leeway, but it is a wonder that he has not been carted off to a hospital for some heavy-duty psychiatric therapy.

The only good thing to come of all this is that Harry gets to spend the rest of his summer with Sirius, at his house, which he has donated as the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, although it needs some serious cleaning out of all the magical beings and ghastly artefacts left by his not very nice family. Least of the problems in the house is Kreacher the House Elf, a poor mad soul who hates his master but is bound to the family unless freed. Kreacher hates Sirius and his friends and would much rather be left alone with the portrait of Sirius' mother, a vicious hag who yells awful things about the people in the Order.

The Weasley family are at Sirius' house, and provide the nicest parts of the story, Fred and George, the irrepressible twins are still determined to open their joke shop and are using the money that Harry gave to them from his winnings of the Triwizard Tournament. They have a variety of weird and wonderful things that they are developing but their Mum still does not feel that a joke shop is an appropriate profession for her sons.

I have to say, the Weasleys are wonderful characters and give Harry some much-needed affection, but Harry is just too mired down in all that has happened to him to appreciate them. He spends much of the book either being angry or depressed, and I have to admit to a concern that JK Rowling will have problems bringing him back from this abyss that he has been written into.

It must be very difficult to write Harry growing up, but this book deals with it very well. Harry still likes Cho, the girl he asked to go to the Ball with him in the Goblet of Fire. She would appear to like him, too, but their relationship is somewhat strained by a mutual lack of knowledge about the opposite sex and the relationship they both had with Cedric, who was killed by Voldemort. Harry finds this all very difficult, but it does make for some light moments, when Harry finds that he cannot speak to Cho without embarrassing himself, or, as on the train to Hogwarts, she sees him covered in a noxious stuff from a plant given to Neville as a present from his Grandmother.

It was nice to see them all growing up, and I cannot think of another set of characters where we can see this transition. It makes them all so much more normal, in spite of their mystical talents. Something that makes this book rather different to the others is the number and range of new characters introduced. We get to meet the other members of the Order of the Phoenix, including Tonks, who I thought was great, she is able to change her appearance at will, giving herself pink hair is something that I would love to be able to do without all of palaver of dying the bathroom, a large number of towels and most of myself in the process.

We do not see much of Dumbledore in this book, although that is explained at the end of the book, and that much vaunted part of Dumbledore sitting Harry down and telling him that now "It is time... for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry... I am going to tell you everything" is actually right at the end, I hate to tell you this, but I was labouring under the mistaken impression that it was going to be relevant earlier in the story, but it just did not come about. It does, however, leave the way open for the next chapter of the story.

Speaking of stories, the main part of this book is about the Ministry of Magic, and how the Minister, Cornelius Fudge, and his cronies who do not want to believe that Voldemort is back, busy as they are feathering their own nests. The main protagonist in this story is not, as you may have expected, Voldemort, but Dolores Jane Umbridge, sidekick of Fudge intent on taking over Hogwarts. She is a vile creature who does not believe Harry when he says that Voldemort has returned, and she takes great pleasure in the discrediting of people who are supporters of Dumbledore. I get the feeling that JK Rowling must have had some bad experience with bureaucracy and has written out her anger in this character, because we too end up loathing her.

It cannot have been easy to write a series such as this and maintain the attention of the audience. I know so many people who are presently reading their way through this book, and I have to admit to being thrilled to find so many people who are enjoying reading at the moment. Nigel and I were among those who were at Tesco after midnight on the release date and we had to buy two copies otherwise someone would have had to wait for the other to finish, never mind that there was another copy going to another address which we would not have been able to collect until Monday - we just could not have waited that long... dreadful, isn't it?

I am rather concerned at the level of complexity of this book, it is rather more adult than many children are possibly expecting, and I wonder whether JK Rowling is preparing for a more adult following than has really been let on. I know that the Goblet of Fire was large but it was in a larger print size and Harry was still only fourteen so even though it dealt with darker issues, such as death, it still had leavening aspects where the story could be concentrated. I cannot say the same for this, this is really rather darker than I would be happy giving to a ten year old to read. I do think that the younger readers may struggle and be put off by the length of the book, but I would be more concerned about the dark subject matter and the sad ending. I think that kids could be quite disturbed by the ending because although it was not gory or gratuitous it is as a direct result of a series of actions taken by the characters and the feelings of guilt could be difficult for a younger child to understand.

I am sorry if it seems that I have voiced more of my misgivings of this book than I have the pleasures that I found inside it, but it is difficult to convey the effects without telling you why, and I really do not want to give away any more of the plot which would spoil any surprises which you may get, providing that someone has not told you the ending before you get to it, of course...
Chrissi (25th June 2003)

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