Published by Scholastic Inc. on August 10th 2004
Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...
Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.
What? I’m only giving Order of the Phoenix a 3.5? HOOOOOW? I know, sacrilege right? But first let me point out that 3.5 isn’t that bad and I have plenty of reasons.
When I first read this book as a kid, I think I was in middle school, it was like the pinnacle of literature. Rowling was my goddess and I worshipped at her feet. Really, I still do, but as an adult I am now able to see some more of the flaws that I overlooked as a child. This book has probably the most obvious of these: teenage Harry is unpleasant.
Think about it, how much page time of ORDER OF THE PHOENIX is spent with ALL CAPS Harry shouting at someone in full rage mode. Have you seen some of the pages of OoTP? The fandom literally refers to him as ALL CAPS Harry. That’s not something I made up. Teenagers certainly have a tendency towards the moody and angsty at this age, I won’t deny it, but for Harry it is so much of his make up during the book that other character traits are shoved aside in favor of an angst fest. It’s a little…shallow in its interpretation.
Now as far as the rest of the book is concerned, it really is one of the best stories plotwise. Umbridge is the best villain, maybe even more so than Voldemort. She’s vindictive, hateful, and all while wearing her saccharine smile. She’s the character EVERYONE loves to hate and her punishments are positively medieval.
The plot of this book is complicated and winding, probably why it tops out as the largest books in the series at 870 pages. If the way I read it the first time, cover to cover nonstop from midnight to noon the day of release, is any indication, it is entirely engaging. But as an adult some of the irritation at ALL CAPS Harry puts a damper on that, making me grumble every time he has a freak out.
And now we come to the version I read this time, or in this case, listened to. Since I was little I have been listening to Jim Dale’s renditions of the Harry Potter audiobooks. He is the best at what he does and his voices have now become the character’s voices in my head. OotP is no different. Even when dealing with ALL CAPS Harry, Dale gives him some of the characters in the voice that I felt like he missed when he spent half the book yelling at everyone. He makes the sad moment heartbreaking, the happy ones jubilant. And yes, he kicks Stephen Fry’s ass as a narrator. What, I said it.
I still like this book, despite the teenage angst. Happily, this phase does seem to peter out and we get back to the character so beloved for the last two books. I guess in ALL CAPS Harry I see the jerk he could become (and kind of does in Cursed Child if you consider that to be canon). That’s not what he is to me. Harry is the embodiment of love.
What is your favorite Potter book? Share in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,