Harry Potter - a fantasy classic.
By The Literary Phoenix
Confession: I like some Harry Potter books better than others. I have read Prisoner of Azkaban a couple dozen times. … I have read Order of the Phoenix three times. First, when it came out. Second, right before the movie came out. Third, this time. This time was by far the best, and for one glaring reason: CAPSLOCK!Harry is a lot more tolerable when you can’t see all the angry capital letters. There are aspects of OotP that are so cool, and the cast of characters is great, but this is still my least favorite in the series. That said? Still four stars.
Considering the fact that OotP introduces Luna Lovegood, who is one of my favorite characters in the series, you’d think that this would get a star. Considering how perfectly unlikable Umbridge is, and how well-written she is, you’d think this would get a star. Fact of the matter is, most of the characters in this book are really good… but Harry. Harry Potter is the most frustrating, angry, selfish kid. I get that he’s gone through a lot, and I have to give so many props to Ron and Hermione for putting up with him. I dislike Harry so much in this book that it took it down a star for me.
The world of Harry Potter continues to enchant. In as far as setting goes, OotP is one of my favorites, because we get to explore a new corner of the world in the Ministry of Magic. I love the Department of Mysteries and I feel like there are so many possibilities and stories within the objects the friends come across. You also really get the feeling that they’ve only begun to brush the surface. If there was a series that followed a Department of Mysteries employee, I would absolutely read it.
A bit of a mini-rant here – most of the Department of Mysteries was cut from the film version of this book and while I generally like the movie quite a lot, I think the loss of that magic does the story a disservice.
The breakdown of the wizarding government and Hogwarts staff is essential to transition the wizarding world into this new, darker shade. For what it is, it’s done very well, developing characters and showing the true colors of people. Rowling has a theme to her plots where the ultimate endgame in all of them is “stop Voldemort” (excepting Prisoner of Azkaban) and even though it’s been used, we look forward to it. Of particular interest this time is that Harry doesn’t go in alone and play the hero. SPOILERS! I really, really love that Neville is the last man standing with Harry in the showdown in the Department of Mysteries. Despite all odds, we finally get to see what this character is made of, and we see a sampling of what ultimately becomes book seven.
As much as CAPSLOCK!Harry bothers me, he actually makes perfect sense and the stylistic choices in this book were good ones to suit the characters. As a narrator, Jim Dale also continues to do an excellent job. I have a bit of a pet peeve with his female voices (I mentioned this in the SS/PS review with Hermione), and I’m not crazy about Luna’s and Bellatrix’s, but I have a suspicion that I will get used to them. I sympathize – there’s only so many female voices a male reader can do, and I can always tell who is talking… he doesn’t use them twice.
Actually, I’m going to give extra props to Jim Dale on his reading, because I am simultaneously listening to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which he also narrates. Between the two different books the voices still all feel different. He masterfully uses tone and accent to differentiate between people. Ten points to Gryffindor!
This books is a series of extremes for me. I really don’t like Harry. I really love Fred and George. I really find it frustrating that Harry forgot about that incredibly useful mirror the entire story that could have fixed everything but he doesn’t even realize that. I love that Umbridge is a pink-cardigan, kitty cat plate villain everyone loves to hate. The two merge together to make a pretty good book, but it comes up short compared to the rest of the series.
Fred and George’s war against Umbridge is one of my favorite parts of the entire series, so it gets props for that as well.