Thursday, October 13, 2005

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

Author: J K Rowling
ISBN # 0747561079
766 pages

As Harry prepares himself for his fifth year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, he finds he’s more famous than ever following the results of the Triwizard event last year. Due to the attitude of Minister Fudge & the reporting of The Daily Prophet, there are many who think Potter is potty & Dumbledore is dotty – they simply do not believe that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named­ has returned. The Order of the Phoenix has been resurrected in response to the threat, but finds it must operate in secrecy. To add to the disruption, as the Ministry of Magic has seen fit to interfere in the very running of Hogwart's, teachers & students alike are now treading unsteady ground, as new laws are added on an almost daily basis to make things more & more difficult for Dumbledore & those loyal to him. To top it all off, Harry risks expulsion (again!) & has his exams coming up & this promises to be his most busy & stressful year yet!

Harry’s done a lot of growing up over the last four books & Phoenix sees him become more of a ‘normal’ teenager, complete with all the failings & insecurities that comes at that awkward age. He suffers petty jealousies, infatuations & the worry that he won’t do well enough in his exams to be able to follow the career path he’d like to take – that of an Auror. Seeing all these in Harry definitely makes this the easiest story in which to identify with our lead.

This story is darker, again, than its predecessors & reflects the more adult way in which Harry now views the world. Not only that, but he now no longer feels connected to either the wizarding world or the muggle world – he can no longer fully relate to either, as who else has seen what he has seen, done what he has done? How can anyone possibly understand how he feels? (It's the cry of every teenager in history!).

We also find out a little more about Harry’s family (how his parents were at his age, why the Dursleys actually agreed to take him in & why Professor Snape feels such utter hatred for him) & the revelations all seem set to make him change his views on everything he thought he knew. It’s time for some deep soul-searching for Harry & there is much going on to distract him.

New bonds are made & more loss is endured, but there’s an old saying: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” & this holds true here. Harry is being ably prepared to tackle a future that seems so unsure to anyone of that age – even if he does have a lot more on his plate than most teenagers.

Not quite as good, in my opinion, as Goblet of Fire, but we do get a little more of Sirius Black (a major bonus) in this one, although I felt that this time round, Black was painted as being a little more childish than I might have liked. Still, we also see the return of some other old favourites, which makes for a wonderful familiarity here. I get the feeling that Rowling is now speeding us along at break-neck speed towards a thrilling conclusion & I can hardly wait to get my teeth into Half-Blood Prince!

Rating: 7/10


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