Book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic, 2003
Genre: Fantasy, Reducto!
Source + Date Read: Own + Every Year since I received it in 2002 when I was 14 years old.
Recommend: BUT OF COURSE!
Book Pro’s: ALL THE FEELS!
Favourite Line: “Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
“Wit beyond measure is a man’s greatest treasure.”
“You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts…but you cannot deny he’s got style…”
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
“Don’t put your wand there, boy! … Better wizards than you have lost buttocks, you know!”
Obligatory Warning: This is going to be an incredibly biased review filled with unicorns, rainbows and magic. If you don’t like Harry Potter or want any spoilers, please, I beg you, click onto another post. I’m not good at censoring myself. It will also be filled with memes.
I was in 10th grade when I waited to get my hands on this book. I had been severely traumatized by the 4th book, The Goblet of Fire and was determined to inflict more pain on myself it would seem (why? Why????). I remember getting it and being so very excited about it’s size. My Aunt, having returned from another trip, gave it to me at 6:30PM on a Friday. I started to read, skipped dinner and all kind of food and drink. I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t even willing to stop for bathroom breaks, though at midnight my mom came into my room and demanded I at least take a shower. I kept reading though, in my cupboard with the light on (my parents couldn’t see that light from their room) till I finished it at 7:30AM, roughly 13 hours after I started. I still remember my father’s face as he walked in and saw me clutching the book, sobbing in a heap on my bed. He seriously thought something was wrong with me. My mom laughed, called it teenage angst but people, have you ever felt like you’d been killed, completely gutted at the hands of a hardback?
Funny enough, The Order of the Phoenix is my least favourite Harry Potter book. It’s definitely #7 in the Harry Potter rankings for me with Chamber of Secrets coming in at number 6. I haven’t quite figured out what is number 5, indeed it seems like the other books are all squished in 1 and these other 2 are in the bottom ranks.
The Order of the Phoenix grows with our young protagonist, exploring the range of emotions felt by an average teenager. Potter, is of course, not an average teenager so his emotional upheaval is particularly acute. He, also, experiences severe PTSD which causes a great deal of conflict in his personal and emotional relationships with other individuals. With The Dark Lord returned, danger is very much real and no longer a distant threat. The fear of violence, pain and anguish is never more present than in this book, which I see see as another transitional tome, much like the The Goblet of Fire. The Goblet of Fire wrenched our trio from childhood into adolescence very quickly, but the Order of the Phoenix all but shoves and kicks them into a tumulus adulthood.
World building is sacrificed for the greater advancement for the plot, which I don’t dislike, so don’t get me wrong there! I did find Harry’s angst a bit irksome, but that’s because I don’t like reading angst. I do, however, agree that his angst is well placed and reasoned. Rowling writes with a logic that I find amazing. The plot holes and random loops from book 2 and 3 are gone. As Rowling’s writing matures, so does the plot, world building and overall cohesion of the book. So why is this book on the bottom of the Harry Potter pile (which, by the way, is way, way wayyyy above most books. Being 7 on the Harry Potter Scale is beyond #1 for the average book)? One word: Umbridge. I won’t even elaborate on that and just let it rest there.
Once I got over that annoying Hogshead meeting chapter or that drama with Cho (I know why Rowling includes her bits, but how can they both be so utterly clueless as to the others actions?), I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am also going to say this: Ron grows up a heck lot in this book. I mean everyone does and I talk about Harry a bit because you see his pain a great deal more acutely than anyone else, but Ron seriously grows up. Why? Because Ron took a risk, he took a risk and didn’t do so well but slowly learned to overcome his fears. I think that takes mammoth growth, I know adults who shirk from risks and my dead Ron didn’t! Mammoth. Even Hermoine has learned to calm down (a bit) and be less controlling (a bit). What of our dear Ginny? Growing into a feisty woman. Or the inclusion of Luna (one of my favourite characters, so blunt and honest and brilliant) and her quirky ways. What really touches my heart is Neville’s expansion. He isn’t some doughy thing, there for comedic relief, he grows. Like into a seriously amazing person. I’d have been BFFs with Neville. Easily. I think it was good of Rowling to make him a major plot point, because him and Harry are not juxtaposed, two orphans bereft of love or close family, they make and shape their lives with the little they are given.
The reason I find this book so traumatizing is detailed in a few chapters actually (spoilers ahead). It almost feels like all that struggle and all that growth hastens just to reach a gut-wrenching conclusion: Sirius’ death. What got me though, and made me sob for hours as a teen and again for a good 30 minutes yesterday, was Harry running to Nearly Headless Nick, hoping and wishing that he had an opportunity to see his beloved godfather again. I cry because I know that in his situation, I’d do the exact same thing. I’d hope that they’d stay, but like Nick says, very few witches and wizards do stay.
And this is why I think the Order of the Phoenix is so successful, because you have to relate to Harry’s pain, his desperation and fear. He was burned by his own curiosity, his own love for Sirius and it tortures him. I can’t ever get the thought that my sister broke her arm because of me out of my head (and that happened when I was 12), so how then can Harry move on? How do you not crush yourself to bits? Rowling such a brilliant writer and as a major transitional book, the Order of the Phoenix whispers darkly of danger and evil to come, hastening your desire for the 6th book.
Read other Harry Potter posts.
Did you like the Order of the Phoenix?