Re-Reading Harry Potter 5# The Order of the Phoenix
So I'm still working my way through the Harry Potters, currently coming to the end of 6 - so sadly I didn't get there before Cursed Child (review for that coming soon!) Still I'm enjoying them as ever, and now I don't have to rush so much anyway. I have a weird relationship with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. First time I read it I was a tiny bit disappointed - up until that point the books, for me, had just been getting better and better. Then we had the biggest wait ever after Goblet of Fire, punctured by the excitement of the first film, and the release of Fantastic Beasts and Quidditch through the Ages. Order of the Phoenix was the first time I queued outside a bookshop at midnight, it was bigger than the rest put together and it promised massive things - Voldemort was back, it was all going to be so different.... I think all that anticipation was a big part of the problem.
Book Five was good, and every time I've re-read I've enjoyed it more and more - it may even be one of my favourites now. But technically, I still think it's one of the weaker instalments in the series. J.K Rowling herself says it could have done with a good edit, and I reckon the plot isn't as tight as in her other books. It rambles a bit, and all that stuff about the weapon (what was that then? The prophecy? Why did anyone ever call it a weapon in the first place?) makes very little sense. Grawp is a plot that goes nowhere and the whole end section gets a bit mental and confused, particularly the bit in the department of mysteries. At the time though, my main concern was HARRY'S NEED TO SHOUT ALL THE TIME and embarrass himself. I was so relieved when the sixth one came out and he seemed to have got over the worst of his teenage angst/post-traumatic stress/semi-possession by Voldemort. It was tiring there for a while. All this aside, I do love Order of Phoenix, there are so many great moments, new characters and developments.
New thoughts this time:
I'm much more on Harry's side this re-read. I always thought he was kind of a brat in this one, but he's actually not (although he's so dumb at the end - what exactly did he think six teenagers could do on their own against Voldemort and the Death Eaters??) Dumbledore makes my blood boil. Going to tell him everything are you Albus? Nah, just go ahead and leave out the most important part, where you're raising him like a pig for slaughter (as Snape so eloquently put it). And why does Dumbledore think occlumency lessons with Snape would ever end well? Even if he couldn't teach him, I'm sure McGonagall could manage it. And he should have dealt with the Sirius situation better, supported him more, not just left him to stew in his childhood bedroom where he'd been so unhappy. I was never the biggest fan of Sirius, but I feel for the poor man. He's like a kid, particularly in this one where it's almost like he's regressed to his teenage self. Harry's the more mature of the two, which is bizarre. All the Marauders had pretty awful lives (except maybe James) and I wish She'd let at least one of them be happy. My other gripe - which is intensified having seen Cursed Child - is that this book makes me think that Harry chose the wrong career path after Hogwarts. Seriously, he should have been a teacher. Most of the influential people in his life were teachers and the DA proves he's good at it. But more than anything, it makes him happy. The DA is the main thing that keeps him going through the Umbridge period, and it's sweet how proud and pleased he is to watch his 'students' improving. Plus, Hogwarts is the only place he's ever really called home and once Voldemort's gone there'll be a spot for a full time Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher...
Another thing that struck me this time round was Ginny. I always thought Ginny had a bit of a personality transplant in book 6 - suddenly good at quidditch, popular, outgoing etc. But it's not sudden at all. Ginny is almost at that stage in Order of the Phoenix - and the change in her is explained by her choice to move on from Harry and see other people. As he says 'so that's why she talks now' in front of him. The inference is that Ginny's always been this person, but because we see things from Harry's point of view we only see this side of Ginny when he sees it. I also think that's why we don't notice her change so much in book five - Harry's still focused on Cho, so he doesn't see her as a potential love interest, and so neither do we.
Favourite forgotten moment:
At the very end, I'd forgotten how some of the Order go and threaten the Dursleys to make sure they'll be nicer to Harry next summer. I love that. Also Ron's reaction when he finds out Hermione is still in touch with Viktor Krum.
My absolute favourite bit - which I love in the film as well - is after Harry and Cho's kiss where he tells Ron and Hermione, and their reactions. I love all the stuff with the DA, all the bits with the Order at the beginning, and Harry's career advice with Professor McGonagall. I like getting to know Sirius a bit better (not that it lasts...) and being introduced to the gem that is Luna Lovegood. Oh, and when they bump into Lockhart in St. Mungos.
She was looking at Harry as she had never looked at him before. And all of a sudden, for the first time in his life, Harry fully appreciated that Aunt Petunia was his mother's sister. He could not have said why it hit him so very powerfully at this moment. All he knew was that he was not the only person in the room who had an inkling of what Lord Voldemort being back might mean.
"Hello, Harry," said George, beaming at him. "We thought we heard your dulcet tones."
"You don't want to bottle up your anger like that, Harry, let it all out," said Fred, also beaming. "There might be a couple of people fifty miles away who didn't hear you."
"Good luck, Ron," said Hermione, standing on tiptoe and kissing him on the cheek. "And you Harry -"
Ron seemed to come to himself slightly as they walked back across the great hall. He touched the spot on his face where Hermione had kissed him, looking puzzled, as though he was not quite sure what had just happened.
"I'm terribly sorry to have to contradict you, Minerva, but as you will see from my note, Harry has been achieving very poor results in his classes with me - "
"I should have made my meaning plainer," said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. "He has achieved high marks in all Defence Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher."
What do you think of Order of the Phoenix? Is it one of your favourites? Any favourite bits?