Saturday, August 29, 2009

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

The first four books down, Luke Reviews finally ventures into uncharted territory (after a minor delay due to a prolonged move). I finally have moved to the first Harry Potter book that I had not read previously. The shock of reading the book without knowing how it was to end was odd at first, but very gripping, and expressed the power of Rowling’s stories. No matter what one thinks of the general quality of the writing, the story has the power to effect people on the first time, as well as the second.

In the fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is back yet again at the Dursley’s, and he is possessed by an irritating anger at the world that seems to come out of nowhere. Yet, with a sudden thrust of his magic life upon his “normal” one, dementors turn up in his neighborhood, and precipitate an attack on Harry and his cousin. After a narrow escape, Harry is fled to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a secretive group headed by Dumbledore with the sole goal of stopping Voldemort. Many familiar faces turn up, from Harry’s friends Ron and Hermione, to Sirius, Mad-Eye Moody, and Lupin.

The Ministry of Magic begins to play a more important role, as it struggles to deny Voldemort’s return, and stop Harry from spreading “lies”. They go so far as to place a subversive new teacher at Hogwarts, who thwarts and attacks Harry and company from every angle. Nowhere is safe, and Harry has to fight both Voldemort and the Ministry to save the day. A tragic loss undermines the heroes, and things really ramp up for the next two books in the series.

Rowling seemed to fill Harry with a deep anger throughout the book that was rather irritating, but the rest of her character interaction was spot on. She goes from new friendships to budding relationships with aplomb, capturing the mixed emotions of both, all while maintaining the conflict between Harry and the Ministry, which plays a prominent role in this novel as Voldemort takes the back seat for extending periods of the novel. All in all, the new book does a great job of bringing the series back to a high level of excitement, and really leaves some dark hints for the future.


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