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Order of the Phoenix

Finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at about 2 am last night. This is why I don't read before bed anymore: if I have a good book and I'm getting near the conclusion, it's very hard for me to put it down and go to sleep at a proper hour.

I'm still processing my opinion of it. Warning: spoilers beyond.

I no more think that Sirius is dead than I think that it rains peanut M&Ms. No body, kids, and likely still alive when he fell through that archway.

I was a little surprised by how dark this one got so early. Harry's forced self-mutilation by Dolores Umbridge was, I think, something I wouldn't want a child under the age of 9 reading unless I knew them to be an advanced, mature reader. Speaking of Umbridge, I did not feel she was adequately punished for her crimes, and the ending of the book felt a bit weaker because of that.

I liked that Ron joined the Quidditch team, and Ginny, too, in Harry's absence. I also liked how they've enriched Neville's role.

Harry's starting to feel a bit Rand Al'Thor-esque to me in certain respects.

I liked that James Potter was shown to be flawed, and that Harry's overly-idealized view of his parents was brought to a more realistic perspective. However, I felt that the learning of this information would have had more depth and meaning had it been used to bridge the gap a bit between Snape and Harry. I mean, they might not necessarily have become bosom buddies, but Snape at least understanding that Harry could see his side of things would have been much more interesting and preferable, in my opinion. Well, better than them just reverting to the "I hate you/I hate you, too" bit that's getting a little tired. They both deserve a bit more dynamic treatment.

Some folks have expressed that they hate the writing of Harry in this book. I'm still undecided about that. I mean, I can surely understand why he was so angry in so much of it.

When are they going to explain why Dumbledore doesn't give Snape the Defense of the Dark Arts position? I mean, if Dumbledore trusts Severus that much, it isn't making full sense to me.

I want to see Minerva McGonagall given the chance to kick some butt.

I liked that Lucius got busted, but I don't want to see Harry underestimating Draco. I think that boy's gonna be much more trouble than he's been.

J.K., I'm really bored with the whole S.P.E.W. thing. Give Hermione something better to do. I don't mind her being kind to the house elves, but there were segments with her going on about them that really didn't add anything useful to the book, the character, or the plot. A few little sentences are enough to keep that thread going without spending so much time on it.

The whole "Dumbledore's Army" bit felt a little X-Men-y to me.

More thoughts to come, possibly, but right now I need some lunch.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
mumpish
Jun. 4th, 2004 09:49 am (UTC)
It appears, on balance, that you liked it. I'm relieved.

Totally agreed about Sirius. He's not dead, he's resting. If he doesn't play a role in book 6 I'll be surprised, and utterly stunned if he's not in book 7. I don't know if you recall the interviews Rowling gave just before OotP came out, about writing the (then unspecified) death scene, and her yammering on about how she felt like a murderer, how deeply emotional it was, etc. I remember, when I got to Sirius' death, feeling really cheated. That's it? That's not a death. You want a death, have some balls, roll Sirius' head across the floor. Impale him on a nasty spike. Have an action hero say something witty in passing. Give it finality.

Personally, I like that the books are getting darker. It's also fitting, because Harry is growing up. He's 15 now; what 15-year-old do you know who isn't moody and conflicted? Now imagine that same 15-year-old with nascent god-like powers. Darker is the only plausible direction to take this story, and I approve. I also find it very interesting that Harry throws a death curse in this book, however ineffective it might be. Lame non-death scenes aside, she isn't afraid to take her characters in bold directions. And she did kill Cedric dead as a hammer, and with little ceremony.

I found your observation about Umbridge's (lack of) punishment interesting. It's totally consistent inside Rowling's world; 'justice' as we recognize it goes begging. I've felt from the very beginning that a theme of the books is that justice, to the extent that it exists, is very much hit-or-miss. Rowling makes the observation that both 'good' and 'evil' sides of a conflict will seek to protect their allies and pay little attention to rule of law - thus Dumbledore's indulgence of Harry and his friends is little different from the manipulations of Lucian. I believe the point of the books is that adherance to rules is overrated and totally incidental to the struggle of right vs wrong.

I think you'll see the Snape/Harry relationship continue to develop. She's gradually developed her more flat, cartoonish characters as she weaves the story. I'd also expect the Dursleys to undergo some revision, particularly Dudley.

Are you guys going to see Azkaban tonight?
pointedview
Jun. 4th, 2004 10:19 am (UTC)
Not only is Sirius resting, what happened to him is very similar to what happened to an important character in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. (I won't say which one, because I can't recall at the moment whether I've talked you into reading it, yet.) :)

I don't have a problem with the fact that the books are getting darker, I was just taken aback by how early in the book they went there. It was very clear that book 5 is the beginning of the end, the coming of shadows, as it were.

Agreed that the Cruciatus curse for Harry was interesting, and I wonder if it will be addressed in book 6.

I'm glad Cho seems to be done with for the time being. I don't know why, but her character always seemed rather blah to me -- as in, why the heck would Harry be interested in wallpaper?

I have more to say on Dumbledore, but want to talk more about HP in person.

Glad you asked about PoA, because I was just about to ask you.

I have no idea. I am bloody dying to see it, but this weekend is pretty jammed. I would be shocked if we could get tickets anywhere for tonight. Tomorrow, I have a dentist's appointment, and tomorrow evening, we're going to the Atlanta Symphony to see Howard Shore conduct Lord of the Rings. Sunday, David has to go see his dad because we're going to be out of town over Father's Day weekend. So, the weekend's kerfluffled.

Really want to see it with you both, but might have to check the schedule as to when we can do it. Besides the aforementioned, I know we are committed 6/8, 6/15, and will be out of town the 19th - 22nd.

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