A Reader posted a review at 2008-10-08 07:53:17.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix This is the fifth installment in J.K. Rowling’s seven-book Harry Potter series. At nearly 900 pages (and containing more words than the New Testament) Rowling’s latest endeavor remains true to her imaginative, unpredictable, Roald Dahlish style, but as Harry matures, so does the nature of the story.Though more protracted and perhaps less charming than the earliest books, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is nevertheless well-written and engaging. Less blatantly "spiritual" and more character-driven than the recent Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire, Phoenix is still dark from the outset, and families must still navigate all of the spells, sorcery and intense conflict inherent to the series. Written more for teens than tweens, Phoenix finds Harry increasingly sullen and angst-ridden as he faces trials of adolescence at Hogwarts. Parents who allow teens to read this book should be prepared to invest in it themselves. Spiritual snags will make it problematic for many Christian families.Picking up only four weeks after Harry’s bitter-sweet triumph over Voldemort in The Goblet of Fire, the story deviates from the excitement generally surrounding the start of a Hogwarts term. Harry is deeply angry at having been almost completely cut off from the magical world and stuck once more on Privet Drive. Reduced to hiding in the flower bed outside a window to hear any Muggle news which may reveal Voldemort’s actions or whereabouts, Harry’s anxiety is clear: Ongoing nightmares about his own torture and a schoolmate’s murder by Vodemort plague him, as do feelings of betrayal by his wizarding friends who have kept him in the dark throughout the summer.The oppressiveness of the blood sacrifice and murder in the last installment resurfaces here in an early Dementor attack on Harry and Dudley in which Harry is forced to use magic to save his cousin’s life. It’s a no-no to use spells outside of Hogwarts, so Harry gets called before the Ministry of Magic and risks being expelled and having his wand snapped. Along the way Harry becomes aware that he is not as forgotten as he thought, and has been the focus of protective efforts by The Order of the Phoenix.Harry is eventually reunited with the Weasley family, Hermione, and Sirius. And the youngsters begin to piece together the purpose of The Order of the Phoenix. Readers, meanwhile, begin to see how much Harry has changed through his experiences. No longer the unsure, humble boy of The Sorcerer’s Stone, this 15-year-old struggles with pride when he senses that the members of the Order don’t feel he’s ready to fight along with them. His anger and resentment of Dumbledore grows throughout the book as the Headmaster distances himself from Harry under confusing circumstances.Furthering the angst, both Ron and Hermione have become school prefects, somewhat breaking up the heroic threesome. And Harry realizes that he is once again the focus of much gossip, and that even some of his close friends do not believe his account of what happened with Voldemort and Cedric Diggory at the end of Goblet. The sociopolitical climate of the wizarding world has changed over the summer, and Dumbledore has come under great persecution for saying that Voldemort has returned, a fact that Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, adamantly denies.In between magical missions and battles, Harry spends his school days learning to relate to a girlfriend, handling his own pride when Ron begins to gain special honors, and finding out who he is apart from Quidditch, his parents and the professors who have guided him all his wizarding life. The story ends with a stunning, full revelation of a heretofore half-expressed prophecy. And Harry returns to Privet Drive with assurances that The Order of the Phoenix will be watching over him during holiday. ...