Book Review #3: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book Synopsis

As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief...or will it?

Sharon's Rating

Sharon's Review

This is the fifth and most ambitious book in the series. The Order of the Phoenix is an organization led by Professor Dumbledore, that fought Lord Voldemort when he was at full power, before Harry was born. It was disbanded when Voldemort lost most of his power trying to kill Harry at one year old. Now that Voldemort is back, the Order has been reestablished, using Sirius Black's family home as its headquarters. Harry is attacked by dementors during the summer while he's at the Dursleys, so he has to be transferred to the Order's headquarters for his own safety.

The plot line has become much more diversified and intricate than any of the previous Harry Potter instalments. Many new characters are introduced, and some of them are almost as evil as Voldemort. Previously peripheral characters have become much more developed. Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and the rest of Ron's family become main characters as they band together to oppose Voldemort. Some of Harry's family background is revealed. Treacher, the Black family's old house elf, provides comic relief as he complains about strangers in his master's house. Some of his antics are quite funny – until he turns treacherous.

Hogwarts is turned upside down as Dumbledore is temporarily forced to leave the school in the hands of a nasty toad-like woman called Dolores Umbridge. While he is away, a group of students led by Harry, get together to learn how to defend themselves against the looming threat of Voldemort as he gains power. There is a good deal of amusing antics that go on at the school, but there's still a core of darkness over all, as the age old battle of good versus evil rages on. The story is so intricately woven, that even adults might have trouble keeping track of everything that's going on.

It has become more of an advanced reader, or adult book by this time. The theme is more mature, and there is a stronger focus on adult characters, than in the first four. In the Order of the Phoenix, someone else dies – a loved one by many. The media frenzy over this death was immense. I think perhaps that because the series started out as a children's book that the death of a loved character came as too much of a shock for young children. I agree with that. However, as adult, I can deal with it. I loved this book!

Disclaimer: May not be appropriate for young children due to violence. There is enough death and violence that would be disturbing to children under ten.