Welcome to my October post featuring Harry Potter! This month’s book is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I left this until the end of the month, again. And again I found myself absolutely swept up into the story. It only took me a few days to finish this 800+ novel. Excited to share some thoughts on this one.
To be honest, I usually describe this book as my least favorite in the series. Harry has a lot of teenage angst, and I really hate that Sirius dies. I don’t get why he had to die. I don’t get the curtain. I think Harry deserves one parent figure to live in his life. And I just love Sirius. But it definitely still has the magic and excitement of the series.
My first experience with this book – I was a teenager when this book was first published. And it was easily the longest book I hard read up to that point (in fact, it’s still up there!). I remember enjoying scenes when Harry could be with Sirius, laughing at how dumb Harry is with Cho, and finding the complexities of the prophecy fascinating. Of course, I hated Umbridge (still do). I wanted to be a part of the DA and learn to defend myself from dark wizards. This book really starts to hint at the bigger plot twists to come in the final books. I just didn’t have any idea they were coming when I read this the first time!
What surprised me this time – How long-winded this book can feel. It is the opposite of books 1-3. I don’t think it actually has to be almost 900 pages. Yes, you need several hundred to explain everything and have all the plot twists. But some things were too long or unnecessary. I was also surprised by how purely evil Dolores Umbridge is! I know she is bad but I forgot how bad. She is horrible! She hates the students and professors. She is incredible corrupt and she just keeps doing more and more ridiculous things. I got so mad when she suspended Harry from Quidditch and gave him detention writing lines in his own blood. Wow, can JK Rowling write a villian or what?
A few thoughts on genre – I was talking to my husband after reading this book and remarked that I wonder when Rowling knew how the whole series would end. It seems like she knows more details in this book. It’s the first time we hear about the prophecy about Harry and Voldemort–also the connection between them is further explained. We get hints of what Dumbledore wants to do to defeat Voldemort as well but the word horcrux is not used yet. I really do wonder when Rowling knew the full story. The darkness and evil continues to escalate in this book. Definitely not a book for young children. But what I love about these books is that good and light triumph over darkness and evil in the end.
Who I love most in this book – I adore Fred and George Weasley in this book. The ways they are building their business and the pranks they pull on Umbridge are amazing! I love that even though they act like they don’t care, they actually work really hard to pursue their dreams of opening a joke shop. Neville Longbottom surprised me this time and was a really intriguing character. I really like seeing more of his background when Harry, Ron and Hermione meet him at the hospital. And I love the way he improves in the DA and his heroics in the Department of Mysteries. Luna Lovegood is just a fantastic character and is acted perfectly in the movies. She is quirky and weird and doesn’t care. Love her. I love Tonks as well. She is carefree and brave in this book. So much changes for her later. Wish I had a friend like her. And of course, Sirius. He goes through so much in life, but he manages to keep supporting Harry even until the end.
How I see Harry, Ron, and Hermione changing – Harry is starting to understand his role in the war against Voldemort more clearly. He is growing up fast but also still is such a teenager in this book. I must admit, I got annoyed at his short temper and the easy way Voldemort tricks him into going to the Ministry of Magic. But I also felt so sad for him when he loses Sirius (I hate his death!!) and must continue on alone. Ron goes on a neat journey in this book. He is finally picked for something Harry isn’t–school prefect and he gets to be the Quidditch hero without Harry. I love that he is loyal and brave and still a bit awkward. Hermione is the glue that keeps everything going in this series. Seriously, it’s her idea to start the DA, she has an incredible ability to remember everything she’s ever read, and she starts seeing that the world is bigger than grades and tests. She is my favorite character in this book.
What I learn from this book – Honest communication is always better than no communication. Dumbledore tries to protect Harry by not telling him about the prophecy and distancing himself throughout the year. But it ends quite badly. Snape and Harry never really work together to help Harry learn Occlumency leading Harry to try to save Sirius. Someone else should have taught Harry. Fudge and Umbridge try to hide the fact that Voldemort has returned and end up looking ridiculous when they are proved wrong. The list goes on. Love is a great weapon against evil. I love (no pun intended) that love keeps coming up in this series as such a powerful and essential tool to fight evil. Harry’s mother protects him with her love. The Dursleys’ home is also protected by it. And Voldemort cannot possess Harry for long because Harry thinks of Sirius. Love is what saves them all.
How I would teach this book in a class – I would love to have a discussion or perhaps a debate about the ways the Ministry of Magic vs Dumbledore react to the news that Voldemort has returned. Comparing their reactions and arguing why either is best would be interesting. I would also enjoy having students write a comparison essay of Sirius compared to Harry in this book. In many ways, they experience similar emotions and conversations. How are they similar? How are they different? Because we are getting further in the series, I would also like to discuss the themes that are arching over the full series–light vs darkness, good vs evil, friendship and love, power and destruction. Also would be interesting to discuss the changes in a character through the first 5 books. Harry is an obvious choice, but what about Neville, Ginny, or Professor McGonagall? How have they changed and developed?
I’m going to need a wall dedicated just to Harry Potter quotes in my dream house. So many great ones in this one like the others!
I enjoying this book more than I expected to this time around. But I still think it’s a bit lower on my favorites list. I just can’t get over Sirius dying. Can’t wait to read 6 in November!
What do you think of The Order of the Phoenix?
Which is your favorite Harry Potter book?