I know, I know: it’s been a while since I’ve posted! I don’t suddenly hate the series, I promise. Turns out moving house gets in the way of writing. But I’ve finished the Order of the Phoenix, and in between an awesome villain, great new locations like the Ministry of Magic, cool new creatures (I love Thestrals!) and some epic scenes, I think this was my favourite book behind the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I started the book rather apprehensively. I’ve said it before: anything to do with the Dursleys bores me. They have the same problem as Draco for me, in that they feel more like an annoyance rather than a serious threat. But then soon enough Lupin came back, and made the introduction of the book SO MUCH BETTER. Seeing so many old characters return in this entry was really nice – even that little cameo from Rita Skeeter later in the book made me smile and I found I didn’t hate her as much as I did before – probably because she paled in comparison to Umbridge who I’ll speak about later.
The Order of the Phoenix itself was a cool idea, (I opened the book thinking it was going to be an elite league of Death Eaters, so was pleasantly surprised The Order was a good thing). It gave me all sorts of Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes: The Order were The Scoobies, and Grimauld Place was The Magic Box. Our heroes finally have a base, YAAAS! I’m realising I’m starting to get very attached to some of these characters – I think I might be becoming a fan…
The Weasleys have fast become my favourite magical family. Molly is an absolute cutie of a Mum, and I felt so sorry for her when the Boggart was shape-shifting and showing her family dead. Ginny has her funny moments, and Ron getting a prefect badge made me swoon a little bit for him. Throughout the entire book I was getting more and more scared Rowling was setting up Arthur Weasley to die – the Weasleys just seem like the loveliest family and I was suspicious that was being made clear just for it to be turned on its head. Chapters like the one where the Weasleys sat together worried about their father after Voldemort’s snake attacked him were made up of fantastic writing and felt a world away from the rather light-hearted tone of The Philosopher’s Stone.
Fred & George’s exit from Hogwarts was incredible, and I can’t wait to see where they go next. I really can’t believe how much this family has grown on me since I started the series! Remember me saying I didn’t like them in my first entry? Ha! Please don’t do anything to them Rowling. <Gulp>.
Dumbledore was another character I continued to love. But really, is there anyone out there who didn’t enjoy Dumbledore in these books? Besides his irritating lack of communication with Harry, which I’ll come to soon, he’s just so effortlessly commanding. He is the Beyoncé of the Wizarding World, and Voldemort is a very pissed off Michelle Williams. Need yourself defending in a court case? Dumbledore’s got you. Ned to open a casual can of whoop-ass on a group of Death Eaters? He’s your man. Can’t pop the lid off that jar in your cupboard? Dumbledore. He always saves the day!
However, I really don’t understand why he didn’t tell Harry the prophecy much sooner about him having to either kill or be killed by Voldemort. He could have saved us so much time and confusion by simply being open about everything. He says he was afraid of messages sent via owls being intercepted – has the man not heard of WhatsApp?! At least he admitted it was a mistake.
I’m guessing Luna Lovegood is a popular character, too? I thought for a moment she was a love-interest for Harry or Ron, and to be honest I can’t quite figure out what her purpose was in the book beyond getting her dad to publish a story on Harry… But for the time being it seems she’s just a new character for the sake of it? She’s quirky and fun, so I’m not complaining too much.
I have similar feelings towards Cho Chang. What was the point in her? I wondered if she was going to be put in mortal danger, or turn out to be a death eater, but she kind of just… Fizzled out. She didn’t feel right for Harry from the very beginning (no one does, really), and time spent with her just felt wasted when I could have been learning backstory about other more interesting characters. Can anyone shed some light on Cho? Or will she be back later?
Now let’s get on to someone who I obviously have to talk about… Dolores Umbridge. Ugh. If there’s one thing Rowling is good at, it’s writing characters you can hate (Lockhart, Rita Skeeter, etc.) I would have paid a small fortune to be able to reach through this book and give Umbridge a shove. Of course she was going to be evil, as soon as she was introduced as a Dark Arts teacher I knew that much. She was infuriating, but looking back I realise that was the mark of an amazing character.
Detention with her was brutal, and as she got more sinister as the book went on I found myself pretty scared of just what she might have been capable of. I found Umbridge actually made me like characters I had previously been indifferent to – I suddenly found myself feeling sorry for Professor Trelawney and wanting to start a mass protest against her getting the sack.
The subtle ways both students and teachers alike fought back against Umbridge was so satisfying. Hermione again got some golden moments in this entry, raising her hand constantly to ask Umbridge questions and talking back when others daren’t was excellent. Professor McGonagall also had some amazing comebacks to Umbridge – the whole chapter with Harry having a careers advice meeting with the two of them was INCREDIBLE! I’m finding myself thinking that McGonagall seems more and more like an older version of Hermione. I’d be pretty happy if I turned out like McGonagall, she’s sassy and chilled! (At least that’s what her Match.com profile says)
Ultimately though, did Umbridge really have any lasting impact? The end of her story felt a little anti-climactic. And I can’t decide if I want her to come back or not. I spent the whole book thinking she was going to do something diabolical, or turn out to be a high-ranking Death Eater, but in the end she really was just a very extreme Ministry of Magic employee? It felt a bit… Disappointing. I was expecting more from her after such a build up. For the most part though, she was an excellent antagonist. She brought out a side to the other characters that I loved, and changed the dynamics in Hogwarts in a fantastic way. I’m just getting sick of a new Dark Arts teacher coming in every year.
Speaking of antagonists, there was also the mass breakout of Death Eaters from Azkaban. That gave me all kinds of excited tingles, and I was immediately scared of Bellatrix Lestrange, who seems like a very serious and major threat. I was dying to see a major exchange between her and Neville, and when they did interact, I was a little disappointed to be honest, but I’m sure they have a big confrontation coming up in a future book. They have to! Neville has to avenge his parents! GO NEVILLE!
I spent a lot of the last third of the book on edge. To be fair, I spent a LOT of the book on edge, and have found as the series has gone on that I’m suspicious of everything. I was convinced Hermione’s hats she was knitting for the elves was something shady, that there would be some kind of sinister twist about who was collecting them and for what purpose, and it was just Dobby! I’M SUSPICIOUS OF EVERYONE!
I also couldn’t shake the feeling someone was going to die, and after figuring Arthur Weasley was safe I started to panic about Sirius Black because of Harry’s ominous dream. Getting in to the Ministry of Magic felt far too easy, and I was nervous to turn the pages and find out just when things were going to go wrong for Harry and the others. But when things did go wrong, and a major death seemingly actually happened, and Sirius fell through the mysterious curtain? …I’m not buying it! I feel like he’s still going to come back in some shape or form. We need more answers on what that curtain is, and what the room with the brains was, I’m suddenly so intrigued by the Ministry I need more information!
Is that really Sirius out of the picture? I spent the rest of the book expecting him to come back. Maybe it’s because he didn’t really get to say much of a goodbye, or because I thought he’d go out in a more spectacular fashion, but something about it just seems strange. If that was a major character death, it certainly felt skimmed over and abrupt.
All of those chapters in the Ministry were incredible. Perfect pacing, excellent writing, and oh my gosh Neville finally manning-up and fighting alongside Harry was one of my favourite things in the book. I really want him to be the one to ultimately kill Bellatrix Lestrange. I think if he dies I’ll be distraught and spend a week in mourning.
Harry teaching his own Defence against the Dark Arts classes made for some amazing chapters too, and again I got some major Season-7-Buffy vibes of Buffy teaching the Potentials. I remember loving Harry when he yelled at Hermione & Ron for making light of the fact he’d faced Voldemort and seen Cedric Diggory die. No one can deny Harry is generally a very quick-tempered character, but this was one of the first times I’ve thought he was absolutely right. And when he admitted he could easily have been in Cedric’s position and it was often luck that saved him… Oh, girl…
Generally speaking I find I don’t really care for Harry, and prefer Ron and Hermione to him. I know he’s the hero, and he’s the one pushing the story forward, but I’m not sure I’m particularly bothered about what happens to him ultimately, I must confess.
The Order of the Phoenix felt very epic overall – I finished my last post saying I felt like I was on the tip of a roller coaster, and that feeling pretty much stayed for this entire book right up until the Ministry of Magic scenes at the end, when I finally felt like I was tipped over the edge. Despite what felt like a slightly rushed ending after some amazing scenes at the Ministry and a kind of lack-lustre prophecy, I LOVED this book. It had the best writing in the series so far without a doubt, Umbridge was a villain I loved to hate, and I think I might fancy Bill Weasley a little bit. I am so excited to read the Half-Blood Prince!!!
I’m liking all of the Weasleys, Hermione, and Dumbledore… And Luna, and Bellatrix, and Neville, and so many characters STOP MAKING ME CHOOSE! I’m not liking Hagrid (he still just bores me), Draco, or Cho Chang. My top (rhetorical) questions are…
- Is Umbridge going to be back? Did she have any further purpose?
- What did Lily end up seeing in James? Turns out he was a bit of a tit.
- Is Sirius Siriusly dead? I’m sure he’ll be back!
Questions for you are…
- How did you find Cho Chang in this book?
- What did you think to Luna Lovegood?
- How does Umbridge compare to other antagonists in your opinion? I think she’s one of my favourites. I love to hate her!