Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Series spoilers)



"We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are." – Sirius Black



This has always been one of my favourites of the Harry Potter series, along with the Prisoner of Azkaban – one introducing Sirius and the other killing him.

This time around though I found it a more difficult read. Harry spends much of his time stressed out, like all pubescent teenagers in their growing years. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that stressy and this book is jam packed with action and the raging hormones of boys. I never remembered the stress effecting me so much in previous years – maybe it is because I am becoming calmer, the further away I travel from my own teenage, angsty self.

Order of the Phoenix is simply an amazing book though – it is fraught with danger, tension and impending doom. For the whole 700 odd pages it keeps you on your toes throughout and then rips your heart out in several places.

My favourite part of this book is the bits about Snape. His character is further unravelled and I love seeing what made Snape the man who he is. More on that later. I like the fact that we are, along with Harry, forced to empathise with him and that Harry is made to realise that his father isn’t the knight in shining armour he imagined him to be. Snape is a rather sad character in that he feels like he’s been bottled and never grown up.

On my first few reads – Sirius’ death made me cry the most – but now it is not so much his death, but the lives of Neville’s parents that wrenches my hear. That kind of a life is by far, worse then death. Sirius at least went in a blaze of glory. Neville’s parents who sacrificed their sanity perhaps – remain living, their lives never resolved, never given that chance of happiness or peace that Sirius will have.

Harry’s grief at losing Sirius felt so real – the way Rowling describes it and how real she describes it makes me empathise so deeply with Harry – especially his terrible guilt at the end knowing that he could have prevented Sirius’ death just by speaking into the mirror, or listening to Hermoine. Without his panic though no one would have believed that Voldemort had returned, however I doubt that really makes it up for Harry.

When I first read the book I remember chucking the book on the floor in a fit of disbelief and rage. I guess it had to be expected and I had been expecting it – but still you hope in vain, don’t you? Even reading it through again, I hoped against hope (that somehow the text in my books had magically changed) that Sirius would be alive by the end of it.

I don’t think there are many books like Harry Potter that leave me feeling quite so emotionally drained. I’ve finished the series now, as I catch up on my reviews – and I have been so immersed in Harry Potter that just about every night I have dreamed about it. My waking moments have been ruled by when I can next open my Harry Potter book or thinking about something that has happened or I know to come.

Order of the Phoenix is one of the most exhausting books I have ever read. I love how it mingles with my thoughts and emotions, but it’s very tiring. I was quite glad to move onto the calmer, relatively peaceful Half Blood Prince.


  1. I think the reason that Sirius' death is so gut-wrenching for me is that as I read through the series the first time, I had hoped against hope that somehow Harry would get to leave the Dursleys and go live with his awesome Uncle and really just have a jolly time of it. Harry gets so close to him in such a short amount of time, too, that it just seemed like he was ripped away too soon.

    I do have to agree with you about two other things: Neville's parents and the teenage angst. I find as I go back and revisit that books, Neville is becoming more and more dear to me, and the scenes with his parents just kill me. Also, the teenage angst--I understand why JKR did it, but I feel the same way you did about growing out of that stage.

    I really love your reviews of the series! :)

  2. Neville's story makes me cry--I spend most of the end of the fifth book in tears, but I always start crying when Neville yells at Bellatrix about his parents, in the Department of Mysteries. (I am kind of teary thinking about that part.)

    I love that we see Harry's father's flaws in the fifth book. I only wish we'd seen a nicer side of him, because we really don't, in the books. I wanted to see him a few years on, slightly more grown up and mature, to see why Lily liked him so much.

  3. My sister and I were both in our early twenties when we read these, so the angst got to us. I understand it, but it got old for me and caused her to give up on the series.

    You're right about Neville's parents too. Working in health care I actually see this kind of thing with Alzeheimer's patients and it bothers me. I'll leave it at that.

    jennysbooks is right about Harry's dad, although I'd never thought about it. You know he has to turn out okay, but we never get to see him that way. Well, there's the huge fact that he died protecting his wife and child, but other than that, he doesn't come off all that nice.

  4. The books always revives my inner teenager and I get so angsty for Harry but then I can identify because I felt like that so much of the time when I was his age. For me it is just another sign of how evocative and moving Rowling's writing is.

    I was also affected by Neville's parents and Sirius and the revelations that Harry's father wasn't so perfect but the part that made me cry was in Dumbledore's office when that tear rolls down his cheek. sniff



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