Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
is Rowling's Empire Strikes Back
--a necessary but depressing part of the series. The last few pages made me smile. But for the most part, the other 867 pages are heavy, frustrating, dark, and extremely sad. Even Dumbledore sheds a tear! And why not? Privet Drive, Hogwarts and the wider wizard world are under siege by Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Dementors, angry racist/elitist centaurs, media propaganda, frightened government institutions, a wayward Weasley, and a despicable tool named Dolores Umbridge. I'll never again hear the hem hem
of a clearing throat without pulling a duck and cover.
While reading, I couldn't stop feeling sorry for various beings. Sirius, Luna, Cho, Kreacher, Snape, Harry, Ron, Firenze, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Hermione, the entire Longbottom clan, Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley, Trelawney, Luna, Dobby, and more--so many folks to pity! And when I wasn't pitying, I was busy hating. There's nothing even remotely likeable about Bellatrix Lestrange. Even the oft-beloved James Potter acts the bully and narcissist in pensieve-preserved memories. Plenty of pity and hate, combined with a near-constant sense that bad things are about to happen to either children or senior citizens, makes for a bit of an uncomfortable read. Strange, I liked the book, but was glad to see it end.
Though Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
is my least favorite installment in the series, it's still pretty awesome. One way I know Rowling's talented is that my forehead prickles each time Harry's scar starts hurting him. She's built a beautiful, dangerous world with characters I care about. And the best part? I've rearranged my reading life so I can jump straight into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince