Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Hello All! We've just finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in our Potter Head Read-Along. It's being hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey, and it's not too late to join in if you're interested in reading with us. Details here. As most people are all kinds of familiar with our boy-wizard's world, this won't be your average book review. I'll just talk about points that struck my fancy while re-reading. 

(If you're one of the four people in the world who haven't read or seen HP yet, be warned there may be spoilers below.)

Ah book 5. So sad! I remember that book 5 was the first one I had to wait for. Not very long, mind you. There was something like a two or three year gap between books 4 and 5 while Rowling took a year off. I finished book 5 a few months before book 5 came out, and even that was torture!

Book 5 has so much great stuff in it: great developments, great villains, and tons of character development for Harry. We got to learn more about the centaurs, who are surprisingly closed-minded. We met a real giant--and Hagrid's half-brother, no less!. The there's the formation of the D.A., the delicious rebellion of the teenagers in general, the coming together of the Order of the Phoenix, occlumency, and of course how much we love to hate Umbridge.

Rowling has done such a great job with all these characters, that I thought it was the best thing in the world when Moody, Lupin, Tonks, and a bunch of others we love showed up to escort Harry at the beginning. So great! Number 12 Grimmauld Place was just all kinds of fun, and you can't help but love Kreacher, even if he's an evil little dude. (Polar opposite of Dobby.)

Of course this is also the first book that had a supremely tragic ending. (Yes, I know, book 4 was pretty tragic, but as much as I loved Cedric and was sad he died, our sadness there was more for Harry than anything else, and we didn't know Cedric very well. It was infinitely more heart-rending when Sirius died.)

This was one major gripe I had with the film. I've said it before, but films often try to downplay the darkness that occurs in books and it bugs me to no end. I think the film makers thought the end of this book was too sad, or maybe that it cast Harry in a negative light because he was so angry. So, instead of hash out how Harry was really feeling, they took all the emotion out of that final scene in Dumbledore's office. I had a major problem with that. Of course we got very little of the centaurs in the film and even less of the details like Dobby and the visit to St. Mungus, which was also a shame. (I've always felt like the films short-change Neville's story line.)

Of course the Department of Mysteries bit was greatly simplified in the film (to be expected, as it would have come across as confusing on screen) but I definitely enjoyed the detail of the book more.

On the other hand, I thought as usual that all the actors did an excellent job bringing the film to life. Imelda Staunton, who played Umridge, personified the character wonderfully, though admittedly she's not nearly ugly enough to match the description of the character in the book. The poetic justice of Harry saying, "I'm sorry Professor, I must not tell lies," to Umbridge when the centaurs carted her off was all the film. And the bit in the Ministry of Magic where Voldemort possessed Harry was actually more powerful in my opinion in the film than it was in the book. 

So...pros and cons, as usual. There were things the film did really well and things that it didn't. Overall, I really enjoyed this installment, despite the tragedy, and am excited to begin book 6.

How did everyone else like book 5?

1 comment :

  1. Liesel, I'm a big fan of all the books, actually. Not so much with the films. It was the adaptation of "Phoenix" that irritated more than any of them and put me off the films in comparison to how I used to love them and accepted the differences. It's when they took away too many important things or actually changed the story that I couldn't take it anymore.

    But the 5th one is the one that made me ache for the 6th, buying it the day it was released! Great recap :)