The twins and I just finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In order for me to read them the next one (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) they will both need to read the first five books on their own. Too much? We’ll see, but I’ve never seen my son lock himself in a room for hours to read like he did after the challenge was accepted. Minecraft, schminecraft.
I bought Order of the Phoenix when it came out, at midnight in a bookstore in Dublin, and read the whole thing cover-to-cover on the shortest transatlantic flight ever. I remember that Harry annoyed me, which was new as he never had before. I hated the way he lost his temper at Hermione and Ron, when they were just trying to help. I didn’t understand his righteous anger at those who doubted his account of the events in the fourth book. He was right, so who cared?
Well, 10 years or so have passed and I felt a lot more empathetic to Phoenix Harry this time around. This, and other observations:
- My God, Umbridge is the absolute worst. Torturing children for telling the truth? CHILLING.
- I loved Luna Lovegood just as much the second time, yet I finally appreciated why she got sorted into Ravenclaw. As spacey as she might seem, she’s actually coolly rational. She’s the one who gets the gang to the Ministry of Magic via the thestrals, after all.
- Ginny, never my favorite, starts to gain prominence in Phoenix. I think it’s her Bat Boogey Hex that grates the most. The constant mentioning of her mastery of this charm seems a cheap ploy to make her the heiress to Fred and George at Hogwarts. She’s an amalgam of attributes we’re supposed to like, but she never feels authentic to me. She bugs.
- Poor Cho! Yes, her friend was a snitch (and boy does she pay for it). Cho cries a lot, but who wouldn’t be sad if their boyfriend died? However, I get Harry’s feelings too. It’s hard out there for a teenager in love with the girlfriend of his competitor in the Triwizard Tournament who gets smoked by the most evil wizard in a century. I mean, I think we can all relate.
- Neville! Phoenix marks a turning point in the evolution of Neville, and he battles HARD at the Department of Mysteries even though he’s sorely overmatched in almost every way. Neville arguably has the least amount of talent in his year, but he works harder than anyone at the Dumbledore Army meetings. We should all try to be like Neville Longbottom.
- James Potter IS a tosser, or at least he is in Snape’s Worst Memory. He’s like one of those talented jocks in high school who thinks they are REAL FUNNY but they are actually bullies and everyone secretly dislikes them. We have to take it on the word of others that James changed, but this impression of him really sticks.
- Hermione continues to rock steady. Hermione is the real superhero in this book in many ways, and I too am troubled by the classification of her as a sidekick (hat tip, Grumpy Rumblings). She was the only one who knew Voldemort was using Harry.
- The Daily Prophet’s attack on Harry’s character is maddening. I know what it is like to go into Gryffindor’s dormitory and have a friend shun you because they believe the Daily Prophet. It sucks, and I get why Harry is so pissed off about it. When the story is being told by someone else, he’s powerless. Not coincidently, things turn around for him when he tells his story to the Quibbler.
- Speaking of maddening: Hagrid, ugh. Everyone has had That Friend – the one with the best intentions but who does the dumbest things that are frankly dangerous. Somehow, everything always works out OK in the end. Then you go into a corner and have a quiet breakdown.
- Harry’s temper in Phoenix is mostly related to grief, shock and guilt. And well, I think the ALI community can relate to that.
- Does Ron have Imposter Syndrome? His terrible goal-keeping improves after his brothers leave, and he has nothing left to prove.
- Movie Filch is unspeakably sinister now that I’ve seen the Red Wedding.
- The Sirius storyline is so sad. Because I’m shallow, I wonder just how “very good-looking” he was before Azkaban. Like, did he look like Jon Snow?
- Phoenix has my favorite Fred and George moment, when they fly into the sunset after unleashing all manner of chaos upon Umbridge.
‘Give her hell from us, Peeves.’
And Peeves, whom Harry has never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultuous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset.
Love Ginny? Hate Neville? Ron = Imposter? Would love to hear your thoughts, even (especiallly?) if you disagree.