Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J. K. Rowling
Well, 5 down and 2 to go. So excited to keep reading, but sad that I’m over halfway and the books will come to an end. I’m not ready for that, but I don’t want to stop reading! Rowling is a master of characters. They are flawed, which makes them incredibly relatable. I love how even though it’s a story about wizards and witches, it feels like an everyday kind of life, a very normal life. I think I could read the books many times and notice something new, or catch something I missed, the first time. I’m in love with her genius, and I am loving this series.
It’s the summer before Harry’s fifth school year and life with the Dursleys is miserable as usual. Before long, Harry and his cousin, Dudley, find themselves being attacked by dementors, but Harry is able to fend them off. However, he used magic which lands him in a world of trouble, capping off with a trial to determine whether or not he can continue at Hogwarts. Dumbledore comes through in the end and defends Harry to success. Harry is immensely relieved and spends the last few days of summer with the Weasleys and Hermione. Spoilers: They are staying with Sirius in his magical house in order to keep Harry safe. The Weasleys and Hermione have been there for a while (and soon after Harry arrives, Ron and Hermione find out that they are head boy and girl at Hogwarts), so Harry is confused and jealous. To make matters worse, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Sirius are part of a secret order: The Order of the Phoenix, and won’t tell anything about it, won’t even explain why Harry was attacked and what’s going on with him. Ron and Hermione smooth things over a little bit before they begin their trip back to Hogwarts. This is Harry’s fifth year and he is facing his O.W.L.S exam (so, piles of school work), a horrible new defense of the dark arts teacher (Prof. Umbridge), a new Quidditch team, and being whispered about all the time by his school mates. Things go downhill quickly for Harry. Prof. Umbridge is literally out to get him (and the whole school). She is given her position by the Ministry of Magic and slowly gets more and more power and control over all the students and teachers. She gives Harry horrible detentions for questioning her in class – he’s forced to write “I must not tell lies” but the ink is his own blood from his hand. She also finds a reason to kick him off the Quidditch team, and prevent clubs from meeting. She makes things so unbearable for the Weasley twins that they decide to help Harry at one point by creating a diversion, resulting in them leaving school in order to start a joke shop. It is the talk of the school and happy relief for the twins. Harry’s only source of happiness is in forming a secret club to teach some of his fellow students how to defend against the dark arts (because Prof. Umbridge’s class is book only, not practice). Harry is also plagued by horrible dreams where he sees and feels what Voldemort is seeing/doing. In one reoccurring dream, he is trying to find something specific in the Ministry of Magic. Harry is trying to learn how to block these mind dreams, but he also is curious to find out what Voldemort is doing so he can stop him. Finally, near the end of the year, Harry’s dream takes a dark turn and he witnesses Voldemort torturing Sirius. Harry can sit by no longer and leaves (with Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville, who refuse to let Harry leave alone). They get to the Ministry of Magic and soon realize that they fell into a trap. Voldemort is there with his followers who have escaped Azkaban, but without Sirius. Voldemort wants a prophecy that only Harry can get him. So beings a battle between Harry and his friends, and Voldemort and his followers. Harry is able to keep the prophecy from Voldemort, but soon many of his friends are down and it’s looking hopeless. Then, several members of the Order of the Phoenix arrive to help battle. In the end, the prophesy breaks, Sirius is dead, Harry and his friends live, and Voldemort escapes. Harry is in shock and they all return to Hogwarts. There he learns the truth: he and Voldemort have a link which Voldemort used to trick Harry and use him for his purposes. Dumbledore admitted that he did not do the right thing. In his attempt to protect Harry, he kept him in the dark, which lead to things going wrong. But he tells Harry everything now. How in order to be protected, he has to live with his Aunt and Uncle, and how the prophecy tells how he and Voldemort can’t co-exist . . . in the end one will need to kill the other. It is a heavy relief to know the truth, and sad to know how he needs to return to his Aunt and Uncle’s. Happily, Prof. Umbridge got herself in trouble, so slinks off when Dumbledore returns with Harry and the truth comes out that Voldemort is indeed returned and Harry is not a liar. There are so many subplots as well. Mr. Weasley gets attacked by Voldemort and Harry dreams about it, which is what saves Mr. Weasley from death. Percy has estranged himself from his family causing them immense pain and frustration. Dumbledore is forced to leave Hogwarts at one point and Prof. Umbridge takes his place. Harry and Cho have a little fling before it peters out. Ginny shocks Ron by being old enough to date and being good enough to play on the Quidditch team. Ron gets dragged into playing Quidditch, where he plays horribly until the last game. I really appreciated how in this book both Harry and Dumbledore make mistakes that cause really bad things to happen. They are not perfect and a lot of pain is caused because of it. In the end, relationships are repaired, but not everything is. It’s sad, but at the same time, very relatable and honest. I really, really liked this book.
Summing it up: I’m still going strong on loving Harry Potter.
All the best, Abbey