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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J. K. Rowling

02 Aug

HP5Why am I not starting with book one? I imagine I hear you ask…well that would be easy and it’s so much more contentious to talk about book five AKA the book that ruined the magic(!).

When this book came out there were a large number of people going around claiming it was the ‘best Potter book yet’, these people worried me, it seems this group had either lost their critical faculties or are just happy to hoover up any average novel. Each to their own of course, I’m sure a small minority still name this as their favourite of the series…possibly, but there can’t be to many people left who still rate this, can there?

After finishing the story, I remember feeling utterly underwhelmed and quite relieved that it was over.  It took a few days for the enormity of what the book had done to the series to kick in.

There was so much wrong with the content (I liked the cover, a bit), it was clear fairly early on that it wasn’t particularly well-edited, one wonders if this was a case of ‘well it will sell and the gullible public will be happy with it no matter what’.

If that’s the reason then they were more right than wrong, clicking on a few well know book reviewing sites, there seems to be the usual huge number four and five-star reviews.  So is it a question of lax publishing standards or did Rowling not want it edited, or were the publishers to weak to demand a good editor?  Speculation like this will never be answered so time to move on.

The biggest problem I had, was the lack of mystery.  What surprised me about the first book, H P and the Philosopher’s Stone, was that it wasn’t just a simple story but had those cunning clues hidden within the text that I missed but enjoyed looking for in the next three books.  This one however seemed devoid of anything clever like that, in fact the twist this time was the death of a well-known character which didn’t particularly convince and seemed a clunky plot device in any case.  Still it kept everyone reading until the bitter end, perhaps that was the point…

The structure of the book is perhaps one more suited to the penultimate book, setting things up for the final encounters to be played out and tied up,  this could have been negated if the plot wasn’t so short compared to the size of the book.  By all means mix up the structure to keep us readers off-balance but keep the charm in at least.  Without the clever text play the book just becomes a standard action book.

It all seems very loose and contains plenty of padding and great swathes of prose to wade through that doesn’t add anything to the plot or even the character development…Harry comes across as a dull cliché teenager who refuses to get any help from the adults…again, presumably he isn’t worried by Voldemort who seems less sinister by the book.  The much vaunted love interest wasn’t particularly interesting either, Cho Chang had the capacity to become a major and interesting character but ends up lacking depth and coming across as weak and shallow.

There are good points of course, it’s nice to be back in that world and the story does progress the series as it starts to wind up for the last two books.  The best thing about the book is ironically it’s size, yes it does go on and on but it also encouraged children to read bigger books and feel more confident with more imposing books.  That at least is laudable sadly there is just more wrong than right with this book.

It’s clear that the predictable overhyped media coverage helped to put pressure on Rowling and subsequently  contributed to the ruined book, another year would probably have done wonders for it, coupled with a good editor.  Book three was the high point of the series for me and although this put a severe dent in my enjoyment of the series, I still bought the next two books, just with a lot less enthusiasm.  it never again captures the heights of books one and three and by the end I was just happy it was all over.

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28 Comments

Posted by on 02/08/2013 in Children's Literature

 

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28 responses to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J. K. Rowling

  1. suzie81

    02/08/2013 at 18:26

    I read the series in the order 4,3,2,1,5,6,7. My favourite was the Goblet Of Fire… I wasn’t as keen in 5,6 and 7.

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    • Ste J

      02/08/2013 at 18:33

      The latter half of the series was poorer, in fact it was very noticeable in each book how the standard had dropped. Is there any reason you chose such a quirky reading order, or are you just a bit backwards…the forwards?

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      • suzie81

        02/08/2013 at 18:45

        I asked for a Harry Potter book for my 20th birthday. My mum bought me the fourth one, so I ended up reading the first half of the books in reverse for some reason

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        • Ste J

          02/08/2013 at 18:47

          I like it, it takes all the dramatic tension out of it but like a time travel film makes more sense the further back in time you go. I may reread narnia like that.

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  2. LuAnn

    02/08/2013 at 20:15

    Perhaps there comes a point in a series of books when the author is ready to move on before the audience is ready to let go of the characters. It seems the case in this series as I felt it was an effort to complete them all but felt it necessary to do so. I think you were spot on with this review Ste J.

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    • Ste J

      03/08/2013 at 18:27

      When you get to book five in the knowledge that there are only two more books, it does makes you feel obliged to read them. I think that sometimes people aren’t critical enough, fair criticism improves writing, blanket four and five star reviews make authors complacent. Oddly I thought my review might stir up some dissenting arguments but everyone seems to agree. We are the bestest!

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  3. aliceatwonderland

    02/08/2013 at 21:07

    I enjoyed the first three books the most as well. Goblet of Fire was not too bad – would have been far better with at least 100 pages edited out. I really didn’t need to know that much about the bloody Quiddich match, for crying out loud. The Goblet of Fire movie did a pretty good job of editing out a lot of stuff that didn’t matter.

    Order of the Phoenix drove me nuts. Took freaking forever for him to get to the school, which is sort of what the entire book is about – the wizard school. All that talk about Black’s house, blah blah blah blahhhhhhhh. I nearly just threw down the book in frustration. I admit to skimming parts. A lot of it was necessarily edited out in the movie, but unfortunately you miss the entire reason why Harry is so upset about Black, since they chose to skim over most of their relationship.

    I’m trying to remember the 6th book, but it’s not coming to me. Book 7 redeemed 4, 5, and 6 somewhat. It was shorter and finally got to the freaking point, but it really didn’t need to be stretched into two movies. There was an awful lot of them standing around in the movies. The ending was happy, but rather pat . . . not sure if you’ve read it, so I’ll stop there.

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    • Ste J

      03/08/2013 at 18:47

      I don’t remember book six either…I remember the film though but the book, nada. Seven was okay, I could have done with more carnage though, or perhaps that was just my frustration because of book five.

      Five was misjudged in many ways, but like you say, it started in book four and that was annoying in itself. It would have been better to have Ron bouncing around doing the trials instead. No wonder he was pissed at Harry, I was as well.

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  4. Christina ~

    03/08/2013 at 00:49

    Sadly, the series did turn…though me with my overactive imagination tended to fill in any magic lacking with my own…so enamored with the characters and story as I was.

    It is nice to see you mix things up and post a “less than” review opposed to a ‘loved it’ review. Your Ste-style shines through…yet again… xxxx ~

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    • Ste J

      03/08/2013 at 18:37

      You do have an awesomely overactive thought box, I agree.

      Every so often the frustration does come to the fore. It is usually easier to write good book reviews but when the annoyance strikes then the rant begins. I shall attempt to mix up my ‘Ste-style’ up some morer. XXXX

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  5. gargoylebruce

    03/08/2013 at 03:09

    Why start with number five? Because you’re a renegade, that’s why! This one I liked because there was a significant amount of Snape in it (although this didn’t translate to the film, annoyingly), and disliked it because of the enormous amount of angsty teenage whinging. Although on the plus side, it did coin the oft-uttered (at least in my neck of the shelf) catchphrase “Accio Brain!”

    I so wanted that on a t shirt.

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    • Ste J

      03/08/2013 at 18:34

      Perhaps a blog giveaway? Get a bunch of T-shirts with that on, sounds awesome. Snape has been underused and just a brooding presence in the background. The films were a bit poor especially the early ones…but then again what film is compared to the book? The book does beg the question why can’t Potter just be honest and go to the adults and not get into death defying scrapes. Kids are dumb.

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  6. Lyn

    03/08/2013 at 03:26

    I have read one of the books – on the insistence of my granddaughter – but I can’t remember which one, so it must have been memorable. I’ve seen most of the movies, but apart from the first one, my favourite is Prisoner of Azkaban. I hated the second movie, and after Prisoner they seemed to become increasingly “dark.” I was thoroughly sick and tired of the Aunt, Uncle and Cousin after their second major appearance in the series. Some of the minor characters could have been expanded upon and some of the secondary characters dumped – like Crabbe and Goyle, they were nothing more than mindless uninteresting sidekicks for bully-boy Malfoy, who, like all bullies is an out and out coward. Although it was interesting to see the actor playing a different role to the one I originally saw him in Anna and The King where he played ten-year-old Louis Leonowens.
    One of my favourite comeback lines in HP was Harry’s to Malfoy, when he said…
    “Yeah,” said Harry, “but you, unlike me, are a git.” Says it all really 🙂

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    • Ste J

      03/08/2013 at 19:12

      I like your critiquing! If memory serves me correctly films one and two were a bit slow and overly long, three book and film were both good and my favourite book by far although one was enjoyable as well. Some of the characters were a bit two dimensional, still we have what we have and for better or worse it was a bit of a crazy ride. Git is an underused word, I think.

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  7. sakuraandme

    05/08/2013 at 09:33

    Haha!

    I’ve never read the book…so why did I just read this! Lol. Okay got me, I’m addicted to blogging and certain blogs! My little blog family!! 🙂 LMAO

    Yes your one of them! Hope you had a great weekend. Hugs to you. Paula xxx

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    • Ste J

      05/08/2013 at 16:49

      It is an honour to join the Family, I put that with a capital ‘F’ so I could sound all Mafia! I’m glad I can entertain you. Plenty more coming up post wise and just as soon as I complete the next one, I’ll be round your gaff for a cuppa.

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      • sakuraandme

        06/08/2013 at 01:13

        Welcome to the Family! 🙂

        I’m about to make tea as its morning. I shall put a pod in the coffee machine and pretend your chatting with me!

        Hmm mm sounds a little crazy, right? LMAO
        Have a good productive day. No writers block! 🙂 xx

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        • Ste J

          07/08/2013 at 17:48

          Ooo, I love a good natter although coffee ironically makes me sleepy…yes I am odd lol. I’ll fit right into the family. Writer’s block is happily ignoring me for the moment, yay! x

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  8. renxkyoko

    05/08/2013 at 23:00

    I was 9 or 10 years when the first book came out. I love the books for the story telling and the mystery. But growing up, . I became more discerning. I saw the numerous flaws in the plotline, such as, why couldn’t he tell Dumbledore or the other teachers about Prof. Umbrage. Come to think of it , why couldn’t Dumbledore and harry just sit down together and solve the problem of the horcruxes ? In the end, harry’s much ballyhoed destiny with Voldemort was just plain BS. In fact,they could have taken down Voldemort when he wasn’t that powerful , and had not called and organized his underlings early in the story. Dumbledore was just too secretive for me. In the end, it was actually Snape who turned out to be the noble one. I didn’t cry when Dumbledore died. I cried more for Fred, Snape and that boy who used to follow harry around.

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    • Ste J

      07/08/2013 at 17:54

      I have always been a fan of your straight talking Ren. Being the critical people that we are, I think we perhaps get to annoyed with plot holes. You are right though, it is flawed and just because it’s a book primarily written for kids it should still be logical and not stretched out for say….a seven book deal.

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  9. Asha

    06/08/2013 at 08:58

    Well, I never got around being less obsessed with the 6th book, maybe I was fascinated that the kids were finally grown, maybe I just wanted to see how Harry copes after Sirius’ death, maybe the horcruxes, maybe whatever! I know the reason was Snape. Period.
    Sadly, I am still a Potter-nerd and dive head straight into the 6th one each time I need a look-around. I didn’t like rest enough. Yeah, strange!!

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    • Ste J

      07/08/2013 at 18:33

      Each to their own my friend…I may have been kinder to the second half of the series had book five been more enjoyable but it’s all done now, for better or worse. I have never met anyone who liked book six as much as you, you are truly unique my friend.

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  10. Chelsea Brown

    23/12/2015 at 19:14

    I saw this post in your ‘ top viewed’ and I had to read your review. Though it’s been awhile since I last read book five I do remember it seeming a bit off when compared to the previous four, Harry’s anger being one of them, though understandable it seemed very out of character. It was as if he’d undergone a complete personality overhaul. Then of course there was the constant wondering/nervousness about his godfather until poof he was killed. I can surely see how much J.K. was pressured, I feel like the same could be said with the sixth book as well, but when you’ve got a major following as well as interest you’re bound to crack a bit. I feel like she wrapped up the series pretty strongly though.

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    • Ste J

      23/12/2015 at 20:09

      Interestingly I hardly retain any knowledge of the sixth book apart from the odd scene which I probably remember from the film. I think by the time the fifth book came around, she could do no wrong in the eyes of the majority of her followers, it was a shame that the latter half of the series didn’t stand up for me but I found the same with the Dark Tower series as well.

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      • Chelsea Brown

        23/12/2015 at 21:29

        I feel like that sort of thing can happen if you’re chained to a book project such as a long series, that the Harry Potter series was. I think if I were chained to Jenny Mac for seventeen years I’m willing to bet that the writing wouldn’t have been as magical as it was in the beginning. If only the literally world were more understanding and less money hungry.

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