Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Series: Harry Potter: #5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is my least favorite book of the series. That doesn’t make it a bad book, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s just not as fun to read as the others and doesn’t really feel like it advances the story in any way. We all know Voldemort is back now–although the ministry denies it, which is interesting but stretches credulity somewhat. Other than that, not terribly much world-changing happens. We get a lot of angsty teenage Harry, a bit of Hogwarts dating life, and a frankly terrifying new Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers…

Specifically, teenage angsty Harry is thoroughly annoying. I get that teens are angsty and Harry in particular has more reason than most, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read. Especially since it feels like such a drastic change from previous books.

After that, Umbridge. Perhaps I’m naive, but I cannot really imagine how just about anything she does could possibly fly. It makes one wonder exactly what the relationship between the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts actually is. Is it a state school or something more private? There are hints that there is a board in the Chamber of Secrets, where did they go in Order of the Phoenix? How can they get away with completely dismantling any autonomy that Hogwarts had? And as satisfying as it is handing her over to the centaurs, isn’t that a potential death sentence? No one seems to care…

On the other hand, I really only had one real nitpick with the books ( spoilers! ):

In the big setpiece scene where Dumbledore goes on the run, the good guys modify another student’s memory. How is that in any way okay? It’s a very ends-justify-the-means sort of moment and I guess they could have just put her memories back after the moment, but no one even seems to think it a problem, since they’re getting back at a turncoat and defying Umbridge at the same time, but still.

(Other small nitpick: Shouldn’t Harry always have been able to see the Thestrals because of his parents?)