Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is desperate to return to Hogwarts and find out why his friends, Ron and Hermione, have been so secretive all summer. But before he even gets to school, Harry survives a terrifying encounter with two Dementors, attends a court hearing at the Ministry of Magic and is escorted on a nighttime broomstick ride to the secret headquarters of a mysterious group called the Order of the Phoenix. Summary from Back of UK Signature Edition
There are a few minor spoilers in this review, mostly for the four previous books.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the first Harry Potter book that I had to wait to be published. When I started to read the series, the first four books were already out. When I finished Goblet of Fire, I didn’t think I could wait the two long years, which turned into three, for Order of Phoenix to be published because Goblet of Fire ended in such a cliffhanger. If I felt I’d get resolution with Order of Phoenix, I was much mistaken. Resolution doesn’t come for a while.
I know many Harry Potter fans didn’t like Order of the Phoenix very much. They didn’t like how angry Harry was. While I enjoy reading about Harry when he’s in a better mood, I understood where he was coming from. If I had been in his shoes, experiencing everything he did, dealing with Umbridge, I’m sure I would’ve been angry too. It just didn’t bother me. In fact, I think Order of the Phoenix is a fantastic book for many reasons.
First, I love to hate Dolores Umbridge. She is such a well written character. I hate her even more than I hate Voldemort because while both Voldemort and Umbridge are hungry for power, Umbridge, being a member of the ministry and not being looked upon as a dark wizard, has the ability to inflict harm and misery upon Harry (and everyone at Hogwarts) throughout the entire year. Hogwarts is supposed to be a happy place for Harry, but Umbridge thwarts that on many occasions. Oooh! I just hate her!
Second, the end-of-the-school-year-chat with Dumbledore is my favorite of all the previous ones. I love the amount of insight we get into Dumbledore’s character during this chat. I think it makes it much more poignant that he’s “ignored” Harry throughout the year. You can really see how much he cares for Harry when he finally discusses everything with him. And, even though he has to prepare Harry for what’s to come in the future, something Dumbledore isn’t at all eager to do, his love for Harry is more apparent in this novel than any of the others.
Third, I love meeting the members of the Order and spending as much time with Sirius as we do (and learning about his past). It’s so intriguing to see the inner workings of the Order. Even though we don’t get to see a lot of it because Dumbledore doesn’t want Harry knowing everything, we still get to see a lot of how the Order functions–guard detail, throwing off the Ministry of Magic, spying on Voldemort, etc.
Finally, as with every other book in the series, I love the awesome foreshadowing that JK Rowling writes into the story. I love the subtle mention of the locket and the subtle mention (just noticed during this read) of Lily’s relationship with a certain someone still at Hogwarts. I also love that you get a glimpse of what’s to come in Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows with Harry’s role in Voldemort’s downfall. She’s a genius. That’s all there is to it.
While Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix isn’t my favorite book of the series, it isn’t my least favorite either. The complexity of the story is a wonderful addition and integral part of Harry’s life while he’s at Hogwarts. And, with all the darkness in this book, it makes you appreciate the lighthearted atmosphere in the others more.