This is the second time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but the first since finishing Deathly Hallows and first time reading it critically. I’ve tailored this review in the following in mind: the intended audience for the book (much younger than myself) and its place in the series.
“Order of the Phoenix” is the longest book of the series and Rowlings continued expounding upon numerous details and backstory that had started in “Goblet of Fire”. With maturing plot and content Rowlings continued her brilliant wording which allowed her to give various their due. The use of propaganda by government through both overt and subversive is one of the central themes of the book, notably connected to one of the most loathed characters of the entire series, Dolores Umbridge. Beyond following Harry’s ‘worst’ year at Hogwarts while dealing with not being believed about Voldemort’s return and then wondering why Dumbledore doesn’t want to deal with him. Rowlings continued to develop her established characters through experiences and attempted teenage relationships that both added to and (unfortunately) took away from the whole narrative.
“Order of the Phoenix” sees the next phase of the series’ overall story as the Wizarding World must be convinced that Voldemort had returned and preparations must be made to counter his attempt to take power. The transition the “lightness” of the series to darker themes is really pushed to the forefront from and unexpected source, the Ministry of Magic. The Ministry, really Cornelius Fudge, along with the Daily Prophet attacks the creditability of Dumbledore and Harry to the Wizarding World at large then in Hogwarts itself. Harry’s time in Muggle world grows shorter to allow him to be immersed in a now somewhat hostile darkening Wizarding that he can’t believe that Voldemort hasn’t returned. Important characters, important magical objects, and other important facts are sprinkled into the narrative even before Harry’s return to Hogwarts but the astute reader will notice their importance as events unfold though unfortunately plot hole resolutions are less satisfyingly written than in previous volumes. The “innocence” of the previous books is completely gone and situations that occur were eerily repeated years later in the real world in a fashion. “Order of the Phoenix” is where Harry’s story darkness as Voldemort shadows his thoughts (literally) while dealing with classwork that effect his future and teenage hormones and attempting to find some good in his life. However Harry’s anger that lasts throughout the book does become a bit much, even though it seems to start out as a possible symptom to PTSD, does get a bit much and in the end seems to just be a plot device that places a part in the Department of Mysteries plot.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the first truly thoroughly “dark” book of the series, though it is just a shadow of how dark the series will become while telegraphing future events. Rowlings continued to keep the pace of the book going even as she expanded on several story arcs of various characters and added the normal teenage social travails that finally showed up, though somewhat a little late. Unlike “Goblet of Fire”, Rowlings took her time to add these new additions to create a better reading experience making this slightly better than. While the longest of the series and have elements that are a bit tiring, “Order of the Phoenix” is a good read.