Friday, January 23, 2015

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

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
It has been a year now since Kevin and I started listening to the Harry Potter series together. To be honest, I thought we would be done by now. I guess I underestimated their length and overestimated how much time we would spend listening. Of course, I could not have predicted that we would become obsessed with Serial this fall and not ever want to listen to anything else. 

The holidays made a huge difference, though. We spent somewhere in the vicinity of 30 hours in the car in a 10-day period. Yes, I did hate my life, but at least my strong propensity to motion sickness only led to one lost lunch on the side of the road. It could have been worse. In the midst of all that driving, we blazed through some serious Harry Potter. After, of course, we listened to the Serial finale and discussed it for at least an hour or more.

The trip gave us a chance to finish up book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or, as we now call it, Harry Potter and the Hormones. I mean seriously. Can we all just agree on how freaking annoying Harry is in this book? I get that he's fifteen and suffering some PTSD after watching Cedric's murder, but he's just awful. I don't care if you are Harry Potter. No one yells at Dumbledore. 

Ahem. Sorry...getting off track already. 

A quick refresher for any fringe Potter fan who has not read the books in a while: this is the one where no one believes Harry that Voldemort is back except a few key adults. Those adults reform the Order of the Phoenix, a secret group meant to fight the returning Death Eaters. Said group includes the Weasleys, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and others. This is also the book where the worst villain of the whole series shows up. No, not Voldemort: Professor Delores Umbridge. Because of her strict rules, Potter and friends form a secret Defense Against the Dark Arts club and foolishly name it Dumbledore's Army (the DA). In the end, Potter and some DA members head to the Ministry of Magic to retrieve a prophecy. There, they run into some Death Eaters; the Order comes to the rescue, but Sirius is KIA. 

The book is long. The longest of the series, in fact. And so much of it is made up of Harry's pubescent drama. As I said, I get that he's fifteen and going through some tough stuff, but he is genuinely hard to handle as a hero in this book. In the grand scheme of things, I actually really respect that Rowling takes this route with his character. It makes his transition from child to adult much more believable and it shows that real character development (fictional or not) does not happen overnight or within a few pages. Sometimes, growth takes an entire tome of teenage mood swings. It's the kind of book that makes you happy you have already made it through to adulthood.

That being said, it's still masterful. Rowling really is phenomenal. I cannot say it enough. The level of detail she includes in her books really elevate them. Sure, it also makes them long, but they are so rich with descriptions and conversations. This book especially struck me with how much more it contains than the movie. Basically the entire Department of Mysteries bit at the end is changed and condensed in the film.

Speaking of the movies, I got the complete set for Christmas (ok...I returned some other things and bought the set for myself with the store credit). We have been watching through again and are loving them. It has been particularly interesting to me to rewatch the early ones (which I have only seen a time or two). The jump in production value between each of the first three is immense. It is not really until Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that you feel like you are watching a Harry Potter movie. 

This was the last book I read of 2014. It pushed its way to Longest Book I Read at the last minute. Since then, we have plunged full force into book six. It could be a while before we actually finish it. No major road trips planned right now. Kevin, however, has been getting so interested and invested that he has been suggesting we listen to little bits on the way to dinner dates and such, so there may be hope yet. I'll keep you updated. 

Pages: 870
Date Completed: December 27, 2014


  1. Harry Potter and the Hormones would be a perfect alternate title for this book. The scene where he yells at Ron and Hermione flipped the switch for me and made me realize that Harry had some definite puberty issues going on. But, they are understandable. This book is such a hard one to read because it's dark and people, namely my favorite character, die :'( But the movie version, despite condensing a lot of details, is really well done. The soundtrack is one of my favorites from all the films. - Maggie @ macarons & paperbacks

    1. I love the soundtracks to all of these movies! There's a Spotify playlist someone made with all 8. It lasts about 8 hours - perfect length for the workday! I've spent many a day in the office this way.