Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
Hi everyone! Today, I’m bringing you a book review!
As you might know if you’ve been here for a bit, I have been (very slowly) working my way through the Harry Potter series. I’ve seen the movies a bunch (though none of them very recently), but I never read the books, so back in 2018, I decided I was going to give it a try. It’s been slow going, but I have finally finished book five.
I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about posting this review. I know that Harry Potter is a very beloved book series, and even though I did enjoy this book, and I like the series for the most part, this book was definitely not five stars for me. If you disagree with me, that’s completely fine. We’re all entitled to our own opinions.
I struggled for a while on what rating to give this book, and honestly, I’m still not entirely sure that what I’ve gone with is the right choice. I was mainly waffling between a 3 or a 4, and eventually, I decided to go with a 4, because I really did enjoy the book for the most part. I have some very strong negative feelings about the ending that, upon finishing, made me want to pull the rating down, but I think, since I was enjoying the book up until that point, it still deserves a 4.
Disclaimer, in case it isn’t obvious: This book is the fifth book in a series, and this review will contain spoilers. If by some miracle you have managed to avoid spoilers for this series up to this point and you intend to read the books someday, I would not recommend reading this review.
Now that all the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s get going, shall we? We’ll start with the negatives so we can end on a good note.
I had some little issues with this book, like the fact that I really didn’t care about Harry’s problems with Cho, and I know she’s not endgame anyway, so that probably didn’t help. But it would take me forever to talk about all of the little nitpicks I had with the book, so I’m just going to focus on the things that really annoyed me.
Lack of Communication/ The Ending
One of my least favorite tropes is when the entire plot of a book relies on characters refusing to just open their mouths and speak to each other. Out of all of the books in this series I’ve read so far, this one relies on this trope the most—and it’s the reason why I was seriously debating rating this book 3 stars instead of 4, because I was just so frustrated with the ending.
As I’m assuming you know, if you’re still reading at this point in the review, Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, dies in this book, during the big scene at the end when Harry and a couple of members of the DA sneak into the Ministry of Magic and get trapped by some Death Eaters. I actually really loved most that section. It was exciting and heartbreaking and action-packed, and it was a blast to read (or listen to, since I had it on audiobook). I loved seeing the characters get to show off their new skills. That whole section was a roller coaster of emotions, with the kids being triumphant, and then nearly losing, and then the Order coming to the rescue, and then Sirius dying.
There is, however, something I really hate about the ending, and it has to do with Sirius’s death. It isn’t necessarily that Sirius died—though of course that’s sad, and I feel horrible for Harry. I’m okay with characters dying in books. In fact, I think it’s necessary, particularly in a series like this one that is literally about a war.
What I hate is that everything about the ending was completely unnecessary. First of all, if Dumbledore had just told Harry the truth from the beginning, then Sirius would have been fine, and the prophecy wouldn’t have broken, and all of Harry’s friends wouldn’t have nearly died. (And also, I suppose, the Ministry would have continued to believe that Voldemort wasn’t back—but really, them learning the truth was the only good thing that came out of Harry’s little adventure at the end.) I’m pretty mad about the fact that Dumbledore didn’t tell Harry sooner, but not as mad as I am about the mirror.
So at the end of the Christmas holidays, Sirius gives Harry a package and tells him that he can use it to contact him when he needs to. Harry puts it away, unopened, telling himself he won’t use it, and promptly forgets about it (and admittedly, I forgot about it too). Then, at the end of the book, Harry finds this package at the bottom of his trunk and opens it, only to discover that what Sirius had given him was a two-way mirror that Harry could have used to contact Sirius. He tries to use the thing to contact Sirius’s spirit, which is kind of dumb, but I can let it pass because, well, the boy had just lost one of the closest people in his life, and he was going through some pretty intense grief—it makes sense that he wouldn’t be thinking clearly.
There are a lot of other issues I have with this mirror, though. For one, if Sirius had it this whole time, why on earth did he not give it to Harry earlier, like maybe back at the end of book 3 or something? I guess you could argue that maybe he didn’t have the mirror until he got back to his house at Grimmauld Place, since he was in Azkaban for a bit, and I don’t see how he could have had it there, but even if that’s true, why did he not give the thing to Harry in the summer before school started, instead of waiting until Christmas? And when he did give it to Harry, why didn’t he just tell Harry what it was, instead of being all dodgy about it? Sure, Molly was there, and maybe he didn’t want Molly to know about it, but there are any number of ways that he could have given the mirror to Harry in private—so why didn’t he? He’s usually all for being open and honest with Harry, so I don’t understand why he wouldn’t have been in this situation.
I also don’t understand why he didn’t remind Harry of the mirror when Harry went through that whole thing where he snuck into Umbridge’s office and used her fire to contact Sirius. Or, for that matter, why Harry didn’t think to use it instead of sneaking into Umbridge’s office. It says in the book that he spends two whole weeks trying to think of ways to contact Sirius, yet it never once occurs to him that Sirius had given him something to help him do that very thing? Sure, he didn’t know what it was, and thought it might be dangerous, but he could have checked to see what it was, at the very least. And if he had, he would have realized that using the mirror would have been a much better and safer method than sneaking into the Umbridge’s office.
Basically, the amount of convenient things that had to happen in order for Sirius to end up at the Ministry for Bellatrix to kill him is way too much for me.
Now that I’m done ranting, let’s get into the stuff I liked. Don’t worry, I did like things about this book. I did rate it 4 stars after all.
I loved McGonagall so much in this book. I liked her before, of course, but man, every single scene she was in with Umbridge was the best. During Harry’s career consultation, when she told Umbridge that Harry had received high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts classes given by a competent teacher, I was rolling. Really, I just loved it anytime one of the professors put Umbridge in her place, and McGonagall did it the most, and in the funniest ways.
I really liked seeing Harry step up and be a leader in this book. I mean, sure, the DA was Hermione’s idea, and Harry was not super into the idea at first. Once they actually started, though, it was cool to see him be a little more active in helping his fellow students. I actually wished we could have seen a little more of the lessons.
The Exploration of Characters
Another thing I really liked about the DA (and this book in general) was that it opened us up to getting to know other students at Hogwarts better. Maybe I just haven’t been paying close enough attention, but it seemed like for most of the series up to this point, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and (to a certain extent) Draco Malfoy were the only students that mattered, while everyone else more or less faded into the background. In this book, we get to know more about people who have been there the whole time and we also got to meet some interesting new characters. I especially loved Luna and Ginny in this book. Ginny has, of course, been around since the beginning, and she plays a pretty important role in book 2, but in this book, I felt like she really came into her own as a character, instead of just being Ron’s little sister who has a crush on Harry.
I loved Fred and George in this book. I always love Fred and George, of course (who doesn’t?), but getting to see them at their best fighting Umbridge in their own mischievous way was amazing.
It feels kind of weird to put Umbridge in the “positives” section, but I’m not doing it because I liked her as a person. I hated her. But dang, is she a freaking amazing villain and such a fascinating character. I loved to hate her, and I loved the way her storyline ended.
The only thing is that I wish Harry’s line in the movie was something that had actually happened in the books. In case you don’t know, in the Order of the Phoenix movie, when Harry and Hermione lead Umbridge to the forest and she gets taken away by the centaurs, she begs Harry to tell the centaurs she’s innocent (or something like that, it’s been a while since I saw the movie). His response is “I’m sorry, Professor, but I must not tell lies.” What a powerful line, and something that should totally have happened in the book.
This post is already way too long, so I’m going to keep this section short.
Overall, I did really enjoy this book, aside from the ending. I had a good time reading it, and I’m excited to finally move on to the last two books of the series.
That’s all I had for this post today! Thank you so much for reading! I’ll see you next time!