As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It’s been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero’s non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief… or will it?
The fifth book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series follows the darkest year yet for our young wizard, who finds himself knocked down a peg or three after the events of last year. Somehow, over the summer, gossip (usually traced back to the magic world’s newspaper, the Daily Prophet) has turned Harry’s tragic and heroic encounter with Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament into an excuse to ridicule and discount the teen. Even Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, has come under scrutiny by the Ministry of Magic, which refuses to officially acknowledge the terrifying truth that Voldemort is back. Enter a particularly loathsome new character: the toadlike and simpering (“hem, hem“) Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, who takes over the vacant position of Defense Against Dark Arts teacher–and in no time manages to become the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, as well. Life isn’t getting any easier for Harry Potter. With an overwhelming course load as the fifth years prepare for their Ordinary Wizarding Levels examinations (O.W.Ls), devastating changes in the Gryffindor Quidditch team lineup, vivid dreams about long hallways and closed doors, and increasing pain in his lightning-shaped scar, Harry’s resilience is sorely tested.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, more than any of the four previous novels in the series, is a coming-of-age story. Harry faces the thorny transition into adulthood, when adult heroes are revealed to be fallible, and matters that seemed black-and-white suddenly come out in shades of gray. Gone is the wide-eyed innocent, the whiz kid of Sorcerer’s Stone. Here we have an adolescent who’s sometimes sullen, often confused (especially about girls), and always self-questioning. Confronting death again, as well as a startling prophecy, Harry ends his year at Hogwarts exhausted and pensive. Readers, on the other hand, will be energized as they enter yet again the long waiting period for the next title in the marvelous, magical series. (Ages 9 and older) –Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Grade 4 Up-Harry has just returned to Hogwarts after a lonely summer. Dumbledore is uncommunicative and most of the students seem to think Harry is either conceited or crazy for insisting that Voldemort is back and as evil as ever. Angry, scared, and unable to confide in his godfather, Sirius, the teen wizard lashes out at his friends and enemies alike. The head of the Ministry of Magic is determined to discredit Dumbledore and undermine his leadership of Hogwarts, and he appoints nasty, pink-cardigan-clad Professor Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and High Inquisitor of the school, bringing misery upon staff and students alike. This bureaucratic nightmare, added to Harry’s certain knowledge that Voldemort is becoming more powerful, creates a desperate, Kafkaesque feeling during Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. The adults all seem evil, misguided, or simply powerless, so the students must take matters into their own hands. Harry’s confusion about his godfather and father, and his apparent rejection by Dumbledore make him question his own motives and the condition of his soul. Also, Harry is now 15, and the hormones are beginning to kick in. There are a lot of secret doings, a little romance, and very little Quidditch or Hagrid (more reasons for Harry’s gloom), but the power of this book comes from the young magician’s struggles with his emotions and identity. Particularly moving is the unveiling, after a final devastating tragedy, of Dumbledore’s very strong feelings of attachment and responsibility toward Harry. Children will enjoy the magic and the Hogwarts mystique, and young adult readers will find a rich and compelling coming-of-age story as well.
Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* No, you can’t put it down, but believe me, you’ll wish you could. This is not an easy book to lug around. Its worldwide hype aside, the fifth installment in Harry Potter’s saga should be judged on the usual factors: plot, characters, and the quality of the writing. So how does it fare? One thing emerges quickly: Rowling has not lost her flair as a storyteller or her ability to keep coming up with new gimcracks to astound her readers. But her true skills lie in the way she ages Harry, successfully evolving him from the once downtrodden yet hopeful young boy to this new, gangly teenager showing all the symptoms of adolescence–he is sullen, rude, and contemptuous of adult behavior, especially hypocrisy. This last symptom of the maturing Harry fits especially well into the plot, which finds almost all of the grown-ups in the young wizard’s life saying one thing and doing another, especially those at the Ministry of Magic, who discredit Harry in the media to convince the citizenry that Voldemort is not alive. Rowling effectively uses this plot strand as a way of introducing a kind of subtext in which she takes on such issues as governmental lying and the politics of personal destruction, but she makes her points in ways that will be clearly understood by young readers. To fight for truth and justice–and to protect Harry–the Order of the Phoenix has been reconstituted, but young Potter finds squabbling and hypocrisy among even this august group. And in a stunning and bold move, Rowling also allows Harry (and readers) to view an incident from the life of a teenage James Potter that shows him to be an insensitive bully, smashing the iconic view Harry has always had of his father. Are there problems with the book? Sure. Even though children, especially, won’t protest, it could be shorter, particularly since Rowling is repetitious with descriptions (Harry is always “angry”; ultimate bureaucrat Doris Umbridge always looks like a toad). But these are quibbles about a rich, worthy effort that meets the very high expectations of a world of readers. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
The Potternaut rolls on, picking up more size than speed but propelling 15-year-old Harry through more hard tests of character and magical ability. Rowling again displays her ability to create both likable and genuinely scary characters–most notable among the latter being a pair of Dementors who accost Harry in a dark alley in the opening chapter. Even more horrible, Ministry of Magic functionary Dolores Umbridge descends upon Hogwarts with a tinkly laugh, a taste in office decor that runs to kitten paintings, and the authority, soon exercised, to torture students, kick Harry off the Quidditch team, fire teachers, and even to challenge Dumbledore himself. Afflicted with sudden fits of adolescent rage, Harry also has worries, from upcoming exams and recurrent eerie dreams to the steadfast refusal of the Magical World’s bureaucracy to believe that Voldemort has returned. Steadfast allies remain, including Hermione, whose role here is largely limited to Chief Explainer, and a ragtag secret order of adults formed to protect him from dangers, which they characteristically keep to themselves until he finds out about them the hard way. Constructed, like GOBLET OF FIRE, of multiple, weakly connected plot lines and rousing, often hilarious set pieces, all set against a richly imagined backdrop, this involves its characters once again in plenty of adventures while moving them a step closer to maturity. And it’s still impossible to predict how it’s all going to turn out. (Fiction. 12-15)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books September 2003
Harry Potter’s latest adventure reveals an admirable hero somewhat the worse for wear: his grief at the death of Cedric, his fear of (and connection to) the evil Lord Voldemort, and his emotional distance from Professor Dumbledore combine to make Harry a bit short-tempered, a bit short-sighted, and a bit more recognizably human. Rowling eases readers back into Harry’s world-and-Harry’s precarious existence-with nary a ripple: the suburban peace of the Dursleys’ manicured lives is shattered by the intrusion of dementors, sent by a rogue in the Ministry of Magic and seeking to do Harry serious injury. A wizard rescue party retrieves Harry from the world of Muggles and sets him down amidst the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society that plots Voldemort’s final downfall. With an escalating love life, academic complications at school, and a Ministry of Magic determined to ignore the obvious, Harry is in an adolescent uproar. Revelations about Sirius Black, Professor Snape, and Harry’s late father cause the boy to question all he holds true, and his confusion clouds his judgment. A roaring set of practical jokes by Fred and George Weasley against a politically appointed, obnoxious new professor at Hogwarts lightens the tone just in time for the Order’s tragic confrontation with Voldemort and his malevolent minions. Rowling cheerfully turns her own conventions on th@ir cars, and the result is a surprising and enjoyable ride. While Harry’s much-touted love interest fizzles before it fires, familiar characters achieve a bit more depth. Ginny Weasley starts to come into her own, Hermione employs a dryly wicked wit, and Dumbledore reveals, if not feet, at least a little toe of clay. It’s no longer quite clear that all will work out in the end; the lines are being drawn, but, as exemplified by Percy Weasley, not everyone is on the right side. Rowling has managed to make Harry and his fate a bit less predictable, which, in the fifth of a seven-volume series, is a very good thing. JMD
Horn Book Magazine
(September 1, 2003; 0-439-35806-X)
(Intermediate, Middle School) This review is much like the proverbial tree falling in an uninhabited forest: unlikely to make a sound. But for the record, HP5 is the best in the series since Azkaban, and far superior to the turgid HP4. With Rowling once again f
From the Publisher
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling, the fifth in the bestselling series has been scheduled for release on Saturday, June 21, 2003.
“We are thrilled to announce the publication date. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is absolutely superb and will delight all J.K. Rowling’s fans. She has written a brilliant and utterly compelling new adventure, which begins with the words:
- “The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive…. The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four.
“Later in the novel, J.K. Rowling writes:
- “Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses. ‘It is time,’ he said ‘for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything.’
-Barbara Marcus, President of Scholastic Children’s Books in the United States, and Nigel Newton, Chief Executive of Bloomsbury Publishing in Britain
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is over 255,000 words compared with over 191,000 words in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The new book is 38 chapters long, one more than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The next volume in the thrilling, moving, bestselling Harry Potter series will reach readers June 21, 2003 — and it’s been worth the wait!We could tell you, but then we’d have to Obliviate your memory.