Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I spent most of Saturday reading, and finished Order of the Phoenix in the evening, over a plate of pad Thai at Nit’s. Oddly enough, the table next to me held a mom taking her kid out to dinner, and I could tell that the girl was craning her neck to see what I was reading, and then she finally whispered to her mom “look…look mom, she’s reading Harry Potter!” I suppose I don’t really look like the Harry Potter reading type, because her mother stole a glance at me and when I grinned she turned pink and studied her pot roast intently.

One thing I really like about Order of the Phoenix is that Harry stops being a little saint and starts being a bitchy adolescent, screaming at his friends, breaking Dumbledore’s office possessions, being irritable all the time. It really humanizes his character for me, especially when he finds out that his father was not exactly a little darling either. There’s a lot of disillusionment going on, what with Sirius dying and Harry’s father turning out to be a vindictive, spiteful little shit. Which I think makes Harry stronger, because he is really forced to think and act for himself.

There’s also some interesting foreshadowing in that infamous scene with Snape, when Snape calls Lily a mudblood. Snape, clearly, is obsessed with lineage, as evidenced in the Half-Blood Prince.

I also think it’s intriguing that Rowling makes Sirius into a kind of unlikable character in this book, a marked contrast with Dumbledore in the next one. Sirius seems reckless, impatient, especially in his dealings with Kreacher. Indeed, as a father figure, Sirius does not really seem like the best choice. The loss of Sirius seems like it would bring Harry closer to Lupin and the Weasleys, which is perhaps the goal. Sadly, I do not think that the Weasleys will make it to the end unscathed…the only question for me is which one(s) will die.

I also think that it’s interesting to see Dumbledore’s great weakness, love, revealed. We have Dumbledore confessing to Harry that he kept secrets from him to protect him. Yet, at the same time, Dumbledore puts love forth as one of the strongest powers on Earth, the very power that protects Harry. I think that love will be very important in book seven, because it’s one of those big things that guides people’s choices. Snape, for example, may redeem himself through love.

The book also made me wonder about ghosts and portraits. Clearly, the portraits are able to keep up with current events and exchange information. In a way, people with portraits are not truly dead, although their bodies might not be present. Likewise with the ghosts, and I would like to learn more about how ghosts are created, since Nick is so coy about it in the exchange that he has with Harry at the end of the book. Dumbledore doesn’t strike me as the type who is afraid of death, so I doubt he’s going to come back as a ghost, but his portrait is certainly going to make an appearance, I’ll bet.

I also feel like Harry has a lot to learn, as demonstrated by the duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore. Obviously, Dumbledore is insanely skilled and powerful…and I wonder if Harry is strong enough to take Voldemort on alone. If Harry isn’t, who is going to teach him the skills he needs to defeat Voldemort?

The giant squid pops up, once again, lending further credence to my suspicions that the squid is important! I don’t know how or when, but expect a crucial squid sighting in book seven, my friends.

Reading the book also brought home the differences between the book and the film for me. There were definitely some things which should have been in the movie, but were not, in my opinion. But maybe it’s because I’ve read the book that I think this…perhaps people who have only watched the movies think the film is fine, even though they’re missing out on the nuances of many of the characters.

[Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix]