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Sunday, June 12, 2005

cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

G & I wanted to prepare ourselves for the release of Harry Potter book 6, and when G found an unabridged book-on-tape edition of book 5 at the library right before a long road trip, it seemed like perfect timing. Normally, I don't do books on tape very often (if at all); G does more since he has a long commute to work right now. At first it took me a while to warm up to the reader's voice, but he did such a great job with all the different character's voices that it was delightful to listen to. It was also fun to enjoy the book together and talk about what we remembered and didn't remember, or speculate about things. As long as our road trip was, The Order of the Phoenix was longer-- we didn't have time to finish the book on the road. But that worked out fine for me: G listened to the rest on his work commute for the next few days, and I just read the last few chapters in our copy of the book.

Reading this book made me want to go back and read all the other Harry Potter books, too (the practical part of me realizes both that I don't have time for that right now, and that there are lots of other books I want to read-- maybe I will re-read them all before book seven comes out). Sometimes I think that Rowling's writing is not so fabulous (on the level of wording or style), but somehow the characters she creates are so memorable and likable-- which is a far more powerful literary gift than perfect style.

One of the interesting things about this book is the different kinds of evil Rowling presents. Umbridge is clearly an awful woman, and she is evil-- she uses dark means to what she considers to be "good" ends, and she is very interested in power and control (without even the wisdom or the skill to be able to manage them well-- it's made quite clear she's not nearly as talented in magic-practicing as the other Hogwarts teachers, as exhibited by her inability to clean up the portable swamp Fred & George created in a hallway). Umbridge is clearly evil-- she is both like and un-like Voldemort. And, just as in the real world, Harry has to learn that not all evil people are in league with each other. There are plenty of evil people even in supposedly good institutions.

Title:Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Author:J. K. Rowling
Date published:2003
Genre:Fantasy / Young Adult
Series:Harry Potter
Number of pages:870
Notes:Second "reading".


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