Okay, time to get real: between the upcoming holiday and a project at work that has become something of a behemoth, life is eating my face. In other words, this post might not be up to my usual brilliance. But I’ll try my best.
I hate this book. I do. Not because I think it’s poorly written or anything. In fact, it’s probably the opposite. Order of the Phoenix might be written too well. I’m also going to say that the reason I hate Book 5 has nothing to do with “moody Harry.” That’s apparently a thing. Did you guys know that? There are some people who hate this book because they say Harry is too moody. These people have probably never been teenagers. (Full disclosure: I wasn’t a moody teenager. I never cared enough about the things that make moody teenagers moody–girls, being popular, not wanting to go to school, wanting to stay out later–so I kinda coasted through my teen years.) Besides, all three of our main characters carry the moody ball at one point or another: Ron in Book 4, Harry in Book 5, and Hermione (more or less) in Book 6.
So, you’re asking yourselves right about now, why do I hate Order of the Phoenix? It make me anxious. It makes me angry that the Ministry is steamrolling over Dumbledore, Harry, and Hogwarts and no one really seems to be doing anything about it. Harry feels powerless and, through Rowling’s writing, so do I. And I hate it. Just the mundane, bureaucratic evil of everyday life makes me uncomfortable. (We will not talk about what the twins do later in the book. No. No, we will not.) Of course, there are things about this book that I absolutely adore: The Order of the Phoenix, Tonks, Luna, the DA. What can I tell you, I’m complicated.
CHAPTER FOUR: NUMBER TWELVE, GRIMMAULD PLACE
We’ve already seen the ways the Wizard world sort of rubs up against the Muggle world, particularly Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4. But, now we see an enchanted house right smack in the middle of a bunch of regular Muggle houses. I remember being pretty blown away by the very idea that this house is hidden between two other houses, literally. While this is not the best example of it, the headquarters of the Order certainly gave me TARDIS-y flashbacks.
This chapter takes the place of the shopping chapter in the earlier books, meaning this is Harry’s reintroduction to the wizarding world after spending the summer with the Dursleys. He gets to see Hermione and the Weasleys again. He’s reunited with Sirius, too. Harry is understandably upset that he’s been ignored for the entire summer and unloads on Ron and Hermione with both barrels. Do wands have barrels? No? Okay, skip it. To make matters worse, Dumbledore is the reason his friends haven’t been in touch. This is the beginning of Dumbledore the Aloof. The guy who Harry looked up to as a mentor and even as a father figure is now going out of his way to ignore him. Hormonal teenager or not, I’d be pissed, too.
CHAPTER FIVE: THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
I’m a big fan of superhero comics. Marvel. DC. It doesn’t matter. Each house has its merits. For example, one of the things that I love most about the DC Universe is its sense of legacy and legacy heroes. There have been two Green Arrows, four Flashes, and five Robins. The Justice Society inspired the Justice League, which inspired the Teen Titans. I love that shit. Why am I telling you this? Because it’s important. And it’s one of the things I like about Order of the Phoenix. We learn about the Order of the Phoenix, the group of witches and wizards who sided with Dumbledore the last time Voldemort tried to start some shit. And, now that ol’ No-Nose is back, the Order is reforming. And, eventually, the Order will inspire Harry and the Potters to form the DA.
I know I’ve said this before, probably somewhere on this blog, but I would love to have stories from the days of the original Order. Who wouldn’t love to see the Potters and the Longbottoms running about, fighting Death Eaters? Speaking of the Potters, what about that scene where Molly calls out Sirius for confusing Harry with James? How sad was that? I can’t imagine what it must be like for Harry to have grown up without parents, but I do know what it feels like to lose a friend–and, let’s be honest, James was more than just a friend to Sirius, they were practically brothers.
It wasn’t until this reread that it became clear to me just how much Rowling hammers home just how egalitarian Dumbledore is. What’s one of the biggest hurdles that the Order faces this time around? Its own membership. People are wary of trusting a group that includes a wanted murderer and a werewolf. On top of that, Dumbledore is reaching out to the other races in an attempt to create a genuine united front against the forces of evil.
CHAPTER SIX: THE NOBLE AND MOST ANCIENT HOUSE OF BLACK
Attention, ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We’re about to fly through a bit of foreshadowing. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened until we pass through the chapter.
My. God. This chapter, you guys. Did any of us have any idea what we were reading when we first read Order of the Phoenix? To think of how important Grimmauld Place and Kreacher become later in the series… Wow. I’m sure we were all really focused on the story Sirius tells Harry about his siblings and the ways that most pure-blood wizard families are all interconnected (which harkens back to Dumbledore’s “We’re All in This Together” shtick).
Oh, and by the way, Sirius had a younger brother named Regulus. Regulus was a Death Eater. Regulus was killed, presumably because he had grown uncomfortable with what Voldemort and the Death Eaters were doing and tried to quit. This could have just been a throwaway detail. Or, at the very least, a way to show that no one is purely evil. But it isn’t. It’s something that becomes a major plot point in the last book. I can’t even, you guys. I can’t. I have completely and totally lost the ability to even.
I feel like there’s more that I should be writing. But, sitting here with a face that’s been eaten and partially digested is making it hard to think.