Ah! They just keep getting better and better!
I seemed to recall liking “The Goblet of Fire” the best, but on this read-through, I had to say that “Order of the Phoenix” was better. My first impression of this one had been that Harry was a moody teenager, but in this read-through I felt I couldn’t really fault him–he wasn’t being moody for no reason, he was just angry (and rightly so) that everybody was keeping him in the dark, and he was the one person who went all summer without hearing a scrap of news about what Voldemort or the resistance movement were up to. Furthermore, he’s pissed that after everything he’d been through, Dumbledore wouldn’t so much as look at him. He’s hurt, he’s angry, and he’s scared that he keeps having dreams that seem to be from Voldemort’s point of view–yet no one bothers to explain to him what this might mean until the very end. And while many stories might create mystery for mystery’s sake, and it can seem like a device when you finally find out why, in this one the explanations made perfect sense. They were satisfying, although regrettable. If only Dumbledore had confided in him sooner… if only Harry had taken his Occlumancy lessons with Snape seriously… things might have turned out different. If you are one of the few people on earth who haven’t read or seen the film yet, I won’t spoil it for you–but this one doesn’t end happy. From Book 4 on, the losses at the end of each book mount, ascending in significance. Poor Harry… but he *has* to be all alone in the end. Just him and Voldemort. The prophecy requires it–and so does the narrative, to maximize the emotional power of the final confrontation.
At the same time, Book 5 was laugh-out-loud funny in many parts, mostly because of the antics of the Weasley twins and the solidarity of Hogwarts students in general against Umbridge (who was SUCH a fabulously hatable character!) I was still impressed at how similar this book really was to the film, considering its length. The filmmakers really did manage to boil it down to its essential components and leave out the rest. But there were still parts that I’d forgotten–some of the details of how Harry tried to contact Sirius before going to the Ministry, and I actually don’t recall Harry getting a lifelong Quidditch ban from Umbridge in the film, did that happen? The demise of Harry’s relationship with Cho Chang was hinted at in the film, but in the book it’s so amusingly awkward. I was glad he got the chance to date her, but she’s so over-emotional and convoluted about everything. I loved how Hermione made sense of her behavior for Harry and Ron as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, but fortunately, Hermione herself isn’t nearly so illogical.
I dread Book 6, knowing how it’s going to end… but I also am looking forward to it since that was by FAR the worst film. It was so chaotic you could hardly tell what was going on. So I probably don’t remember quite a lot of that one!
My rating: *****