Ren the Unclean's Reviews > Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
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's review
Aug 01, 2007

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy
Recommended for: Hardcore Harry Potter fans only.

This is the worst Harry Potter book. The characterization is unbelievable and annoying, taking the various holes in the world J.K. has created with Harry Potter and throwing them in the face of the reader with the expectation that they will accept anything at this point. Events in the world that main characters (and by extension, the reader) find outrageous and crazy are accepted by everyone else in the world without adequate reasons for their acceptance.

Harry whines incessantly throughout this book. The entire time he is complaining about not getting what he wants and people not liking him, while turning away attempts by his friends to help him. He sort of acts like this throughout the rest of the series, but his outlook of wanting help from everyone except those who are trying to help him is really stressed in this book.

This book also contains one of J.K.'s now signature death scenes. Rather than turning the death of a character into something touching and important to the reader, it happens in one sentence and it is not really apparent what exactly is happening. I had to go back and re-read the death scene after they started talking about it in later chapters because I was not sure that it actually had happened. Every one of the deaths throughout the rest of the book is (poorly) written in exactly this same way.

In short, the only reason to read this book is because it is part of the series. I would almost suggest just watching the movie instead, as it is about five times better. I only wish that this book did not bring down the rest of the series by making the inconsistancies and logical problems in J.K.'s world abundantly obvious.
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05/22/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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Kari This is my favorite of the series! I truly loved this one because it had soooo much information and entertainment. My kids disagree with me. But what do they know? lol

Kari Oops! I'm new to Goodreads. I was trying to post a comment on someone else's review. You and my kids obviously AGREE on this one so you probably think I'm a lunatic after reading my earlier comment. Sorry about that! :)

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 16, 2009 09:12PM) (new)

I agree that he complains non stop. I mean it's like, "Harry, shut up already!" I know he has it tough, I know that someone is trying to kill him, but shouldn't the main character be someone that we want to aspire after? Well I sure don't want to be like Harry and I think anyone that does is a lunatic. Great review by the way.

message 4: by Alana (last edited May 07, 2010 12:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alana This is the second review I've come across that rants about Rowling's "abundantly obvious" holes and flaws and yet has not given any specific supporting evidence or examples of them. These reviews are leaving gaping wide holes, I say! I don't necessarily believe that no holes exist but it's hard to debate such bare-boned accusations.

On second thought I might rather continue reading in the blissfulness of my ignorance than be aware of any inconsistancies in the wizarding world. Phew - close one.

Ren the Unclean Thanks for the comments guys!

The flaws I am referring to are pretty general, and sort of apply to almost everything that happens in the book. JK basically just has things happen to advance the plot or create problems for Harry without actually justifying them within the context of her world.

Here are some examples of flaws specific to this book (spoilers to follow):
- Harry gets into trouble for fighting off dementors using magic, so the Ministry of Magic can detect magic being used, but can't detect dementors flying about in london? This is repeated from when the house elf uses magic in his vicinity and Harry gets blamed for it in a previous book or any time an evil wizard uses magic at all.

- Apparently everyone in the wizarding world except for the members of the order see no reason to believe that Voldemort has returned, despite all the events of the previous books, some of which were VERY public (tri-wizard tourney, quidditch cup).

- Even though he is obviously Voldemort's target, no one in the order sees any reason to give Harry any information about what is going on or any reason not to send him back to Hogwart's. This probably is to justify Harry's frustration throughout the book, but just doesn't make any sense.

- The appointment of Dolores Umbridge as headmaster of Hogwart's is nonsensical, at best. No legitimate institution would put up with her actions, and there is no reason Hogwart's would. Not to mention the fact that Hogwart's is structured like a private institution (Ministry can't kick Harry out), but at certain times (to advance the plot) is under the control of the wizarding gov't (Ministry can appoint Umbridge as headmaster).

- Denial of Voldemort by key people within the Ministry for basically no reason, even though they have direct and specific evidence that some of them have even witnessed.

Those are off the top of my head, given that I haven't read this book in quite a while.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I completely agree about the death scene. I think Rowling handled the dealing-with-death part better than death itself. Although one could argue that sometimes death is just that swift and can catch one off-guard. As for the holes...
The first one I think is explained somewhat in the 6th book (about the under-aged wand use). As for the other holes it seems like those are just part of Rowling's predictable attempts to steer the plot into the great I-told-you-so ending. But I must say the Tri-wizard cup incident did not happen in front of everyone so the government could easily, albeit foolishly, cover it up which they did. I believe they did this mostly to prevent mass hysteria. I mean if the guy isn't really back the gov't is just crying wolf.

Ren the Unclean Heh, I don't know that that argument holds up in this case, unfortunately for J.K. I don't give Rowling enough credit to assume she meant to catch the reader off-guard with every one of her death scenes.

I agree with your analysis of the plot holes being a way for Rowling to steer the story the way she wanted to. That is sort of why I have an issue with them. Instead of thoroughly thinking through her world and writing about it once she had it fully defined, she breaks her own rules or doesn't fully motivate events simply because she needs to advance the plot and isn't a good enough writer to have any other recourse but to expect the reader to accept the nonsensical.

Thanks for the comment!

Patrick I didn't even realize Sirius had died until I re-read the sentence. You'd think that she'd put more detail into a death

Shaun Just to talk about a couple of your points...

The Ministry can't detect Dementors because they don't have the "trace" on them. It's not like they're amazingly powerful. And the trace is on the house, not on the person.

Not everyone in the wizarding world believes the Ministry. Didn't you read the book? People send Harry letters saying they believe him, students say they're on his side, etc etc.

Hogwarts is the safest place there is, that's why they send him back there.

They deny Voldemort only to the public, because they don't want to start widespread panic. And they also don't want to believe that the most dangerous wizard is back, but I think they knew.

Taryn I can never decide whether this is my favourite or least favourite book of the series. I flutter back and forth between "Harry is whining and stuff happens and Harry's an idiot" and then I go "But DUMBLEDORE'S ARMY HAPPENS" which I always thought was the Coolest Thing Ever, and also it contains Luna Lovegood, whom I really quite like.

Ren the Unclean @Shaun
Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I surely misremembered some things, which is why I put that disclaimer, however...

The MM detects when Harry fights off the dementors, which didn't take place at his house.

That is a good point about the letters, I was making a broad generalization. I have more of a problem with the people in power not believing him for what amounts to no reason at all, since they are the ones who actually have an effect on the storyline.

Hogwarts is the safest place for him despite the fact that it has been breached numerous times by Voldemort, students have died there, etc... JK having one of her characters say it is the safest place is not the same as making it a reasonable conclusion through a well thought out plot and good writing.

I get that they are trying to hide it from the public, but then JK uses that as a platform for them to actively try to undermine Harry and Dumbledore (by putting Harry on trial, appointing Umbridge, etc...). It just doesn't make any sense.

Almost all of the issues I have with this book (the four you mentioned included) amount to JK introducing plot holes in order to drive her story, as Elise points out in her comment above. Don't get me wrong, I really like this series, which is why this book was such a disappointment for me.

I liked the Dumbledore's army thing as well, but I didn't like how it didn't really go anywhere. They just sort of dissolve and don't get really mentioned again until the last book, where JK sort of says they are better at fighting because they were in the army, if I remember correctly.

Thanks for the comments guys!

Charlotte Some things that can be further addressed (because I can't help myself):

The house elf and Harry USE magic, which creates a large force to detect. The Dementors are magical creatures who are just existing magically. There are tons of magical beings, especially in London I can imagine. They can't detect them all individually, only bursts of magic usage.

The reason nobody gives Harry any information is because Dumbledore believes that Voldemort is possessing/reading Harry's mind, which he isn't yet but ends up doing eventually.

The point of Umbridge taking over Hogwarts is to imply the beginning of a potential dictatorship (re: rebirth of Voldemort)... anyway that's how I read it. Okay, so maybe she's simplifying political turmoil a bit, but it IS a children's book. As to Hogwarts being a private institution, I'm not sure that's necessarily true. It seems to be the only wizarding academy in the UK, and yes, they do pay for their education, but I'm not sure that necessarily implies that they have full autonomy. I won't claim to know enough about the British schooling system to say any more about that, but I do know that in the earlier books, JK explains that the only reason Dumbledore has such power at Hogwarts is because Fudge respects him. She implies that he would otherwise be able to have much more say in the school, which he later takes advantage of, once he decides to discredit Dumbledore. But yes, the bit with them not being able to kick Harry out is a little dodgy... To be fair, this happens at the beginning of the book; Fudge is still transitioning between respect for Dumbledore and fear of Dumbledore.

Denial of Voldemort is caused by fear. It may be a simplified theme, but a common literary theme nonetheless. Yeah, okay Fudge is supposed to be the leader of the wizarding world, but it is made very clear that we're supposed to see him as a bumbling idiot.

As to the death scenes, I'm not sure how else she was supposed to have done it... spelled it out for us in gory detail? Again, it's a children's book, and also, it happens in the middle of a battle scene. Death isn't all that glorious sometimes, and I think she does a pretty good job of making it sudden and shocking. I don't see anything wrong with having to read the scene several times to understand it, because if you've ever had anyone close to you die, that IS kinda how it goes.

That being said, Harry IS way too whiney. It's awkward. And I'm not saying there aren't plot holes in general, but she does explain most of them eventually, you just have to look at the whole picture rather than nit-picking each sentence. So okay, your entire review is legitimized by "recommended for: Hardcore Harry Potter fans only."

Ren the Unclean Thanks for the comment!

Yep, I think you are right about the Dementors being magical and are therefore somehow untraceable. The trace thing on Harry is pretty suspect and full of holes on its own, even without that.

Good point about Voldemort reading Harry's mind. Though, Harry already knows enough about the Order to put them all in danger at this point anyway. For instance, that they are hiding out in Sirius' family house.

My original point about the MM's influence over the school is really just that the appointment of Umbridge isn't justifiable in any way. The apparent contradiction in the MM's power is just icing on the cake.

I mentioned this in my above comment: If it was just them being afraid I would be ok with it, but they are actively working against the most respected/powerful wizard (Dumbledore) and the most well known wizard (Harry Potter) in the world. Both of whom are obviously trying to stop Voldemort and saying as much to the MM.

I get what you are saying about her death scenes, Elise made a similar point above. They just didn't play that way for me. Having to reread a scene because because the events are unclear is not the reading equivalent of being shocked. Check out A Game of Thrones for unexpected death written spectacularly.

Thanks again for the comment! Don't get the wrong idea, I think the HP series is fantastic, this one just didn't hold up for me, unfortunately.

Grace There is something very wrong with u.

message 15: by Aron (new) - rated it 1 star

Aron Another contradiction: In book 4 the Daily Prophet is constantly attacking the MM. In book 5 it's under it's thumb. I also agree the Umbridge thing is way over the top. I had the feeling that by this point Rowling hates Harry and takes sadistic pleasure in torturing him. And we are to believe the most powerful wizard of all time is going to let the MM take over his school without him fighting back? And even if we are to believe Dumbeldore's ridiculous excuse why it took him a year to explain to Harry what's going on, why couldn't he have found an intermediary Harry trusted (like Sirius) to caution him and explain why the big D is keeping his distance? This review is spot on.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with the death part. In the fourth book it was also short. (cedric's death). I had to reread it 4 times, to understand the concept.

BOOM, he's dead. (here's me) "wait, what he's dead? Like, alive on one sentence dead the next? Uh.. That's it? I'm going to read that again..."

message 17: by Ren the Unclean (last edited Mar 23, 2011 02:51PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Ren the Unclean @Olivia
Yeah, I just watched the movie version of HP4 last night, and it occurred to me that I had forgotten all about Cedric's death.
You are right, it is a great (bad?) example of her death scenes.

message 18: by Kimberley (last edited Sep 07, 2011 07:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kimberley I never liked Sirius so I didn't pay attention to his death scene and didn't care if he was dead or not, but I've heard many people say it was confusing. However I can't find plot holes. Please elaborate.

Brooke How could you dislike Sirius? :0
<3 the review. It's perfect.

Ren the Unclean @Kimathy
Check out some of my previous comments, I enumerate the inconsistencies there. I think it is sloppy writing and world building that lead to inconsistencies and nonsense rather than specific plot holes.

Thanks for the kind words, glad you like it.

Emilymaingi I can see what you're saying about Harry's characterization in this book. However, you should keep a few things in mind. Due to Delores Jane Umbridge, which negative adjectives cannot adequately express my HATE for her- he is ornery for a reason. Of course he objects all the people trying to help and communicate with him- isn't that what depressed people do best? I think Jo was very accurate in portraying a correct picture of how some people deal with depression, stress, and anxiety. Plus, he's a teenager. We have a tendency to get extremely moody.

Due to my lovely brother, I already knew of Sirius' death before I read it. The way she wrote it wasn't a huge problem for me- sometimes death isn't just about the actual act- it's the reaction. Harry used an UNFORGIVABLE curse on his murderer- showing how loyal he is as well as how he reacts to this last straw. He just had the crappiest year of his life, and now, his father figure is dead. I can understand why some people would not like this book- it gets very dark at points, and it shows human vulnerability very well.

Julexis Marie González Lebrón when I saw the first movie of Harry potter I got really excited. it was the first time I had seen the movie, so my aunt saw how interested I was and she gave me the order of the phoenix and it changed my life. I really love J. K. Rowling and all of her books are interesting

Smoking Squirrel I hate this book. I stopped reading it when I was 14 and I was a huge potter fan but this book destroyed my love for Harry Potter forever. I'm currently trying to reread the series and read the last two books for the first time but right now I'm in the fifth book and I want to throw it away and forget about the whole thing. This book is so fucking shitty.

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