Monday, April 6, 2015

Emotional Range Of A Teaspoon

I have finally gotten a chance to read (and finish) the fifth Harry Potter book.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling is one fat book chock full of stuff.  I have to admit, this is the book that marks a bit of a decline in my enjoyment of the series, but still lots of stuff to love.  As with previous HP rereads I will skip the recap as a detailed one can be found here and go straight to my varied and very personal thoughts.
Size-One of the most notable things to me about this book is the sheer size.  It comes in at a whopping 870 pages and a hefty 257,045 words.  In my very own opinion, I think this book was about 200 pages too long.  There was a lot of great stuff in here, but there were a couple of chapters that I admit, I usually skip during my rereads.  This also reminds me why as much as I love actual books, sometime an e-reader can come in handy when I am trying to read a tome this size in between calls.

Politics - I have mentioned wizarding politics before and in previous books I found them to be interesting.  In this book I find I have mixed feelings about them.  Part of the problem is the sheer amount of the book devoted to the magical bureaucrats.  I know that the age of the reader is assumed to be a bit older as the character's age...but it gets a little heavy for your average preteen/teen...and for the adult audience too.  I also found that while I agreed in general with the political premise the author put forth, I found it to start to get a bit preachy and having read the whole series, this is just the beginning of this complaint, sorry.  All of that being said, I understand how the politics of the government, school, and society all play a role in allowing Voldemort to return, and only wish it was a bit more subtle.

More Wizarding World - One of the things this book gives me that I love is even more insight into how the wizarding world works.  I think my absolute favorite thing about this series is the world building and this book uses part of its heft to deliver just that.  Here were my favorite glimpses of the daily life of a wizard.
     The Ministry of Magic - As Harry makes his way through the Ministry of Magic to attend his hearing you see glimpses of an office at work in a magical way.  They have their own version of rush hour using the Floo Network, memo's fly around as magic planes, and window's show whatever weather the temperamental weather wizards decide upon.  There are various offices, jobs and just like any other office building a pecking order.
     St. Mungo's - My absolute, without a doubt favorite idea in this book is the magical hospital with it's various wards for various magical maladies.  If I could have any job in the wizarding world, it would probably be as a healer.  Obviously with my day job as an EMT and my background in medicine I find the various incarnations of fantasy medicine to be fascinating.  St. Mungo's is no exception and I (being the super dork that I am) could probably read a whole book dedicated to the various magical ailments and their wizarding cures.
     O.W.L's - By the time Harry and friends get to their fifth year, they are expected to be able to pass their O.W.L's and the results will help them determine what to study in the future and what potential jobs they can hold.  I like this part because it serves as both a reality check in this crazy fantastical school and a reminder that wizards need jobs to.  It was interesting to see the potential future these kids have (even if as many people have mentioned the majority are with the government) and to realize that they are going to go on to hopefully find partners, maybe have kids, career's and a home to pay for.

Growing Up- This book shows us a lot of our favorite (and not so favorite) characters hitting those crucial teen years of angst.  We see this mostly in Harry as he not only has to cope with this insane Voldemort thing and all the drama it entails, but also with puberty, girls, and grasping that he can't
stay at Hogwarts forever.  Ron and Hermione also go through their own changes, though I like to think Hermione does it with the most grace, but that may be attributed to the fact that she has always been a bit old for her age.  Ginny also has blossomed from the shy little sister of the Weasly's to her own snappy, capable and awesome self. Watching the Fred and George make a decision about their own future, regardless of what anybody else wants is inspiring.  Neville starts coming into his own here, and with the introduction of Luna, and the formation of the DA we see our peeps branching out of their protected Gryffindor tower to mingle, work and play with a larger group.  Sadly we also see some of the down sides of growing up.  Harry has to come to terms with the fact that his idolized parents could just as cruel as any other teenager.  Sirius is not able to stand his isolation and forced inactivity and his inherent recklessness is subconsciously projected onto Harry causing no end of problems. Percy and his falling out with his family is particularly brutal, even if it does have a ring of truth to it. This growing up aspect of the series while inevitable, makes me a little sad as the amazing sense of wonder Harry and his friends experienced in previous books has naturally waned.

Movie - Of all the movies in the series, I find this one to be the most disappointing.  As always I understand that converting a 870 page book into a 2 hour movie is going to result in some cuts, but to me this resulted in a choppy, disjointed movie.  I felt that if you hadn't read the book, the movie would not make a whole lot of sense.  That being said my Hubbin watched it and said he could follow it just fine, so it may just be me.  To me I felt a lot of what I liked about the book got cut or shortened, and what drove me crazy about the book took center stage.

Ok so this post is getting as long as the book, and even though there is so much else I could talk about (Grimmauld Place, The Order, the prophecy, Firenze, Occlumancy, Cho, and everything else!) I'm pretty sure it would just be rehashing the book, so instead I will let you all go back and read (or reread) it yourself and you can tell me what you think.
What is your take on this book?   Do you think I am being overly harsh over a "childrens" book?   How long do you think it will take me to read the next book?

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