Tuesday, July 2, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 1-4

This past week, I started Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with the first four chapters: "Dudley Demented," "A Peck of Owls," "The Advance Guard," and "Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place." (Spoilers  ahead for this book and the series as a whole.)

The mood at the start of this fifth book is one of frustration, as Harry is left in misery at the Dursleys (intentionally, on Dumbledore's orders) without an inkling of what is going on in the wizarding world.  Rowling does a really good job of conveying Harry's very specific brand of teen angst, and his all-caps ranting at his best friends once he arrives at Grimmauld Place helps the reader to empathize with him and also to understand some of the feelings (including resentment and anger) that have been building in him over the past several books. Though not everything Harry says about Ron and Hermione is accurate, Rowling really gets at the heart of his emotional state in that scene. 

Also handled well is Petunia Dursley's relationship to the wizarding world. Seeing her clear comprehension of the implications of the return of Voldemort adds a sense of foreboding to the opening of this novel, and also raises a lot of questions. I honestly don't remember the exact significance of the Howler she receives, and I'm looking forward to revisiting that. 

The other thing I really love is the introduction of Harry to some of the members of the Order of the Phoenix. The dialogue among characters like Moody, Lupin, and Tonks is really fun and witty, despite the seriousness of their errand in collecting Harry from Privet Drive. I also found myself comparing this departure from the Dursleys with the one that occurs in book 7, during which, of course, Moody is killed.  The knowledge that these beloved characters don't survive the series does make these introductions bittersweet in a way they weren't on my earlier readings of this book, all of which took place before the series was finished.

I'm really excited to spend the rest of my summer with this book.  So far, it's every bit as good as I remembered! 

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