Harry Potter and the Book of Angst. Well, that’s what I often think of this particular book as. Technically it’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Seriously though, I think this is the book when Harry is at his least likable. Yes, he’s been through a lot, but he keeps taking it out on his friends, and anyone else around. So he spends all of book five being a moody, angsty, and far-too-often dislikable teenager. Unfortunately, it’s quite common in fifteen-year-olds, though this behavior is certainly not limited to a specific age.
Frankly, I think this aspect was nailed by the movie. And no, that’s not a good thing. It just shows that one thing Hollywood can still do well is angsty teenagers. One might think they get a lot of practice for some reason…but that’s a discussion for another day, maybe. This blog is about books after all, not movies.
I found an amusing line in either Order of the Phoenix or Goblet of Fire. Hermione, once again, asks in exasperation if anyone else has ever read Hogwarts: A History because the answer to the question is in said book. Harry and Ron respond that no, they have not, and why would they? Clearly Hermione has the whole thing memorized, and she’ll tell them whatever pertinent information is inside. Hermione Granger, the walking, talking encyclopedia.
But back to today’s book. As you may have guessed, this is my least favorite entry in the series. Harry spends most of it acting like a spoiled brat, Umbridge is an awful human being, and things generally suck. Kudos to Fred and George on the swamp.
Umbridge and the Ministry are what make this book super uncomfortable. Even when it had first come out, I had read enough books set in controlled states to see where things were going, and 1984 is just the most commonly known of the books I have read. I am not a fan of totalitarian states, especially how certain aspects of our lives seem to be creeping ever closer. (Seriously folks, the internet is public space. Anything you put on here can and may be used against you at some point in your lifee, or more than once. If you want it private, keep a diary. In a physical book. Also I suck at diaries, having attemtped it more than once. The closest to success I ever came was keeping a dedicated travel journal in Dublin – it’s a very complete record of my trip, and I’ll never be able to duplicate the feat.)
So Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the book that hits closest to home in far too many ways. You’ve got your angsty teens being angsty teens, you’ve got your government trying to increase its control of your life even though really they’re just trying to cover their own asses, and you’ve got the world looking increasingly bleak as terrorist attacks mount. Many people equate fantasy (or even just fiction) novels to escapism, and I won’t deny it. It makes me very uncomfortable when my books start paralleling real life because I’d rather become engrossed in the story and not have to remember how much the world sucks when I resurface.
That’s not to say I avoid books because they hit too close to home. I’ll read them and even enjoy them and appreciate the quality. If there is quality. If there isn’t, well, I think you’ve seen what happens when I read shitty books. I haven’t read a truly awful one since starting this blog, but that might be because I do a lot of rereading and because I’m picky about many books. I’ll read a lot more mediocre books than shitty ones, but most of what I end up reading I enjoy. Sometimes more than the book deserves.
I did start Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on the plane today, but who knows what kind of time I’ll have for reading. Hopefully not so much that I finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows well before I land in Chicago on my return flight.