Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

It took me almost 5 days to make it through J K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, however, it was concentrated in a total of five reading sessions: 350 pages on the plane, 3 sessions of about 45 pages each at the hotel and the marathon session last night/this morning to finish up the 870 page installment.

By now, you can guess that I'm going to say that I liked the book, and you're guessing right. if I had not been out of town for this conference, I think I would probably have tossed through it in two or three days.

For me, fiction is always a slow read, and good fiction more so. In a technical book, I can skip most of the "filler" and skim for differences in the book with what I already know. This makes reading technical books about topics that I'm well versed in very "short" from the reading perspective, no matter how thick they are.

For fiction, though, the better the book, the slower I read it. I like to savor every turn of phrase and visualize each scene in my head as if sketching out story boards for a movie.

This one certainly triggered my fiction response, and I enjoyed plodding through it, making movies in my head and watching the scenes play out.

I'm not sure that the book will be to everyone's liking, although I haven't found any bad reviews yet, since it is much darker and more philosophical (and, for that matter, psychological) than its predecessors.

Without telling any details, I'll just say that the book revels in Harry's awkward adolescence, not only capitalizing on his special troubles due to his background and personal issues, but also imbuing him with the characteristics of every teenager.

Life becomes much more complicated for Harry, as he learns about the complexities of the "real" world outside of the protected confines of Hogwarts and as those realities encroach on his sanctuary.

The first third of the book is dark and dangerous and confusing and puts the reader in Harry's uncomfortable shoes. Things become more hectic, but no less dark in the second third, as Harry begins to realize that with the new understanding of reality comes the opportunity to change that reality through his own actions. The final third brings the book to a climax as Harry is forced to make some difficult choices and learns to live with the outcome of those choices and the choices that others had made for him over the preceeding years.

I would highly recommend it.