As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief
or will it?
Book five in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series follows the darkest year yet for our young wizard, who finds himself knocked down a peg or three after the events of last year. Over the summer, gossip (usually traced back to the magic world's newspaper, the Daily Prophet) has turned Harry's tragic and heroic encounter with Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament into an excuse to ridicule and discount the teenager. Even Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, has come under scrutiny from the Ministry of Magic, which refuses to officially acknowledge the terrifying truth: that Voldemort is back. Enter a particularly loathsome new character: the toad-like and simpering ("hem, hem") Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the minister of Magic, who takes over the vacant position of defence against dark arts teacher--and in no time manages to become the high inquisitor of Hogwarts. Life isn't getting any easier for Harry Potter. With an overwhelming course load as the fifth years prepare for their examinations, devastating changes in the Gryffindor Quidditch team line-up, vivid dreams about long hallways and closed doors, and increasing pain in his lightning-shaped scar, Harry's resilience is sorely tested.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, more than any of the four previous novels in the series, is a coming-of-age story. Harry faces the thorny transition into adulthood, when adult heroes are revealed to be fallible, and matters that seemed black and white suddenly come out in shades of gray. Gone is the wide-eyed innocent, the whiz kid of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Here we have an adolescent who's sometimes sullen, often confused (especially about girls), and always self-questioning. Confronting death again, as well as a startling prophecy, Harry ends his year at Hogwarts exhausted and pensive. Readers, on the other hand, will be energised as they enter yet again the long waiting period for the next title in the marvellous magical series. --Emilie Coulter
I've yet to meet a ten-year-old who hasn't been entranced by its witty, complex plot and the character of the eponymous Harry (Independent)
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Spellbinding, enchanting, bewitching stuff (Mirror)
Teachers say a chapter can silence the most rowdy of classes (Guardian)
One of the greatest literary adventures of modern times (Sunday Telegraph)
The Harry Potter stories will join that small group of children's books which are read and reread into adulthood (TLS)
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.