I believe that this series fell off the broomstick after Azkaban. The first three books were crisply written, tightly-paced adventures that appealed to children and adults alike. The latter four books, however, are overwritten, under-edited, ploddingly paced affairs suitable only for the hardcore crowd. Phoenix is one such book. Here I'll list the problems: VILLAINS: I know that Umbridge is supposed to be annoying but for goodness sake, this book is over 800 pages. We don't need to see her Kick The Dog again and again. Umbridge isn't annoying because she's evil but because she's poorly written. A good villain should make you hate the character, not the writer. The same goes for strawmen like Fudge. LENGTH: Again, this book is over 800 pages. Why? Do we really need so many irrelevant details and subplots that only serve to pad the pages? Remember the first three books? Remember how all the little details complemented the plot instead of overwhelming it? Did anyone care about Grawp, SPEW and house cleaning? This leads to... THE PLOT: The first three books were mysteries with a sense of fair-play and a surprising twist at the end. There was build-up and there was payoff. Phoenix, however, is a stifling account of everything that happens in Harry's fifth year. What plot there is hinges on characters, namely Harry, acting like idiots. There's a reveal at the end which is pretty cliche and doesn't break much ground compared to previous twists. Very little of consequence happens and by the end we're pretty much where we started, give or take a few characters. HARRY: I understand that Harry's angry, that he's fifteen, that he has issues. What I don't understand is why he's the protagonist. He's as dumb as a post in this one and he functions more as a plot device than a character. Hermione would make a better protagonist. I hated Phoenix but for the one brilliant touch that is Luna Lovegood. There is an inherent gamble when a creator becomes famous called the Lucas Zone. This is when a creator is given free and total rein on what to do. At best, the creator can tell the story they always wanted to tell and people will love them for it. At worst, the creator gets high off their own success and makes a story for the creator first and the audience second. Harry Potter, post-Azkaban, edges towards the latter.
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