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Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix back to reviews
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Harry Potter and the Boredom of the Reader
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.
I've personally found the first three are the most boring to re-read nowadays. Certainly I've always felt that the latter four were more friendly to older readers (and by old I really only mean 15-20 :D ). They stop being these packs of story and start becoming something more substantial, the details mean instead of being fed something that works because that's how stories work, the story has something more of a world about it and has more meaning than something which is purely designed. Like plot devices stop becoming plot devices and its easier to engage with it as a world directly instead of a story about a world.

You shouldn't judge purely on page number though. The Eye Of The World in the Wheel Of Time series has 700 pages compared to 800, but an extra 50,000 words same with A Game Of Thrones, it's quite large type :D .

The first three were definitely too short, you can read them in a couple of hours, it's a word count of 80,000 when even the Da Vinci Code which is a pretty short book to read is 175,000. On the other hand I agree 250,000 is probably a little too much. Although it's still below most fantasy epics (http://www.cesspit.net/drupal/node/1869) (The Lord of the Rings books are short! I guess it goes to show that the writing style accounts much more for how long we feel something is than actual length)

The 180 000 average of the other three of the last four feels right to me. Maybe 140 000 or something would have been better but I like them to last and can't say I've ever been bored reading them.
comment #14601 Tomwithnonumbers 5th Jun 12
comment #14602 Tomwithnonumbers 5th Jun 12
My major gripe is that the book is long but it doesn't feel epic like the two examples above. There are so many disparate ideas and subplots that don't really go anywhere or tie in with the plot. By the end there are only three meaningful developments:

-A supporting character is dead.

-Everyone believes that Voldemort is back, which should of happened at the end of the last book.

-There's a prophecy, which is pretty lame compared to previous twists.

The whole thing felt like filler and the book doesn't stand strong on it's own terms. This story should have been either half the length or had twice as much action.
comment #14604 morninglight 5th Jun 12
"Did anyone really care about Grawp, SPEW and house cleaning?"

Yes. I, for one, liked learning more about the Potterverse and these subplots helped with that.

"Very little of consequence happens and by the end we are pretty much where we started, give or take a few characters."

Except that Voldemort has finally revealed himself and the wizarding world is no longer in denial about his return leading directly to Harry's reputation as a raving madman morphing into the "Chosen One" instead. Also, the prophecy that started it all.
comment #14605 McSomeguy 5th Jun 12
Ha Ha No, Prisoner fucking sucked compared to any of them before Half Blood,no Voldemort,slow-paced because of that,and everything tht didn't have Sirius and Lupin was horrifically stupid,...I'm sorry Columbus quit before he could do it right,leaving Cauron to mess it up

And you forget the good points of both Goblet and Phoenix which are

- Professor Umbridge (Personally she disgusts me more than Voldemort) - Voldemort's ingenius manipulation of the Triwizard Tournament - The character of Cedric - The fantastically written Belligerent Sexual Tension between Ron and Hermione - The return of Dobby (another thing Azkaban lacks) - Harry was already not exactly Einstein,but he wasn't an idiot and anyway he was under a lot of pressure between Dumbledore,being The Cassandra and the Umbridge out to get him,...you know what most teens angst over? Oooh my girlfriend doesn't love me,....oooo that teacher sucks,.....oooo this school sucks,...all fucking nothing compared to Harry - The subplots all add up,SPEW foreshadowed Kreature betraying Sirius which caused that climax,Grawp developed the friendship of the three and Hagrid - The first two books I agree with,it's the third where the characters are devices instead,...especially Ron who serves to be The C Omplainer Is Always Wrong

How the hell does this title apply to the most intense,darkest,and probably most important book (not my favorite mind you),...and NOT THE VOLDEMORT-LESS one?
comment #14609 terlwyth 5th Jun 12
To add to that, the first three books were all monsters of the week that only feel like they contribute to a larger story arc because of the hard work of the latter four. In many ways 5 was a lot more important than 4 and a lot lot more important than 3,2,1 because it established what Voldemort being back was going to be like. By itself it doesn't have a huge amount going for it (although it still has as much and more going on than in 2 and 3) but it's very necessary for the pacing of the larger story arc, establishing a Voldemort who is in many ways more frightening because he's being intelligent about this and making things more difficult than one out and out war.

Likewise the actual Order of the Phoenix and the composition/character arcs of it's members were the bridge between 1,2,3,4 and the final conclusions of the storyline.

@Morninglight I do get what you mean when you say they aren't epic like the examples of the longer stories (in many ways using the real meaning of epic, they were epics and Harry Potter kind of wasn't (except maybe if you look at it as a series rather than a book, but I don't know if you can do that) but Harry Potter is something in the middle between a normal book and an epic, and certainly it was constructing a world, pursuing a long dark threat and delving into character interaction and politics, so a midway in length between the 300K epics and the 100k flick throughs feels like a suitable transition.

Of course it is part of the unusual feature of the stories, that since they were designed to be read whilst we grew up and they grew up with us, it makes it a bit awkward and unwieldy to look at the series as a whole and read them as a whole. Complaints I'd have now, I didn't have when I was waiting in line for the book at midnight, happy that somehow I could still be reading this series even though I was when I started reading them. And you don't complain about it's length when you're waiting for the next book and are eager for all the information you can get until then
comment #14616 Tomwithnonumbers 5th Jun 12
"You shouldn't judge purely on page number though. The Eye Of The World in the Wheel Of Time series has 700 pages compared to 800, but an extra 50,000 words same with A Game Of Thrones, it's quite large type :D"

This is an unfair criticism of the reviewer. They don't just say it has 800 pages and leave it at that, as if it alone establishes anything. They ask "Why?" 800 pages, and find no good answer. It betrays the supposedly superior formula of the series' early installments, is padded by unnecessary and uninteresting detail, and repeats itself. This is not to say that 800 pages by definition equals bad.
comment #14622 tublecane 5th Jun 12
Okay, yeah, thats a fair enough criticism of what I said
comment #14656 Tomwithnonumbers 6th Jun 12
I've re-read a few of the Harry Potter books, and I still see Chamber of Secrets as one of the better stories. The main problem with Phoenix is that it's one big infodump about EVERYTHING. There's next to nothing but page after page of boring, bland dialogue and irrelevent actions. The first chapter describes the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, being voted out or resigning or something. Also, there's a living painting. I fail to see how this is relevant, but honestly I don't know for sure; I was skipping lines of the story thinking "Oh god when will it end" around the middle. And she added a prophecy! How mature!

Honestly, I preferred Monster Of The Week. Voldemort-Quirrell was cool. The Basilisk, while not adherring to the myth 100% (It's actually a lizard, but not a big problem) was freaking awesome. An 800 page brick of Info Dump is not that great.
comment #14658 MrMallard 6th Jun 12
The Minister resigning happened in the next book. This book starts off with the subplot of Harry being expelled, which isn't much exciting either.
comment #14659 morninglight 6th Jun 12
I agree with the criticisms made in the review, and have some additional ones. The worst thing about this book is that the 'prophecy' is so ridiculously, mindblowingly predictable and completely fails to change anything. Oh, the conflict between Harry and Voldemort is to the death? I never would have guessed that. It feeds into what the review said about the novel being unimportant to the series plot aside from the death of Sirius.

comment #14780 Bionicman 9th Jun 12
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