Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Moving On

I finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and while things did finally start happening, I can't say this was even close to as good a book as the first three (the fourth wasn't bad, either). In fact, the "problem" is almost a classic "non-problem": The Ministry of Magic is causing all the problems for Harry and Company because they think Dumbledore is trying to stage a coup. He's not, so most of the conflicts that have driven the entire book magically (no pun intended -- really this time) go away as soon as Voldemort is revealed. Of course, like most of the books, this one ends with major changes for Harry, and that's a good thing -- the characters must not be left unchanged by story events, and victory should always be mixed with defeat. But most of the events of this book could have been told in a standard-length novel, and the events and background revealed that are really important to the series could actually fit in a short story. It's almost as if Rowling got too busy with the movies and public appearances (which even she admits interfered with the writing) and just needed to crank one out the door.

I'm probably going to be roasted alive because of my disappointment with the book, but I'm doing my best to evaluate it based on the principles you've read about in this column. I've heard that in the next book Rowling is back to her old style, so I'm very much looking forward to that. Other than the big surprise at the end, I know nothing about it, so I'm hoping this will be a good read. The fifth book, though, came across to me as more of an example of how not to write than how to write a blockbuster. Moving on!

1 comment:

C. Jane Reid said...


I agree with you on book five. Definitely my least favorite, followed closely by book three. A great deal of weakened characterization that bothered me in both books, the drawn out non-plot you've pointed out with much eloquence in book five, and in book three, I got very tired of all the exposition given through conversation. A good example of how not to relate backstory.

I still enjoyed a great many things about both books, however, but it easy to see what doesn't work when measured up to her stronger books.

I'm re-reading book six currently. I blew through it so fast when I first got it that I only recall bits and pieces, some good, some bad. I want to see if it still holds to my original reader response.