Harry V

Finished Order of the Phoenix last night.

What I liked: the fact that the kids have figured out that school isn’t the thing that matters most. The underlying theme that when you’re not getting what you want from school, you need to take matters into your own hands, whether by learning on your own or leaving entirely. Umbridge as villain. The fact that Dumbledore finally realizes withholding information is an issue. The way Snape was handled, in general. (And I had some issues with this in earlier books.) The hints that future books are possibly going to deal more and more with the whole issue of school cruelty. (Anyone else notice that, for all that they’re victims, Harry and Ron are not innocent in this regard? And that towards the end Harry was, just, beginning to get it?)

Things that irritated me: the weakly paced, overly drawn out plotting. The story that depends on characters not speaking to each other. And the fact that Rowling doesn’t know how to kill off characters well.

This last was a gripe for me in the last book as well as this one. Killing characters is necessary to make the war real, but I think Rowling thinks that’s as far as their deaths need to go. So both the characters she’s killed off merely die because they get in the line of fire when people are shooting. In Order of the Phoenix the character who dies does die fighting, until in Goblet of Fire, but still … he doesn’t die doing anything, he just dies because there’s a battle going on and he’s in it.

But characters can also die because they’re active trying to do something–to defend or protect someone, to accomplish some specific thing; or at least in some way that specifically reflects upon them and their character. They can die nobly or foolishly, but they need to die in specific ways, not just because “people die” and the book needs to show this.

I’m not sure I’m explaining this well. But as it is, the killing off of characters is done in a way that seems gratuitous rather than to purpose.

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