Thursday, 21 April 2016

Reread Book Review: The Harry Potter series (books 4-5) by J.K. Rowling

Today I'm continuing my three-part feature rereading the fabulous Harry Potter series - and this time I'm sharing my thoughts on books 4 (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and 5 (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) with you.

If you missed the first installment of the series (books 1-3) you can catch up here.

But before I crack on with the reviews, just a quick recap of what the 'reread book reviews' are all about:

Writing a book review for Harry Potter seems a bit of a pointless exercise; surely everyone must have read the books by now? That's why I've decided to document my journey through the wizarding world here. It's not like my usual book reviews. These are written with the impression that you, the reader, have also read the books. Think of it more as a recap - a reminder of why Harry Potter captured the nation's imagination and never let it go.

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Image: Lorna Holland
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire is the first of the big Harry Potter books. It marks a change from the much more lighthearted antics of the first three books as from here, things only get darker.

This one has one of my favourite openings out of all the Potter books, first with the Weasley's fetching Harry from Privet Drive, then with the Quidditch World Cup. And things only get better from there - the Triwizard Tournament is a great storyline, and gives us much more of an insight into the wider magical world than we've had before. Each of the challenges are great, and are really interesting to read about.

Image: Lorna Holland
However, I've never been much of a fan of the whole Harry and Cho subplot - I mean I get that it shows Harry's growing up but it always annoyed me for some reason, I feel like it unnecessarily distracts from the main storyline. But after all, that's just a little thing, and it doesn't detract from the high quality of the book as a whole.

Image: Lorna Holland
Then we get onto the events of the end of the book. Without a shadow of a doubt now, Voldemort is back. The fact that Fudge refuses point blank to believe the Dark Lord has returned only makes things even more interesting, as Dumbledore has to work not only against Voldemort but also against Fudge and the Ministry now, while Voldemort gets stronger and stronger. This is partly why Order of the Phoenix is my favourite Potter book - this dynamic between the different groups is so interesting to read about (and I'll talk more about it when we get onto book 5 in a minute!)

Things are about to get very interesting indeed...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I'm going to be the odd one out when it comes to this book, because as I've already said, Order of the Phoenix is my favourite Harry Potter book.

Everyone complains that "it's too long" or "Harry's too angry" in this one, and yes, it's the longest book in the series, and Harry does lose his temper and shout a lot, but then under the circumstances, wouldn't you?

Image: Lorna Holland
My favourite thing about this book in particular is the level of detail. A lot of people say that the beginning is too slow and things take too long to properly get going, but I actually enjoy that. We get more detail and depth into the characters and their world than we've had up to this point - they may just be cleaning the house a lot at the start, but it's interesting - you can't forget they're living at HQ, after all. I also love the sense of suspense building ever so slowly throughout the book. There's a reason the beginning is slow and isn't full of action and drama - Rowling proves herself yet again as a master storyteller by slowing everything right down to a snail's pace. Everyone expects Voldemort to be running around killing everyone he comes into contact with, now he's back, and the fact that everything is quiet and he doesn't seem to be doing a lot only adds to that teasingly slow increase of suspense. That's why what happens at the end of the book is even more dramatic.

Personally I think the very end is actually much weaker than the beginning, because as soon as Harry returns to Dumbledore's office all this very important information is just info-dumped on him by Dumbledore. It's crucial to the remainder of the plot in the next two books, yet it's told to us in such a way that you can't really take it in - it's not interesting enough. As soon as Harry stops smashing things I switch off, every time I read it.

Image: Lorna Holland
Fred and George really excel in this book. Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes is well underway, and their escapades add much-needed humour and lightheartedness to what would otherwise be a very tense, rage-filled storyline.

Then we get to Umbridge. She is probably one of the most universally-loathed characters in fiction, and it's not hard to see why. But no matter how much you dislike her, you can't deny that she's a great character. Her unflinching persecution of those closest to Dumbledore rivals only the most fanatical of Death Eaters in terms of loyalty and devotion. Plus it's so satisfying when she gets her come-uppance at the end - the fact that we're never actually told what the centaurs do to her makes it even more convincing.

Image: Lorna Holland
Don't miss the final part of the feature (books 6-7) coming soon!

Are you a Harry Potter fan? Which book is your favourite? Chat to me about all things Potter in the comments below!

2 comments:

  1. I just finished rereading them. I agree, never liked the Cho relationship and the minister ignoring what we knew to be true irked me!

    Love the books though

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Glad to see somebody agrees haha! Thanks for reading and commenting :)

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