It's been three years since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out with a Howler uproar of praise that exploded universally around the world. Saturday June 21st marked an important and strange date in the history of literature. As public libraries slowly lose funding, and kids regularly flock towards movies and video games, suddenly millions of children (along with their parents none-the-less)were partying over the idea of reading?
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the series, and the most anticipated after the last cliff hanger ending. The fourth book marked a turning point, as Lord Voldemort (think Darth Vader meets Hitler) returned to human form to rebuild his army and start a second uprise to power, determined to let only pure blood wizards remain. Compared to the first three books, the fourth was much darker, more compelling, and only led to the greatness of book five.
By the way, "Death Eaters" are followers of Voldemort and The Order of the Phoenix is the name given to the group of wizards who are attempting to fight against them. The big problem, though, is that the rest of the world, helped mainly by a propaganda filled paper and an egotistical government ruler, is convinced Voldemort's claimed return was simply a publicity stunt by an attention seeking brat
Though writing a much more intense book than its predecessors, J.K. Rowling doesn't lose her sense of humor. The trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione is panned out to create a larger group of friends resulting in a lot of hysterical new interactions. The usually mild comic relief twins Fred and George play a much larger role, along with a talking Ginny (Ron's younger sister who finally got over her mute-inducing crush on Harry),a slightly more grown up accident prone friend named Neville, and a crazy Luna "Loony" Lovegood whose strange confidence in her father's Enquirer-style paper makes the plot all the more wonderful. There are friendly laughs, fights, and crushes on almost every page in proper teenage fashion. One thing is for sure, Rowling definitely never forgot what it was like to be fifteen, and definitely knows how to keep her audience glued to the pages.
So the question remains, can the fifth book be enjoyed without reading the other four?
As for old readers determined to find a flaw in the plot, a character misrepresented, or any sign that fame and fortune have lead to a weakening of J.K.'s devotion to the stories, they will be hard-pressed for evidence. Some have wondered whether the new weighty length was intended only for bragging rights, but after reading it, those same skeptics will probably wish it hadn't been edited at all.