So, during our road trip to Oregon, Lisa and I listened to the 5th Harry Potter book on tape, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was the first direct exposure I’ve had to anything Harry Potter. I haven’t read any of the books and I haven’t seen any of the movies. I’ve sort of avoided them. Not so much because I dislike them, but more because I’m not so interested in them either. Because of the mania associated with the product, I’ve just stayed away. But, we had a long drive and it seemed like a good idea to listen to something, and Harry Potter was as good as anything.
First, I must say, I guess I do understand what people see in the Harry Potter world. The story is pretty captivating, though it does seem to dwell on details and side plots that don’t advance the story much. Though, in the end, most of those seemingly tangential story lines do end up coming back into the main narrative and making a difference. And, I did want to listen to the whole story, all the way to the end, which tells you something about how interesting the story was.
I read some reviews on this book on Wikipedia. There were a lot of interesting and odd analyses of the story and the Harry Potter universe in general. There are some saying that since the main characters are all men, the universe is anti-feminist, especially when considering that some loathesome characters, such as Umbridge, are female. Others say that the books are subversive, celebrating youthful rebellion and the bucking of authority.
I didn’t see that much at all. In fact, I took the opposite from the story. Almost everything that happened in Order of the Phoenix was the direct result of Harry bucking authority, but in a bad way. Much of the story concerns his punishment at the hands of Umbridge, but he is punished because he can’t keep his mouth shut. In the end, the climax of the story is the direct result of Harry’s impatience at his situation. He feels like he knows everything and doesn’t trust or believe the adults around him. That is fine, but it is his defiance of those adults that lead to most of the events of the plot, events that often turn out disasterously. If Harry were just a bit more patient and didn’t mouth off and just relaxed, not much would have happened in the story. In short, it seemed to me that the whole story was driven by Harry’s short temper. If he was even keeled, there would have been no story. The story seems to be a lesson against the impetuousness of youth.
Even so, I enjoyed the story. I’m not going to go out of my way to read more, but I won’t avoid the opportunities to see a movie or listen to another chapter of the Harry saga.