I guess I’ll have to say that this is the book where the world just grew a bit darker for Harry Potter. He is now a teenager, and a lot of emotional outbursts are at play. He has a lot of internal conflict going on – he shouts at his best friends and just wants to be alone. In this book I must say Harry’s character grew a lot, and we now see his imperfections as our hero of this series.
During his fifth year, Harry had to endure a lot of things: he faced a trial that would’ve resulted him losing his wand and being expelled from Hogwarts (just because he had to ward off dementors attacking him and Dudley!), he had to endure the unfair tyranny that ran Hogwarts during that term, carried the responsibility of leading a group to a revolution, caught in a confusing romantic relationship, and the most difficult of all, losing his godfather. I couldn’t blame him, I would also be full of angst during this stage given all these things that happened to him. Also death is more imminent than ever. Having first-person vision of Arthur Weasley being almost killed by Voldemort’s snake, Harry felt that heavy guilt of being the possible cause of this murder. He’s confused, and it didn’t help that Dumbledore was not around to explain the weird stuff that’s happening to him.
For me, this was a heavy read. Every page is just racked with confusing emotions. I’m with Harry through all the struggles and I just wanted things to get better for him. The things that he holds on for strength and inspiration has also been tarnished – the image of his dad – is he as great as Harry thought him to be? Seeing Snape’s “worst memory” gave him all those doubts as he saw his own dad bully a fellow student.
As if to balance these negative things out, there were still great things that Harry experienced during this book. He had his first experience with romance, kissing and dating Cho Chang (although it didn’t last long really). He expanded his circle of friends through Dumbledore’s Army and even saw how loyal they were to him when they had to go to the Department of Mysteries. For me, the best addition to Harry’s circle is Luna Lovegood. I super freakin’ adore this character. I wished she appeared sooner in the books honestly. I also rooted her for Harry, but I bet Harry sincerely cared for her, and I guess that’s enough for me. (the HarryXLuna ship is sailing!).
In this book, readers are taught that the good and evil in the wizarding world is not divided into non-supporters and supporters of Voldemort. We are introduced to a character that has become the most hated one (next to Voldemort of course), Dolores Umbridge. She exuded a different kind of evil, although not as worse as Voldemort’s, but as hateful all the same. She is someone who is hungry for power and loves to take control of things (there are a lot of people like her in the real world unfortunately). As Harry had to rush to the Department of Mysteries during the latter chapters of Phoenix, he was faced with an unexpected enemy, more vicious than the Dark Lord himself. I just want to give my props to Hermione’s quick thinking, and the centaurs’ bidding to take care of Umbridge (up to this day I’m still wondering what happened in the woods that got her traumatized).
The last few chapters of Phoenix were particularly grip-taking as Dumbledore finally confided to Harry the things he has been keeping since he was a baby. Dumbledore vowed to tell him everything he knows from now on (and we see in Half-Blood Prince that Dumbledore really has learned his mistakes and was more open with Harry). If only Dumbledore was honest with Harry, how different could things have happened? Harry would’ve better understood all the visions he was seeing, he wouldn’t be tricked and be lured to the Department of Mysteries, and Sirius Black might have not been killed. All these what ifs kind of make me obsessed and crazy sometimes, like if only Dumbledore told him! Oh well, Dumbledore did admit it was an old man’s mistake… but really, if only.
The ending of Phoenix have laid out to the readers Harry’s ultimate destiny and position against Voldemort. On the next book, it’s serious business now to destroy the Dark Lord. I super loved this book of course, but this one would be at the bottom of my HP reread list. I don’t want to go through Harry’s sufferings and also read about Sirius Black’s death again. This was a difficult book to read, but well I guess these experiences helped Harry to become stronger and wiser. Kudos to you Harry. You are one tough guy.