Friday, April 5, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Order of the Phoenix 21-29

GUYS.  I'm dragging here.  I love Harry Potter but MAN is Order of the Phoenix dull.  I had to switch to audiobook because reading it is more than I can handle.  I know.  This is a lot of people's favorite book.  Not so for me.  It's not that the actual events are so bad but that the writing draaaags.  And also, Umbridge is the most BORING villain ever (ducks).  But we're almost to the end, right?  Just one more week and then Half-Blood Prince, which I LOVE.  In the meantime, Happy Harry Potter Day!

So this week, Harry witnessed a violent, life-threatening attack on his best friend's dad, which, yes, horrifying, except that then he throws a tantrum of the highest proportions.  Yes, Harry's freaked out and convinced that Voldy's going to burst forth from his head or something, which would be pretty damned scary, except that he's SO full of himself that he completely forgets that poor Ginny was once possessed by old Voldy and doesn't think to go to her for advice.
"I forgot," he said."Luck you," said Ginny coolly. (pg. 500)
All of that is to say that Ginny is tough and awesome and could do so much better.  Fortunately, Phineas Nigellus is more than willing to tell Harry how self-absorbed and obnoxious he is, so at least he knows.  You can rest easy, self.
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To prevent future Voldy-Vision, Harry takes Occlumency lessons with Snape!  Which is actually pretty cool, because for the whole series up until now, Harry has had constant feelings that Snape could read his mind and hey-o!  It turns out that he can.  So maybe Harry's not paranoid?  I love Snape's description of the mind:
The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure.  Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader.  The mind is a complex and many-layered thing... (pg. 530)
Say what you will about Snape, but the man has a way with words.  His introductions to Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts were similarly poetic.  Despite his many flaws, he is a passionate man who clearly values skill and hard work, two characteristics that our hero lacks in most areas.  Of course, Snape is terribly flawed as well - he doesn't just treat students like crap, but seems to have a deep sense of shame, which is probably why he acts the way he does.  No matter how defiantly he stood up to James in the memory that Harry invaded, being dangled upside down in front of the girl you like is going to leave you with a deep sense of embarrassment, which clearly morphed into something darker over the years.  Before this reading of the series, I never thought all that much about Snape's character development, but I think it's pretty impressive.
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As for that memory, first can I point out how much of an ass Harry is for diving into it?  The first time he fell into the Pensieve was an accident - he didn't know what it was - but this time is just unacceptable.  It's the equivalent of reading somebody's diary, and shows a disturbing sense of entitlement and disregard for the rights of others in Harry's character.  It's unforgivable.  That said, I do think that it was important for Harry to see it and understand who his father really was.  I'm actually kind of surprised that Snape didn't intentionally show him a memory like this (though potentially one less damaging to his own ego) just to take his years worth of taunts a step further.  Despite the circumstances, seeing this does take Harry down a peg, which is important in this book especially.  I really like the bit where he talks to Lupin and Snape in the fire:
Then Lupin said quietly, "I wouldn't like you to judge your father on what you saw there, Harry.  He was only fifteen - "
"I'm fifteen!" said Harry heatedly. (pg. 670)
I know I've complained a LOT about Harry in this book but I really appreciate this moment, when he compares himself to his father and finds his father lacking.  Because no matter how annoying Harry is, he has nothing on his self-assured bully of a father.  In fact, James may be worse than any of Harry's classmates, Draco Malfoy included.  For Harry to see that and say that NOTHING makes it okay shows a fair amount of character on his part.  He just needs to make part of himself a bigger part of who he is (which he will in the next book [I'm thinking about the scene on the Scarlet Express]).

A quick minute to talk about the twins and their various escapades?  Yes, I think so.  First off, the contrast between their brand of troublemaking and James's and Sirius's is worth noting - Fred and George may mess around but they've never been anything but kind-hearted (except maybe to Ron but come on, he's their little brother).  What's noteworthy about their antics in this section is that it's not just for fun - they're punishing Umbridge on Dumbledore's behalf in their own special way.  Now, I'm not a big fan of fireworks but theirs do sound pretty awesome and when a sparkler floated past the tower, still resolutely spelling out the word POO (pg. 634), I pretty much died.  Who mixes fireworks and poo?  That is awesome and they are the best.  And then when they perform their next antic (this time in Harry's service) and take off, I wanted to cheer with the rest of the students.  In that moment, they are saying you can't control us and the rest of the school takes it to heart.  This is what really spins Umbridge's reign out of control, giving heart to the school.  While Fred and George's characters are rather undeveloped, they do play an important part in the series.  Also, I love them!

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And off we go to the end of the book and Harry's biggest tantrum yet.  Le sigh.
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19 comments:

  1. Oh man, I think this is going to be the most frustrating readalong week for me yet. I don't understand why everyone is so willing to throw James under the bus. Yes he was a piece of shit, does that mean he will always be a piece of shit? No. In fact we know for certain that he didn't stay that way. He joined the Order and he fought against evil, and then he died to protect his wife and child. Does he have shadows in his past? yes. But so does everyone, and as we see it's what makes the people in this series such compelling characters.

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    1. Yeah, he does improve in his OVERALL actions, but we don't know if he actually starts treating people like, well, people. You can fight for good and still be a condescending jerk who's totally full of himself and demeans others. That was a serious bit of cruelty, the likes of which we haven't seen from anyone else, and we don't actually get any proof that he ever stopped doing that kind of thing, other than vague assurances that he was "a good person."

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    2. I don't think treating Snape like crap = treating everyone like crap.

      And we don't see a lot of James so it's unfair to assume that he doesn't grow out of this period ESPECIALLY when most people say that he did. Just because we don't see it first hand doesn't mean it doesn't happen, and just because he's dead doesn't mean everyone remembers him in a favourable light. There's a reason Lily decides she doesn't hate him and wants to marry him.

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    3. Yeah, yeah... I'll give him a pass because of lack of information. Shake on it?

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    4. Agreed! I've gotta say, I had no idea I was going to be all Team James-y when I woke up today.

      More Fred and George fireworks yes?

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  2. I can appreciate everyone has a different opinion, but this is the dull book? False, that was CoS.

    Ginny and Phineas telling Harry off when he's being all angsty again is the best. And yes, Harry was a suuuuper ass diving into Snape's memory. Perhaps Harry does have his father's teenage sense of entitlement. It just manifests itself in different ways.

    ALSO, about Snape not wanting Harry to see this memory and thus what a jerk his dad was, someone on MuggleNet wrote a great post about that. http://www.mugglenet.com/editorials/snapesanger.shtml

    Awww the Weasley's exit so wonderful. It's such a satisfying scene.

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    1. It's not so much what HAPPENS that's boring as the sheer lack of editing and excess words I need to read to get there. JK does a lot of summarizing huge bits of time that we don't really need to know about and I'm all SNORE. When stuff actually happens, I'm into it, but the rest of the time...zzzz....

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    2. Agreed on the excess of words. This could def have been trimmed down a bit. But I guess when stuff happens I'm so excited I forgive it its wordiness.

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    3. I agree with both of these things- but I still feel like, for the first half of the book, NOT A LOT HAPPENED. So I was pretty snore-ish. But I have no complaints about this week.

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  3. I think that JK Rowling someday HAS to write a prequel series, just to clear up the Marauders. I don't think they were that horrible. They were assholes, sure, but most teenagers are. And I think the fact that they were in the Order shows that they were genuinely good people - they could have sat on the sidelines to save their own skins, but they didn't. They fought for good, and that matters.

    I agree though that this book is TIRESOME thanks to all of Harry's freaking tantrums. I get that JK is kind of trying to show his adolescence and whatnot, but it's sooooo annoying. Can't wait to move on to book 6.

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    1. Yes, we need this prequel. The fifteen-year-old marauders are so at odds with the OotP marauders, and I'd really like to see how they get from douchey-A to decent-B.

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    2. I'd read it! Probably in one day, lol.

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  4. I never find this book boring, so many good things happen in it! But never fear, we will soon be through and on to the sixth book, where Ron gets a girlfriend at last. :p

    I also love that Harry refuses to give anyone a pass for their age. The same thing happens in the seventh book with Dumbledore, and Harry's all like, I AM SEVENTEEN. Way to go Harry! Call the people on the carpet for their assholery!

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  5. I love love LOVE the fact that Harry doesn't let things slide because of people's ages. Because, why the hell should he? It's not like, at 15, people are physically incapable of controlling the things they do. They KNOW what they're doing, and should be held accountable for it! *glares at all the Sirius-apologists* *which is basically everyone*

    FRED AND GEORGE WIN EVERYTHING! I tend to just find them vaguely amusing, but I don't think too much about them? But this is clearly their moment of awesomeness. Well, one of them, anyway.

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    1. Yeah, they're underdeveloped but fun when they pop up! Plus, they have really good hearts, and that counts for a lot.

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  6. I love that what we all took from this section is Oh yes, Ginny is exceedingly great.

    Also, hearing Snape's lines in Alan Rickman's voice DOES NOT HURT THEM AT ALL. Alan Rickman, you dreamy greasy man.

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