Friday, April 12, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Order of the Phoenix 30-38

Phew.  This week we read the end of Order of the Phoenix and I enjoyed it much more than the rest of the book even though it was horrible and I hated it.  I can't wait to start Half-Blood Prince next week because it is the bestest.  Also, I did some math, and this is week 15 of the readalong (including the intro, pre-reading post)!  Only 8 weeks left after this.  That probably makes this one of the longest-term commitments I have ever made that didn't include direct benefits (e.g., money, education, security), so kudos to me on that, I think.  Happy Harry Potter Day!

First off, I have to say how much this section sucks.  Even though Harry's being stupid and stubborn and should have learned Occlumency goddammit, I still want to fold him up in my arms because man he's got to feel like crap after all this (Sirius DEAD, friends INJURED, Bellatrix and Voldy ESCAPED) and I totally get how he let it all get to that point.  He has the vision, actually tries to find adults to get help for once (growth!) and forgets Snape, which is actually pretty understandable because Snape always presents himself as an enemy even though they're technically on the same team.  I would argue that after being reminded of Snape and the whole hike in the woods, Harry should have just gone back up to the castle to find him.  OR, after having the vision, he could have used the secret passageway into Hogsmeade to use a fire there to contact Sirius and avoided Umbridge's fire altogether.  But hindsight, right?

The Department of Mysteries is an excellent setting for an adventure.  Sure, they could have been in an empty basement somewhere and had a five-page battle and that would have been the end of it, but instead we get tanks of brains and time in a bell jar and a veil of death and all sorts of other excellent oddities.  I really love how the kids keep getting distracted by stuff in a way that very much reminds you that they are not grown-ups and someone has to keep saying, Hey, aren't we in the middle of something? so that they can get on with it.

Let's take a minute to talk about Bellatrix, shall we?  That lady is the CRAZY.  Malfoy's all cold and evil and controlled but she's just wild and loves hurting people and also loves Voldy and who thought that was possible?  Not I.  And then she kills Sirius BUT HOW?  Is it the spell that kills him or falling through the veil?  Are we even sure he's dead?  (JK, there's your cue to bring him back.)  And then Harry uses the Cruciatus Curse on her and I'm all "Noooo, don't go to the Dark Side, Harry!" but I am privately cheering because she is the worst in the best way.  By which I mean that she is a much more interesting evil person than Umbridge is.

But Sirius dies!  And it is so sad because even though he is sometimes a jerk, he is the only adult that Harry really loves and trusts and it is just the worst because he is neither the first nor last in the long line of traumatic losses Harry must experience.  Why must he go it alone (or at least without adult guidance?).
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Hold me.
So I was all hurting for Harry and then he tore apart Dumbledore's office and I just wanted to slap him in the face.  How quickly I can turn the empathy off.  Because dude, I get you're pissed, but why is just screaming insufficient here?  Dumbly would get the point just as well and not have to spend the rest of the night saying reparo!  I like how Dumbly holds Harry's anger for him and totally validates his feelings, but there is a line and I think that he should have shown it to Harry.  Angry and resentful and shouty?  Yes.  Destroying other people's possessions and not even trying to control yourself?  Not so much.  Harry still has a lot of growing up to do.
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Speaking of Dumbly, he tells Voldy, "We both know that there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom...  Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit" (814) and man is that dark.  Maybe darker than Voldy himself.  I mean, I get why merely murdering Voldy would be insufficient after all he's done but to be so up-front about it...eek.  A few pages later, Harry felt the creature use him again (816).  What a succinct way of describing a violation.  Kudos, JK.  Is it just me, or was the writing much better in this section than in the rest of the book?

I can't end this post without talking about Luna: "Well, I've lost most of my possession," said Luna serenely.  "People take them and hide them, you know.  But as it's the last night, I really do need them back, so I've been putting up signs" (862).  I cry.  She is mocked and burgled and pretty much the laughingstock of Hogwarts, but she's so strong and self-assured and generous in the face of all that and I just respect her so much.  She is a great friend, even without having any practice, and Harry should respect the crap out of her, but all he can muster up is pity.  LUNA DOESN'T NEED YOUR PITY.  Empathy and friendship, yes, but she is too strong and beautiful and wonderful to need pity.  Her awesomeness is only matched by Ginny's awesomeness, which makes me extremely glad that they are friends, or at least companions drawn together by personal losses that make it difficult to truly relate to other people.  Oh, and she kicks butt at the mystery and single-handedly gets Ron and Ginny safely out of the planet room.  But you know what she would say about all that?
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Me too, Luna.  Me too.
And that's it!  I think I've rambled enough.  I can't wait for next week, when Harry reorganizes his priorities and stops making me want to play that Umbridge slapping him gif over and over again.


  1. It's falling through the veil that kills him. Which is an extra reason that Sirius's death is the ENTIRE WORST. It was just a Stunning spell! He didn't have to die from that! Woe.

    In this one case, I think it is a little bit fair for Harry to break shit. Dumbledore should have told him that Voldemort wanted him in the Department of Mysteries or if he didn't want to do that, then he should definitely have told him (or, like, had someone else tell him!) that he was concerned about the possibility that Voldemort might put a pretend vision into Harry's head. I sort of want to break some of Dumbledore's shit for not telling Harry that information, and I am much older and also not recently bereaved and also I love Dumbledore infinity. So.

    1. I mean, I understand the motivation behind breaking stuff, but I think that at 15, Harry should be expected to be able to express himself on some level without resorting to that. Dumbly is SHITTY in this book, but that doesn't actually justify Harry.

  2. Omg RIGHT? WE HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR LIKE FOUR MONTHS OMG. It doesn't maybe feel that long to me, 'cause I didn't start actually reading the books until book 5 (oops), but STILL, POSTS EVERY WEEK.

    Aww. He TRIES to use the Cruciatus Curse, but he cannot, because he isn't a sadistic asshole.

  3. Man, what will we do when this is over? I do not even KNOW.

    Luna is the most amazing. She's certainly the most deep-down decent person in these books. I was so impressed with her at the Ministry, kicking all the ass.

    1. I know, right?! I mean, who saw that coming? She always seems so brainy and then she just takes care of business.

  4. " That probably makes this one of the longest-term commitments I have ever made that didn't include direct benefits" Worrrrrd. I think we all deserve to pat each other on the back for this. *pats you*

    I think Dumbles letting Harry break all his stuff is pretty much just him being all indulgent of Harry because he is SO DISTRESSED about what is facing him and, you know, all that stuff he says in his office. BUT I'm less critical of Harry than you are, so I was just like 'You break that stuff if you need to, darling.' I do really love him.

    I LOVE Luna. I feel like she's a really good character for kids to be exposed to, in terms of being yourself and maintaining an inner sureness about yourself that means that people can't really hurt you when they're being dicks because THEIR actions don't affect how you feel about YOU. Does that make sense? Whatever, she's awesome.

    1. That totally makes sense! Luna should lead adolescent support groups when she graduates Hogwarts! If only the magical world had social services...

      I know I'm super-critical of Harry... he honestly is not my favorite. His personality is meh and he is hard for me to stomach. It's the other characters - Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Luna, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, even the twins, NOT Ron - that make the series for me.

  5. First of all, who's saying this readalong doesn't have direct benefits? I know my happiness has benefitted directly from all the LOLs this readalong has provided me with.

    Second, OMG the Harry yelling GIF! *sobs*

    Sirius's death in the book was kind of ambiguous (I think the first time I read OotP, I was confused along with Harry for a page or two), so I really appreciated how they handled it in the movie.

    *sobs some more, reaches for Half-Blood Prince for comfort*

  6. Maybe my favorite part of that whole battle scene is when Ron is like, I think they're brains! And everyone is like, Ron, let's get a move on. And he's like, No, really! Here, look. As though they were disagreeing with him! I think Ron is tripping balls at this point, though, which I also found super hilarious.

    I love when Dumbles gets dark. You do you, you powerful wizard man.

    LUNAAAA. She and Neville have untapped reserves of greatness, they deserve each other.

  7. I love that brains scar Ron. SO much subtext to that one.

    Luna is the best. I think it's official.

    I hadn't quite tweaked to that line in earlier readings where Dumbledore says that killing Tom would quite satisfy him--you're right, though, and it's as good of a hint of things to come (when we learn of Dumbledore's past) as we get, I think.

    I like your observation about Dumbledore holding Harry's anger. You're right--he does. But he needs to since he's been manipulating Harry like a pawn ever since he was one year old. I guess he figures he owes it to Harry.

  8. You are so right about the DoM scenes being awesome when they could have been so short, and also the kids getting distracted all the time and reminding you how far over their heads they are.