Frustrated and lonely, Harry is stuck at number four, Privet Drive, for yet another summer. Making matters worse is the lack of news from the wizarding community. The Ministry of Magic and The Daily Prophet are refusing to allow the truth to be printed, the magical world is completely in the dark. Worst of all, Harry faces potential expulsion even before the school year begins. With the Dark Lord back on the loose and a scary new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher watching their every move, it might just be time for the students of Hogwarts to take their futures into their own hands.
This fifth story in the Harry Potter series is a tough one to get through. At 870 pages, it’s the longest book, and the first 100-150 pages move as slow as molasses. Even worse, just about every character (except Hermione, who accomplished this feat in book four without much fuss) hits puberty. Harry becomes whiny, Ron sulks a lot, and Ginny starts dating. Of course, all of the adults continue to treat them like children and hoard information from them, with naturally disastrous consequences.
On the bright side, this book introduces what I like to call the silver trio. Much like Harry, Ron, and Hermione are often referred to as the golden trio, Ginny, Neville, and Luna quickly spring to mind as a second grouping, which I like to call the silver trio. Ginny finally becomes a real person in this book, as does Neville and many of the other secondary characters. Luna Lovegood, aside from a brief mention of her family near the start of the fourth book, is really introduced here. Luna, in a way that only Luna could possibly do, quickly becomes near-central to the main storyline. It always surprises me how seamlessly J.K. Rowling weaves Luna into the story, with her odd habits and strong opinions. Luna, so shamelessly herself, is easily one of my favorite characters of the books, and we don’t even meet her until more than halfway through the series!
While it is widely acknowledged that this book is really too long to be its best, it is difficult to find things that could be cut out. The only possibilities would be the cleaning scenes and the emotional roller coaster that is Harry’s thoughts in this book. However since these things really make up most of the story and establish multiple relationships that are important later on, they really have to be left in.
The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a nightmare. I actually had a teacher in highschool who closely resembled her in not just looks, and we subsequently warned anyone who would listen about “Umbridge”. I actually had an underclassman insist that I was wrong for an entire year because they were convinced another teacher should have the title. The next year they had a class with the real “Umbridge” and promptly apologized for doubting me. I am aggressively not sorry we gave her that nickname.
Personal stories aside, this book, although seriously massive and slow except for the last 100 pages, was pretty great. The character development is so on point it’s almost painful (because puberty). Everyone becomes so much more complex in this book and it’s wonderful. Definitely recommend.
HHC Rating: 4 Stars
Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay