J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix

If you are expecting more of the traditional “Harry Potter Magic”, you won’t be disappointed. There is lots and lots of it. But I found it very frustrating because it just doesn’t go anywhere. Every chapter has its little ups and downs, but the book as a whole is a long, slow climb to a single climax around page 700. It doesn’t read like a novel, it reads like a magazine serialization, where it’s important to have a self-contained, entertaining episode each week. That’s great if you’re reading it to your children, or if you want to maximise the time you spend luxuriating in cuddly, escapist fantasy. It’s severely annoying if you like a book to have a point.

Also, although Rowling plants the seeds for characters with depth, she falls back on Scooby-Doo stereotypes, where sinister behaviour is just a mask for underlying incompetence. She sets up situations with the potential for exploring important social and personal issues, but then turns them into comic sketches, or brushes them quickly aside to make way for cozy normality. It’s like she’s afraid to make any hard choices about where her heroes and her literary world are going, and is making up for this by just keeping on writing. It may be fun, but it’s only filler. There’s no meat in this pie, only gravy.