This, the fifth book of the Harry Potter series (which I was never going to read), might be the best so far.
Harry and his cohorts are fifteen now, and full of teenaged piss and vinegar. I am very much appreciating the character development as the series progresses, with the characters growing and maturing along with the original readers of the series. I’m also appreciating the fact that for a hero, Harry is in most ways a typical, angsty teen prone to fits of temper and acts of rebellion.
The Dark Lord is back, but the Ministry of Magic is in complete denial about it. Instead, Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, is convinced that Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, is conspiring to push Fudge out and take the position of Minister of Magic himself. Fudge installs one Dolores Umbridge at Hogwarts to ensure that the school is being run up to snuff in the eyes of the Ministry, and under her direction, Hogwarts goes to hell in a handbasket.
The power struggle between Fudge and Dumbledore – purely a product of Fudge’s imagination – is, unfortunately, a terrible distraction from the real problem at hand – the return of Voldemort.
Meanwhile, Harry is painted as a lying, attention-seeking, addle-brained adolescent by the Ministry and the Daily Prophet newspaper, and Harry suffers being treated more and more like an outcast by his peers at Hogwarts.
The bonds forged between the characters is a beautiful thing – between Harry, Ron and Hermione, between Hagrid and Harry, between Sirius and Harry, between Dumbledore and Harry. Though more and more an outcast, Harry has some big supporters. Still, he is a boy in adolescence, a boy in a suspended state of grief, a boy with no real place to call home.
I loved this book. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can get to the next one, although I’m already finding myself sad that there are only two more books left in the series.