ELEVENTH IN LINE
About This Blog
A blog about my life, universe, etc. At any given time you might find something endlessly interesting or just me ruminating on something else, which no one (not even myself) finds interesting. That's the way blogs go, I suppose. Anyway, I was eleventh in line, and you weren't. Hah!
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Ohio State University
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My mom is a lawyer in Pickerington; my stepdad and dad are computer guys, and my stepmom (who works with my dad) is an engineer. My sisters are, in order of age, a photographer, an artist, and a person too young to have her own website. My brothers are, in order of age, living up north, and again, a person too young to have a website. At some point soon I'll be collecting links for my aunts, uncle, and cousins. ^_^
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Sunday, June 22, 2003
HARRY POTTER IS MY KING: The Burbank folks were giving out misinformation as late as 11:30, and to children as young as 11 years old (the youngest person who came up to me and said that they told her no one was going to be able to get a book except for pre-orders, is going into sixth grade in August). I'm glad I got my book, and I'm glad I got to be first in the "general sales" line, but I'm pretty sure I won't be heading back to that store anytime soon. See my post AFTER this one for the full details of my night.
I finished the book at 8:54am this morning, exactly seven hours and four minutes after starting it. Sometime in there I was interrupted by a VERY EARLY morning money talk with my father (who thinks that if you're up and reading the first newly released HP book this MILLENIUM, and it's 3am, it must mean you were waiting for him to come and talk about student loans) and by having to do the dishes (I waited until 5:45am, which just shows how good I think the book is, as I was risking the wrath of my stepmother by waiting so long).
The remainder of this entry consists of SPOILERS for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. DO NOT highlight the remainder of this post, or read the remainder of this post, if you do not want immediate exposure to crucial plot points, random tidbits of data, or my personal analysis of either. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
DON'T READ THIS STUFF IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ORDER OF THE PHOENIX!!!!!
Well. I read it. Took seven hours (in one way less time than I would have thought, and in another way, more -- read on to understand why), and probably ensures I'll continue to have a head cold for an extra day, since I stayed up all night to read it. But I think it was worth it, even though I have mixed feelings about this book.
You see, I'm a fanfiction kind of girl. I tend to get really into fanfiction once I start (on a per-series basis -- I'm not into Babylon 5 fanfiction, for instance, but I DO like Stargate fanfiction), and the delays between the time I finished Goblet of Fire and the time they released Order of the Phoenix got me hooked. I'm on FictionAlley, WitchFics, and a couple of other sites as a reader, and have published HP fanfiction on FA. What does that have to do with this book? Well, for starters, I've already read three different versions of Harry's fifth year (and a Hermione-based trilogy starting in his sixth year), and oh yeah, I had these plans of my own for an epic three-part finish to GoF. Some of those authors are pretty darned good, and let's face it, I kind of like my own ideas. I've never been in the situation I'm in now -- JK Rowling's version of Harry's 5th year is at least the fourth I've seen executed, and probably the eighth or ninth that I've seen conceptualized. Of course, there aren't that many different ways people have gone with HP fanfiction in the past, you see, and 80% of it can be described with one sentence: "Mary Sue (an American exchange student) comes to Hogwarts in Harry's fifth year, and crazy romance stuff ensues, with lots and lots of snogging in the Astronomy Tower."
Still, a big part of me was expecting Harry to move in with Sirius, for us to see Draco turn good (even though I'm a MAJOR opponent of that concept in fanfiction, and for the last year I've argued rather heatedly against the idea), for Hermione to fall over and start snogging everything in sight (see again the above part about arguing heatedly, and my published works). That sort of thing. It went way way WAY beyond speculating what's in the next book (which I've done a lot, especially in the Star Wars area), and straight into deciding what stuff works best, through trial and error. Ten thousand monkeys at keyboards produced some REALLY excellent ideas, and despite my best efforts (including a three-week hiatus from the fan community), they were all floating around in my head. Sirius' house at Ascog was a more pressing interruption for me than rumors of Hermione's death (well, at least until the part where nearly EVERY fan of Harry's all decided to put themselves in danger all at once), and that's saying something, because thousands of girls were worried about Hermione, and only one author that I know of has put Sirius at Ascog.
But did I like the book? I'm not sure. Yeah, there was a lot of conflict in me over specific points (I like how you get into St. Mungo's better in JKR's version, but I'm quite attached to Barb's method of getting into the Ministry of Magic), and not just little ones either (see my soon-to-be-published post-OOTP fiction from Percy's perspective), but more to the point, perhaps, is what I thought of THIS version (in other words, can we leave aside the issue of canon vs. fanfiction and questions of who the REAL Harry Potter is, at least for long enough to write a review!) And I don't quite know.
From the very first page, Harry comes off as angry. Really angry. Up until now, Harry has been, in many respects, a borderline Mary Suish person to me, because I've never really gotten inside his head. I've sort of respected his point of view, and for brief instances, I've identified with his situation (the beginning of POA, and his amazement at getting two weeks of deciding what he can do with himself, hit close to home for a formerly homeschooled college student). But here I really felt immersed in his anger, and was actually getting angry on his behalf. I rather like how JKR did this, especially since pretty much all the young boys I know are probably more likely to react with shouting and throwing things than with tears (which is how I tended to write my own post-GoF stuff -- a weepy or depressed Harry was always in the back of my mind). Still, it was disturbing, especially because the anger went unabated for close to 600 pages, and was an undercurrent to the entire book. Normally Harry's moods fluctuate every chapter or so -- angry at Aunt Marge, confused and worried about his own status, free and happy at having a bit of freedom, frustrated at his own weakness in the face of the Dementors -- but here, the anger never really goes away. I remember thinking aloud every couple of dozen places... "he's still angry?" And by the time Hermione confronted him (in a rather passive manner, through Ron) about it, I could see her point. At the same time, part of me was still angry right along with Harry. For heaven's sake, it's not like he could take it out on the person who he was angry at!
Which is, of course, the whole point of this book, as far as I am concerned. Harry has never been good about telling authority figures the things they needed to know, in the past. He doesn't tend to trust anyone but Dumbledore, and then only when there's no choice (and when the dust has settled from the various relevant catastrophes), does he do any kind of confiding (in anyone other than his best friends, and maybe Sirius). Now, here, it seems like he might be finally ready to start acting a little more like a grown-up, in a sort of give-and-take relationship with the people who can help him (who knows, though, it's easy to feel a certain way if you're never allowed to follow through), and he's denied at every turn. Too young to join the Order (YES. Even though they're so late on this issue that they're finally wrong, there should have been SOMEONE to mention to Harry that he was too young to go around saving the world and keeping all the information to himself YEARS AGO), no you can't write to Sirius (and by the by, let's also not give you access to our twenty gazillion better methods of talking to him until it's too late for you to think it'll do any good), let's-just-pretend-we-don't-know-each-other stuff from Dumbledore, etc. This is probably the first time in HP history where Harry really DOES have to take matters into his own hands. The fact that for the first time, his schoolmates have proven themselves fully capable of being independently useful, is icing on THAT cake (and even though we didn’t get an indoctrination-into-the-Order scene out of Dumbledore, I think that Neville, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and that Luna chick ought to be included along with Harry at the soonest possible opportunity), and ought to tell us a little more about what’s coming in the future (after all, now we know that Harry and six friends can do more, materially, to fight Voldemort and ten Death Eaters, than five Order of the Phoenix members can do – and only once did Dumbledore really need to intervene).
There’s all kinds of plot details I’m intrigued about. I won’t say much about the Big Death that was involved, except that NEXT time, I absolutely REFUSE to listen to any spoilers or rumors WHATSOEVER. I spent the better part of 150 pages wondering if THIS would be the character to bite it. Oddly, I never once even CONSIDERED Sirius to be the person who’d die, and I had exactly the same reaction that Harry did when he first went down – okay, so when’s he going to walk back out? I wish we had seen something of Remus or Snape’s reaction to Sirius’ death (or hint of Peter’s continued existence!), but I guess that’ll be fanfiction fodder for the next few years. Harry’s first kiss was with the person who was so obvious that everyone was convinced it wouldn’t be her – a lot of the book was like that, actually. A number of villains remain exactly as two-dimensional as they were in the previous four books, there isn’t a hint of homosexuality anywhere, Hermione still studies and wasn’t really surprised to be a Prefect (though I was that Harry wasn’t), we still don’t know anything about any Ravenclaw other than Luna (who deserves a few Nimbus papers of her own), Draco is still an obnoxious prat who may or may not be Truly Evil (TM ). If only Percy had learned from his mistakes in GoF, I’d consider every major plot point to be right on. And there were enough surprises and twists to keep me interested.
Do I have any predictions about the next book? Plenty, but I want to re-read all five, in order, one right after another, before voicing them. Do I wish some things were a bit different? Sure. Do I wish I could strangle Umbrige, or better yet have Voldemort do it? Of course. Am I completely thrilled that 85% of what I thought was going to be in this book, is different in a way I didn’t expect? Absolutely. Am I going to write a bunch of fanfiction based on or incorporating this book? Heavens, who won’t? I can think of more questions, but those are the big ones, and for some reason, I really wanted to get my first review out less than 24 hours after getting the book. I’ve got 27 minutes left, so I’d better publish this thing already. Stay tuned for further analysis, probably better written and more coherent than this was.
This ends the spoiler section of this post.
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Because only so many people can be eleventh in line.