ACIDIC ANGST AND SINISTER SCHEMES
This book put me off Harry Potter for a long long time. I wasn't disappointed, I wasn't irritated, I straightforward disliked the book.
After the events in Goblet of Fire, Harry is a bitter, angry person. The wizarding world thinks he's a liar, the Ministry is out to get him and even Dumbledore is avoiding him. And, he has one of his worst Defence Against Dark Arts teachers yet, the squeaky sadistic Umbridge. Harry faces greater challenges than before, including a link to Voldemort's thoughts that could upset his life, culminating in an event that snatches away someone very dear to him.
I got so irritated with this book that I quit after Harry's trial at the Ministry of Magic, and only picked it up a couple of years later when Half-Blood Prince was released, when I thought that maybe I shouldn't leave the series incomplete. I heard that Rowling also got bored while writing the book; it clearly shows in the text. All Harry does in this book is shout, at his friends who patiently (too patiently, I thought) deal with his temper, at his sympathizers and at Dumbledore (at the end). I understand that it was the Voldemort connection that influenced his emotions, but the angst was overkill.
That doesn't mean that Order of the Phoenix doesn't have its moments. I especially loved the part about Fred and George's escape from Hogwarts, and the resulting chaos that followed. Of course, the ending was heartwrenching and affected me a lot; Harry's tragedy felt like my own. I thought that some bits shone brightly amongst the rest, much like a couple of gold blocks floating in a swamp. The swamp could have been trimmed down with some crisp editing, but that was obviously not what happened. It seemed like there was some compulsion for each book to be fatter than the other, because this certainly seemed to be what affected this book. A slimmer, tighter story would have been so much better.