Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
Robyn and I just finished reading this one aloud, and it is indeed a hefty tome. Harry Potter is now fifteen, and exhibits all the tendencies of a typical angry teenager. I suppose there's not really a whole lot I can say about the book without giving things away, other than the expected: Harry returns to Hogwarts, Lord Voldemort is back, Dumbledore manages to step in and solve things seemingly without effort, etc. Also, it seems more and more that Harry Potter, rather than being a hero, is really just a none-too-bright kid who happens to have some good friends and more than his share of luck. The wizarding newspaper refers to him as the "Boy Who Lived," and it often appears that that's his only virtue.
We are introduced to Dolores Umbridge, a delightfully vile woman (who, we are reminded quite frequently, looks a bit toadish) unlike most of Harry's past antagonists. It's never entirely clear what her motives are, whether she's working towards more sinister purposes or simply thinks she's doing her job, which makes her a more interesting villain.
The book was fun to read, sufficiently suspenseful, but a bit adverb-heavy. As Stephen King pointed out in his review of the book in Entertainment Weekly, do we really need Rowling to tell us that Harry said something angrily? You'd think she could have at least gotten some use out of a thesaurus. Also, the next-to-last chapter is an almost-too-neat wrap-up of all the questions that were raised throughout the book, every mystery solved, every action explained. I suppose it wouldn't have done to leave readers in suspense for another three years while the next book is being written.
Though the overall tone of my review is nitpicky, I did enjoy the book, and I look forward to the next. I do hope that Harry grows up a bit by the next one, though—he really got on my nerves quite a bit in this one.

Fed to jonathan's brain | August 25, 2003