Audiobook Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Audiobook)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling

Narrated by Jim Dale

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

Series: Harry Potter (5)
Genres: FantasyChildren’sFiction
Published By: Scholastic in 2003 (First Hardcover Release)
Format: Digital Audiobook (27 hours, 2 minutes)

Goodreads / LibraryThing

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

Review

Confession:  I like some Harry Potter books better than others.  I have read Prisoner of Azkaban a couple dozen times.  … I have read Order of the Phoenix three times.  First, when it came out.  Second, right before the movie came out.  Third, this time.  This time was by far the best, and for one glaring reason:  CAPSLOCK!Harry is a lot more tolerable when you can’t see all the angry capital letters.  There are aspects of OotP that are so cool, and the cast of characters is great, but this is still my least favorite in the series.  That said?  Still four hearts.

Characters

Considering the fact that OotP introduces Luna Lovegood, who is one of my favorite characters in the series, you’d think that this would get a heart.  Considering how perfectly unlikable Umbridge is, and how well-written she is, you’d think this would get a heart.  Fact of the matter is, most of the characters in this book are really good… but Harry.  Harry Potter is the most frustrating, angry, selfish kid.  I get that he’s gone through a lot, and I have to give so many props to Ron and Hermione for putting up with him.  I dislike Harry so much in this book that it took it down a heart for me.

 World

❤︎

The world of Harry Potter continues to enchant.  In as far as setting goes, OotP is one of my favorites, because we get to explore a new corner of the world in the Ministry of Magic.  I love the Department of Mysteries and I feel like there are so many possibilities and stories within the objects the friends come across.  You also really get the feeling that they’ve only begun to brush the surface.  If there was a series that followed a Department of Mysteries employee, I would absolutely read it.

A bit of a mini-rant here – most of the Department of Mysteries was cut from the film version of this book and while I generally like the movie quite a lot, I think the loss of that magic does the story a disservice.

Story

❤︎

The breakdown of the wizarding government and Hogwarts staff is essential to transition the wizarding world into this new, darker shade.  For what it is, it’s done very well, developing characters and showing the true colors of people.  Rowling has a theme to her plots where the ultimate endgame in all of them is “stop Voldemort” (excepting Prisoner of Azkaban) and even though it’s been used, we look forward to it.  Of particular interest this time is that Harry doesn’t go in alone and play the hero.  SPOILERS!  I really, really love that Neville is the last man standing with Harry in the showdown in the Department of Mysteries.  Despite all odds, we finally get to see what this character is made of, and we see a sampling of what ultimately becomes book seven.

 Writing / Narration

❤︎

As much as CAPSLOCK!Harry bothers me, he actually makes perfect sense and the stylistic choices in this book were good ones to suit the characters.  As a narrator, Jim Dale also continues to do an excellent job.  I have a bit of a pet peeve with his female voices (I mentioned this in the SS/PS review with Hermione), and I’m not crazy about Luna’s and Bellatrix’s, but I have a suspicion that I will get used to them.  I sympathize – there’s only so many female voices a male reader can do, and I can always tell who is talking… he doesn’t use them twice.

Actually, I’m going to give extra props to Jim Dale on his reading, because I am simultaneously listening to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which he also narrates.  Between the two different books the voices still all feel different.  He masterfully uses tone and accent to differentiate between people.  Ten points to Gryffindor!

Personal Thoughts

❤︎

This books is a series of extremes for me.  I really don’t like Harry.  I really love Fred and George.  I really find it frustrating that Harry forgot about that incredibly useful mirror the entire story that could have fixed everything but he doesn’t even realize that.  I love that Umbridge is a pink-cardigan, kitty cat plate villain everyone loves to hate.  The two merge together to make a pretty good book, but it comes up short compared to the rest of the series.

Fred and George’s war against Umbridge is one of my favorite parts of the entire series, so it gets props for that as well.

TL;DR

Nothing my favorite of the series, but there are some really great moments.  It is a turning point for the series.


Source

I get all of my digital audiobooks from Audible… including this one!  However, if you purchase this from Pottermore, I think that a portion of the profits go to the Lumos charity? I may be wrong.


First Sentence

“The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.”


Some of My Favorite Quotes

“Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?”

“Yes.”

“You called her a liar?”

“Yes.”

“You told her He Who Must Not Be Named is back?”

“Yes.”

“Have a biscuit, Potter.”

“Give her hell from us, Peeves.”

“But Dumbledore says he doesn’t care what they do as long as they don’t take him off the Chocolate Frog cards.”

“Mistletoe,” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry’s head. He jumped out from under it.

“Good thinking,” said Luna seriously. “It’s often infested with nargles.”


Available At

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound / Audible

Audiobook Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Braken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra BrackenThe Darkest Minds

by Alexandra Braken

Narrated by Amy McFadden

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

Series: The Darkest Minds (1)
Genres: FantasyDystopiaYoung AdultScience Fiction
Published By: Disney Hyperion in 2012 (First Hardcover Release)
Format: Digital Audiobook (14 hours)

Goodreads / LibraryThing

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

Review

This book has been on my TBR list forever – the way my hardcopy reading is going, I would have never gotten to it.  Thank goodness for the audiobook!  Although I think I really would have liked it better without the narrator….

Characters

❤︎

I’ve bounced back and forth on whether I liked the characters or not in this book, and ultimately, it really came down to the character.  For a protagonist, Ruby’s not bad.  She definitely grows and evolves, and I love the fact she isn’t awesome at everything.  It’s immensely frustrating when a protagonist excels at everything.  The lead boy, Liam, is not my favorite, but I thought Chubs was pretty well developed.  Zu was adorable.  Clancy was the worst.  Overall I have to say that Braken did a pretty good job with character development.

 World

❤︎

The Darkest Minds takes place in a crumbling world, but not a post-apocalyptic one.  Especially at the beginning of the book, you get a sense of the chaos that has ensued in the ten years Ruby’s been in camp.  Empty houses and city blocks, looted stores, a partially exploded school – all these are nuances breaking apart what used to be a normal life.  I had some issues with the calm highway miles and the complete lack of people who weren’t bounty hunters, but neither of these things are enough to break the illusion of the world.

Story

❤︎

I kept trying to predict this book, and I kept failing.  I kept waiting for things to blow up in Ruby’s face, and for the most part, they didn’t.  I kept waiting for the worst YA cliches to bounce in and although they started to trickle from time to time… they didn’t fully evolve.  Thank you.  The book ended differently than I expected, too.  When it comes to YA, it’s so important to me that I not be able to predict the book.  Predictable books are boring.

Overall, Braken is telling a story of a generation that has developed mutant powers (five varieties only).  The older generation, terrified of their children (mostly), have abandoned them to the government.  The morality of this has split the country, and meanwhile, the children are tortured, tested on like lab animals, and generally neglected.  It’s not a great situation.  It’s not the most original idea, but Braken does manage to tell it in an original way.

Also, I kept waiting for a love triangle.  I was sure it would happen.  It didn’t.  Some bits with one of the characters near the end got pretty sappy… but it never actually became a triangle!

 Writing / Narration

The biggest reason for the loss of a heart in this category is the narrator.  Amy McFadden was not the worst narrator I’ve heard, but several of her voices (Liam’s!) really bugged me.  Ruby always sounded like she had such an attitude as well, which didn’t come across in the writing at all.  It just irritated me.

Braken made some interesting writing choice for a YA novel, including what is implied to be a rape scene.  Very little of this is described as the main character is being mentally manipulated, but it may not be what some parents want their ‘tweens reading.  The scene that bothered me the most?  Within an hour of waking after the attack, the protagonist very nearly starts making out with someone else.  Not quite, but almost.  I was enraged.  If Braken allowed it to go from rape to teen makeout session, I was done.  It didn’t, but it felt really, really close.

Personal Thoughts

❤︎

Overall, I really did like this book.  There were a couple things that made me mad, but the story as a whole was well-done and interesting, with characters that I became invested in.  The book ended with several questions that I want answered – such as Did that character live?  Did that other one reach his/her destination?  WTF is Ruby’s plan? and so forth.  I’ll be picking up the sequel at some point for sure.

 

TL;DR

Well done, with characters I cared about.  Didn’t love the narrator, or the villains.  Ended with questions!


Source

I purchased this audiobook from Audible almost exactly a year ago – April 3, 2016.


First Sentence

“When the white noise went off, we were in the garden, pulling weeds.”


Some of My Favorite Quotes

“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

“He’s so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they’re holding in their hand.”

When a girl cries, few things are more worthless than a boy.

“Maybe nothing will ever change for us,” he said. “But don’t you want to be around just in case it does?”


Available At

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound / Audible /