Now, GoF is special to me, because it's my absolute favorite book of the series, and has held that unwavering spot since its release. Book 4 is really a big turning point in the series, obviously, with Voldemort coming back and things becoming a bit darker and more real, and I love book 5 as the first book that really starts dealing with the reality of Voldemort's return. We also delve even deeper into death, as Harry experiences his first big, real loss, the first death of somebody he loves and cares about. (That he's aware of, I mean, yeah, his parents, but that's a bit different than seeing Sirius fall through the veil in front of him).
[Random fandom aside: I've become so perverted since getting into fandom. It's my first big reread since I started reading fanfic, and I swear, everything is so dirty now! There is this scene at the beginning between Dudley and Harry talking about wands and it was like innuendo city and I don't even ship them at all! That happened a million times during the book, perfectly innocent comments had me giggling like mad.]
First off, I adore angry, caps-lock Harry. It makes me violently upset when people go off on Harry's "anger" problems in this book and how he's a jerk. Um, are we reading the same series? Because I am 100% with Harry on this one. I think he has a ton of legit, justifiable reasons for his frustration and anger, and I think it would have been totally bizarre if he didn't finally start venting some of that out. I actually think he handles things really well, considering. The whole time I was reading, I just kept thinking about how bloody enraged I would be in a similar situation, and I probably would not manage to check myself as easily as Harry does. He feels guilty for snapping at people, he recognizes when he's taking out his anger on others, he apologizes and admits when he's being a bit of a dick. I love him for that. I love him for being human and I personally think his anger is so relatable. I don't want a protagonist who deals with the kind of shit Harry deals with, and is totally sanguine about it. That's boring and unrealistic and lacks emotional complexity.
This book also gives me major Sirius feels. JKR does such a fabulous job showing Sirius and his struggle with feeling useless, with being trapped in his toxic house, with trying to be an authority figure to Harry AND a friend. I really like how we get to see some different opinions on Sirius's actions, though, TBH, Molly in this book is probably my least favorite. I'm not a mom, but I don't like how she acts towards Sirius, and I don't like how she tries to coddle the children, though intellectually I can see where she's coming from. ANYWAYS, the lack of Sirius in the movies, particularly in the 5th movie was one of my biggest gripes, because without his presence, without seeing how Harry comes to rely and depend on him and care for him, his death at the end of OotP lacks the punch that the book has. Though more on that later.
[shipper aside: holy fuck is this book fabulous for the Sirius/Harry shipper in me. Honestly, I prefer canon-ish fics with them, aka fics that take place during this book, just because their relationship is so perfect for the dynamic I want between them. I love them both, but TBH I don't see them as a happily ever after ship. Harry's finally old enough here that the underage isn't a squick for me, and their interaction and the connection they have throughout the book is just fabulous. Though I wish there was a thousand percent more hugging. Like, not even sexual hugging, but just like, lots of big bear hugs, because I think they are both a big touch-starved.]
The DA! The DA is my absolute favorite! I love everything about it. I love rebel Hermione coming up with the idea. I love supportive Ron saying that Harry teaching is actually a good idea. I love Harry being reluctant and humble and such a good teacher! I love the room of requirement, and the protean charm galleons, and how happy it makes Harry to be fighting back. I just. I love it.
Umbridge. God she really is the fucking worst. I love her totally evil pervasive presence in the book, and how it sort of mirrors Voldemort, but so much more immediate. I like how Umbridge is supposedly on the "good side" and the side of the Ministry, but JKR does such a good job of showing that, as Sirius says, "The world is not divided into good people and Death Eaters.". That bigotry and hate can flourish in a person/society/government etc. without them necessarily straight up murdering people. But, of course, she also brilliantly shows how these kind of people are so susceptible to greater corruption. Umbridge hates half-breeds and people she deems lesser than herself, a theology not unlike that of the Death Eaters. She probably wasn't quite up for outright torture/murder, and didn't want to be associated with "dark wizards", but if you give her and people like her an excuse to do what they want and paint it with a lighter brush, then that's okay with them. I'm not articulating this all that well I don't think, but I think JKR just does a brilliant job showing different kinds of corruption and evil. Umbridge, IMO, is almost worse the Voldemort, because she spews her vitriolic hate under the guise of acting for the greater good and bettering wizarding kind, she does it with authority and permission from all the relevant sources, as if that makes it okay. It's a sort of cowardly, casual, everyday evil.
Sort of got on a tangent there. What I actually meant to talk about is the horribleness of the Blood-Quill. I seriously get shivers whenever I think of it. I mean, this sociopath thinks that is suitable punishment for children! It makes me a bit ill. Fucking ingenious punishment idea from JKR though, and I fucking love Harry's sass. (Of course, she also think it's cool to use the Cruciatus on Harry later on, so, not the best person ever. I mean, when getting somebody to tel you something, wouldn't Imperio be better? Why you got to go with the pain-inflicting curse, Umbridge?)
The fight with Malfoy! God, Draco really is in fine fucking form this book, isn't he. He's such a little shit. I sort of love the Quidditch fight though. I don't know why, but something about the way it's written has always grabbed me. I think I can just so perfectly picture it, picture the three chasers holding Fred back, see Harry holding George back, and then Malfoy makes that one crack about Harry's parents, and he lets go, and then both him and George are flying at him...I think Harry's anger is such a theme in this book, his helplessness to stop what's happening, enduring the judgement of his peers and the wizarding world, feeling totally clueless about what's happening with Voldemort, about the things that directly have to do with him. I think there needed to be some kind of physical release/manifestation of that pent-up frustration. Though, Umbridge fucking banning them all from Quidditch and then goddamn chaining their brooms up. Such a crazy person! This whole book I just feel lke using that Achorman meme.
Cho. I've pretty much always been meh on Cho, but I like that there is that romance aspect. Again, it just sort of grounds things a bit. I think that I might have liked if there was, in general, a bit more teenagery romance in the series, but I get why she didn't go that route, and it's not like I think not talking about sex more ruins the books or anything. Plus, that why we get fanfic!
Reading the whole Marietta tattles scene; man, she really just does not fare well there, does she? TBH, I'm not somebody who really has strong feelings one way or the other on the Hermione hex, but what did strike me, is Kingsley just casually modifying Marietta's memory like that. Maybe, as a mere Muggle, I view memory modification as a significantly greater violation of self than the wizards do, but for some reason, reading about this grown man altering her memory like that really rubbed me the wrong way. I get why he did it, and it was for the greater good, but it still bugged me a bit.
Love the DADA O.W.L. scene where Harry casts his patronus like a boss. Suck it, Umbridge.
I really like Ginny in this book, how she starts to come into her own more, now that she's not pining after Harry. I like how she tells him off when he snaps at her, and I love how loyal her, Luna, & Neville all are.
Sirius's death always gets me, but more than his actual death scene, it's Harry reaction that kills me. I was reading this last bit by the pool in my hotel, and I was totally fine until Harry's in Dumbledore's office, and then I was basically fighting back tears. The way JKR shows Harry anger and grief and frustration, the way she shows us Dumbledore and his regret and sadness, it's all so lovely and heartbreaking. Sirius's death gets to me, because I love his character, but also because of how devastated Harry is at his loss. And then we hear about the prophecy, which at this point in the series, isn't much of a surprise. Worse for me is hearing Dumbledore list out all the things Harry's had to overcome, all the hardships and struggles he's endured, and I just sort of ache for him. Because he's so good, you know? And he's screaming about how he wants out, and I just want to give him a hug.
Basically, I love this book so much. It makes me feels so many different emotions, and it really is another big turning point in the series. We get more glimpses into the Ministry and how they can't always be trusted, we learn about the Order and the order members, we have Harry experiencing one of his biggest losses yet and learning about the kinds of sacrifices he's going to have to make, we have Harry finally learning about the prophecy and his role as the chosen one, and we finally have the world acknowledging that Voldemort has returned.
Already excited to read the next book! There are a few moments in particular that I adore, and I'm excited to reread!