"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
(Scholastic Inc., 1st American Edition, Hardcover, 2000, read: December 00, February 03, July 07)
"... the pivotal fourth novel in a seven-part tale of Harry Potter's training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly."
Marvelous, thrilling, even better than the third part ... Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts is in no way inferior to the third year regarding adventure, humor and danger. On the contrary: the story is rather complex and even the happy ending isn't without it's grain of salt, but contains some very sad moments. Emotions play an important role: Harry's first love, Hermione's hurt feelings, a big fight between Ron and Harry ... when both reconcile it isn't just Harry who is relieved. As a reader you want to grab them by the ears and force them to be friends again.
This time Harry is an element in a huge conspiracy into which he is drawn and in which he can only try to stay alive. He can't do anything on his own to avoid the inevitable end and has to conquer the danger. But what danger he is facing is revealed to the reader in the same instant it is revealed to Harry. There is no way where one can fathom what's happening. And this leads to one of the most thrilling finales ever written in a book. It's almost impossible to lay the book aside for the last 100 pages.
In the end Harry survives (of course) but he is hurt and changed. And a lot wiser. Now he is able to prepare himself for what he's up against next year. No question: children and adults need strong nerves while reading this book and the time until the next part will pass very slowly!
[Dorothée Büttgen, December 00]
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"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
(Scholastic Inc., 1st American Edition, Hardcover, 2003, read: August 03)
"There is a door at the end of a silent corridor. And it's haunting Harry Potter's dreams. Why else would he be waking in the middle of the night, screaming in terror? Here are just a few things on Harry's mind: A Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher with a personality like poisoned honey. A venomous, disgruntled house-elf. Ron as keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. The looming terror of the end-of-term Ordinary Wizarding Level exams.
... and of course, the growing threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In the richest installment yet of J.K. Rowlings seven-part story, Harry Potter is faced with the unreliability of the very government of the magical world and the impotence of the authorities at Hogwarts.
Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he finds depth and strenght in his friends, beyond what even he knew: boundless loyalty; and unbearable sacrifice..."
Yes, the waiting period has been long and I would have loved to say that it was worth it. But on the contrary: What ended so thrilling and magnificently in the fourth part couldn't be continued in the fifth. Instead of a must-read-novel it's a book which one might read if nothing else is available at home, but which isn't worth the effort to work through. And in part it really was work not just because its really big and heavy with its 870 pages. 200-300 pages less would have done the story good and you wouldn't have missed a single highlight.
Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts is hard. Everyone and everything is working against him and he has no idea why. Apart from some minor highlights the story is depressing without end. Most of the time I asked myself when finally someone would take pity on Harry (and me) and tell him about the sense of it all. Because it was clear that there had to be a master-plan. Only the way through it all was one without much variety - nothing happened (exactly the opposite of the fourth part, where the single tasks of the Triwizard Tournament led from one highlight to another). The fact that the solution to the puzzle wasn't really thrilling at all doesn't even make the overall impression worse.
I really love the whole Harry Potter universe and think the fourth one is a masterpiece. But the fifth part, in my opinion, is just too frustrating and not any fun at all.
[Dorothée Büttgen, October 03]
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