What We Learned from OotP
First, I'd like to apologize for my column being late. I intended to wait an extra day or two so everyone could finish book 5, but with a sudden loss to a family friend, I was occupied for obvious reasons. (Emerson's Note: He actually finished this about 2 weeks ago, I've just been late getting it up. Sorry!)
To kick things off, I just want to say I hope you all enjoyed book five, and had fun at all the midnight parties if you went to one. I know I did. Now I'm going to talk about all of the questions we had answered in book 5. My next column will discuss all the questions that didn't get answered, and some of the new questions it brought about. Now on to business.
The thing everyone is going to want to talk about first is the death, so here it goes. I'll admit I didn't see it coming, and did predict that Sirius would in fact NOT be the one who died in book five (as some of my mailers so kindly, and some not so kindly, reminded me). In my defense, I did say he could die in a later book, but admittedly , I did not see it coming. JK did a wonderful job of planting many red herrings, leaving hints throughout the book insinuating that it could be Hagrid, MaGonagall, Mr. Weasley or Hermoine that got the axe, but in the end, it was Sirius who kicked the bucket. How much more of this can Harry take? I'm not totally convinced we've heard the last of Sirius, but I am sure we won't see him alive in any capacity ever again.
Some very interesting things were revealed about Petunia in book 5. I'm not buying for one second her story about how she heard about the dementors and Azkaban from James. She also seemed to know exactly what it meant that Voldemort had returned, which leads me to believe she is not a stranger to the wizarding world. It was also pointed out that her eyes were extremely different from Lily's, which I think will be significant, but how I am not sure.
Perhaps the most important part of the book was the prophecy made by Professor Trelawney to Dumbledore. It certainly has major ramifications on the rest of the series, as we learn that nobody other than Harry can kill Voldemort. Quick side note: consider how brave it was of Dumbledore to duel with Voldemort when Albus knew it was a fight he could not possibly win. Anyway, we now know that Harry and Voldemort can't co-exist, one of them has to kill the other. This to me really gives credence to the thought that Harry may not live throughout the entire series (if he were to die, obviously it would be at the end of book 7). Dumbledore also mentions a room in the Department of Mysteries which contains a power that is more wonderful and terrible than death, and he also says Harry has this power in him in staggering qualities. What the power is exactly is never identified, however, I think it is clear that it is this power and not Avada Kerdava that Harry will have to use to kill Voldemort.
It is revealed in book 5 that Snape's mission is spying on the Death Eaters. It does not say how he does it, only that it's his job. Perhaps his proficiency in occlumency has something to do with why he is able to spy on the Death Eaters without being caught, but who knows. The only thing we do know is he couldn't just run back to Voldemort and pretend he has been faithful to him all these years, so I think we will learn a lot more about Severus duties in the next two books. (Emerson's Note: Maybe he's taking the Polyjuice Potion and impersonating Crouch Jr? It never says Voldemort knows Crouch Jr was killed.)
Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom made enormous strides in OotP. Ginny filled in as seeker for Harry, and did very well (another side note, props to Ron who doesn't get enough credit for helping bring Gryffindor its second straight Quidditch Cup). Neville was probably the most impressive student in DA and was equally impressive and brave in fighting Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries. Ginny was also very good in that respect, proving to be very adept at DADA spells and hexes. I think you are going to see both of these characters have increasingly important roles as the series goes on.
We come to learn everything about what's protecting Harry while he's at Privet Drive. Aside from Arabella Figg (who's a squib!) and Mundungus Fletcher helping to watch over him, Dumbledore cooked up an ancient spell using Lily's blood (which runs in Petunia's veins) to make sure Voldemort can't touch Harry while he's with the Dursleys. Major props to Petunia for taking Harry helping protect Harry. She is becoming a cool(er) character, and who would have believed that.
There were a few new interesting characters in OotP. Nymphadora Tonks was pretty awesome, and very enthusiastic. Her ability to change her appearance will come in handy later in the series I think; she won't just be using it to change her hair color. The real Alastor Moody did not disappoint, he was very cool, and just as anal retentive as we were expecting. Professor Umbridge was, well, just plain evil. I loved to hate her, and was so ecstatic watching as she got hers at the end of the book. Kreacher the house elf was also just plain evil. Is it vindictive to hope he gets presented clothes, and then gets hit by the Knight Bus on his way out the door, causing him to die a painful death? Am I going to0 far here? (Emerson: But he's funny!) I think not, Kreacher stinks. I think the most interesting new character was Luna Lovegood. Aside from her faithful devotion to a useless newspaper, she was very intriguing. Keep in mind that she has a lot in common with Harry (a possible love connection?). I think we can expect to see a lot more of Loony Lovegood in books 6 and 7.
Those were the most pertinent questions answered by book 5. But the beautiful thing about book five was that it was like a good politician....It said a lot, and held your attention, but it didn't give a lot of straight answers. It left you with more questions than you had when you began. I'll deal with some of those questions in my next column. See you then!
Joshua Smith is a 20-year-old journalism student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an avid Harry Potter fan.
If you'd like to contact Josh, you may do so here.