Adolescence is not an easy stage of life. I remember when I was a teenager I would often find myself having fits of anger without any reason at all. I would be pissed with people that I did not even know, I would antagonize my parents and friends just for the sake of doing it. As Harry is now a fifteen year old, we find him going through all this hormonal problems. Throw in the mixture the fact that there is a psychopath trying to kill him while no one believes what he says and, to worsen the situation, his friends have ignored him during all summer, and you have a perfect recipe for explosive behavior.tThe atmosphere of this book is, since the beginning, much more mature than in the predecessors. As in Goblet of Fire, here Harry starts being attacked by his enemies already at the beginning of the book. Because of these attacks, he is summoned to a hearing at the Ministry of Magic. So, after having passed the whole summer without a word from friends and even from Dumbledore, he is “rescued” from the Dursleys’ by a bunch of people, some of which he has never seen before. He ends up being transported to the old mansion of Sirius’ family, which is serving as headquarters to the people that want to oppose Voldemort and his followers.tHere is where I started noticing the big difference in atmosphere on this book in comparison to the previous ones. There is no staring at everything that is magical in awe anymore, there are no more long descriptions giving background to every little magical thing that pops up in the story. It is clear that Rowling is expecting everyone to know their whereabouts while reading her story already, so she focuses more on character/relationships development than in any former book.tRegarding the Black mansion, while it was fun to explore a new place, I found it particularly hard to accept that such a nice sensible person as Sirius is related to someone as nasty as Bellatrix Lestrange. It’s just… not right. tAnyway, soon enough we are led to Harry’s hearing, which allow us to see for the first time some parts of the Ministry of Magic. I actually liked the Ministry, in general, but didn’t like most people working there. Especially at Harry’s hearing, everyone was treating him harshly, even those who were supposed to support him; really sad. Here we are also introduced to one of the character who would become hated by almost everyone: Dolores Umbridge, but I will talk more about her later.tWell, after this events everyone is soon enough on their way back to Hogwarts. This is when we are introduced to one of my favorite characters ever: Luna Lovegood. I like her so much! Yes, she is lunatic, but she is so essentially good and innocent, being at the same time extremely wise, that I can’t help the feeling that we would be really good friends if she was a real person. As the story goes on, she unknowingly acts like a wall of stability in Harry’s life, even when darkness seems to be winning, and that is really sweet.tAs for the normal school affairs, there is a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, as usual, only this time it’s a woman: Dolores Umbridge. Yes, a former Ministry agent as a teacher. She soon makes it clear that she is going to teach following strict guidelines given by the Minister of Magic and no one else’s. That gradually leads some students to act rebelliously, trying to learn how to defend themselves properly on their own. When this fact comes to Umbridge’s attention, she manages to pull a few strings of her own, what makes the imperative influence that the Ministry had been imposing over Hogwarts to grow even more. Things soon get out of Dumbledore’s control, Hogwarts becomes almost like a military school. This is what makes me hate Umbridge so much; she manages to, for almost an entire book, destroy that welcoming atmosphere that made me think of Hogwarts as home, and this is unacceptable. Sooner than later the students get their little piece of revenge on her, though, and that is amusing to see.tAnyway, political conflict isn’t the biggest problem during Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. Comparing to when he starts having very vivid nightmares and those start coming true, that is nothing. Yes, the evil lurking outside is not only outside anymore, it’s tormenting him from inside his own head. This peculiar situation leads to a few very especial lessons and impressive discoveries about Harry’s father past in Hogwarts. It’s interesting to get to know a little bit more about his parents under a different, not so friendly, perspective.tDespite his lessons against mental rape, though, Harry is not strong enough. Evil uses the window of opportunity created by his young mind to lead him and his friends into the most epic adventure in the series so far, in my opinion. Unfortunately, not everyone gets out of it unharmed and the outcome of it changes not only Harry’s life forever, but also the whole world’s. We were used to the customary pattern on the former books: Harry is with the Dursleys during the summer; at the end of the summer he would go to the Weasleys' or some other place and then to school; something serious would happen during his stay there and he and his friends would try to solve the problem. Not anymore. Not after this book. There’s no safe place any longer, not even Hogwarts.tI like this book a lot. It’s my favorite after The Prisoner of Azkaban, actually. Despite the darker tone, which is present since the beginning, it still contains some very sweet parts and hilarious scenes that made me laugh hard. My only advice would be to people be prepared to lose some favorite character here and there, for in this book Rowling starts to display some symptoms of what I call the “George R. R. Martin syndrome”. Beware. Interesting quotes that I didn't include in the review: Wit beyond measure is a man's greatest treasure. Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike. Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect. Youth can not know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young. The Last Passage(view spoiler)[ `Well…' said Moody, pushing back his bowler hat to reveal his sinisterly revolving magical eye. Uncle Vernon leapt backwards in horror and collided painfully with a luggage trolley. `Yes, I'd have to say you do, Dursley'He turned away from Uncle Vernon to survey Harry.`So, Potter… give us a shout if you need us. If we don't hear from you for three days in a row, we'll send someone along…'Aunt Petunia whimpered piteously. It could not have been plainer that she was thinking of what the neighbours would say if the't caught sight of these people marching up the garden path.`Bye, then, Potter,' said Moody, grasping Harry's shoulder for a moment with a gnarled hand.`Take care, Harry,' said Lupin quietly. `Keep in touch.'`Harry, we'll have you away from there as soon as we can,' Mrs. Weasley whispered, hugging him again.`We'll see you soon, mate,' said Ron anxiously, shaking Harry's hand.`Really soon, Harry' said Hermione earnestly. `We promise.'Harry nodded. He somehow could not find words to tell them what it meant to him, to see them all ranged there, on his side. Instead, he smiled, raised a hand in farewell, turned around and led the way out of the station towards the sunlit street, with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley hurrying along in his wake. (hide spoiler)]
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