Maybe it’s because the previous book, Goblet of Fire, marked a turning point for Harry and the rest of the wizarding world that the tone of urgency inevitably carried over to Order of the Phoenix. After all, the fourth book ends on Cedric Diggory’s death, one of the first serious murders we witness on the page: more importantly, it ends on Voldemort’s return, and Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge’s cowardly decision to blacklist anyone who endorses the so-called rumor.
From the onset, Order of the Phoenix stands at odds with the previous books. The weeks preceding when we first see Harry, lying supine in Petunia’s flowerbeds, have been harrowing for him and Dumbledore. The press, encouraged by Fudge, have begun a smear campaign against the both of them, ruining their reputation.
But this, we come to learn only later.
Before we even know what is going on, readers can’t help but notice how downright pissed off Harry is. He is biting, he is on edge. There is something vitriolic underneath his surface, just begging to be released. If, in Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry intended to run away after hexing the Dursleys, it’s in this book, for the first time, that the threat is actually believable.
What also stood out to me, the first time, was that a line seemed to have drawn itself deeply in the sand, separating Harry from his closest friends even more than before. Even more so, I say, because I never felt like the trio was actually a trio. His circumstances had always stood him apart from Hermione and Ron, but there was always that assurance that it could never be strong enough to separate him from love: because love was stronger than loneliness, because friendship conquered all, because people stood stronger together, and all that noise.
Presently, and with no exception, Harry’s anger is directed at every single person he knows, and through his furious, red-tinted gaze, everything is affected: Mrs. Weasley is pitiful, Lupin’s caution is irritating, Mr. Weasley seems tired, Ron and Hermione are smug and insensitive — hell, even hilarious, warmhearted Fred and George border on the annoying.
Dumbledore is the character for whom Harry reserves his most contemptuous hatred: his erstwhile mentor comes across as apathetic, callous, frigid. When, at one point of the book, Harry felt a sudden, overwhelming urge to kill the man, I could almost understand the impulse (although I certainly would not have condoned it).