In July 2003, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix became the fastest selling book in history. It's not surprising with all hype surrounding it; two movies and a third in the making, both official and unofficial fan clubs, book readings, Hallowe'en costume possibilites, not to mention the thousands of websites on the internet. It would be a great big understatement to say that the book series is popular. Children go ga-ga over the fictional Harry and his adventures, and are eager and begging for more.
Now, I know that I'm not a Potter expert by a long shot, nor a huge fan. I may not remember all the characters names, or specific details of the Potter universe, and I have even created a couple "mimi-aragogs" in the past. I own the first four books in a lovely box set and am waiting until book five comes out in paperback; I'm not in a panic to get book five as much as a Tolkien related book. I enjoyed reading the books in a short span of time, because they're children's books and it didn't take me long to read the first three... but then what happened?!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is 635 pages long and that's nothing compared to Order of the Phoenix, which is 766! Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but when was the last time you saw a ten year old sit and read a 766 page book on his/her own for their enjoyment. My Bible is only 157 pages more than that, three books of the Narnia series books equals all of those pages, and it's bigger than Fellowship of the Ring which is considered overall as adult fiction. What happened? Why is this book so big?! I, personally, have to rest this book against my bed when I'm reading; I can't hold it up for four hours. If this is considered "children fiction", you could have fooled me.
The fact is, the tone of the books changes in the fourth; it's much darker. I won't reveal what happens in it for any who haven't read it, but for those of you who have, you know what I mean: darker magic, "Death Eaters" meeting, and much more You-Know-Who involvement. Not only that, but... oooh Cedric. If I had children, I wouldn't let them read book 4 until they were older, or unless I was reading to them, to know what they were reading and to help explain things and put it into context.
And as I read these books, I'm surprised at how juvenile the writing style is for the size of the novel. Yes, it's "children's literature", but even this is no excuse. I'm exposed to Howlers (audio screaming letters), notices on bulletins, and regular shouting from the cast. All right, I find the idea of the Howlers to be interesting and original, but... does the writer have to put the text all capitalized? When I'm reading it, my "inner ear" is hurting from being shouted at; I have a good enough imaginary sound system in my head, I don't need to have the text turn up the volume and "blast" my ear drums with capitalization.
Another thing that I noticed in the books was mostly everything is said. Yes, "said", with the occational "whisper", "yelled" and "shriek".