Commiserating with Jords.
called last night, quite late and quite upset about OotP. Her main issue with it was that she didn't know how she was supposed to feel about it. Parts were really good, but other parts were..well, she talks about them here. (SPOILER WARNING: Don't go there if you don't want to know large chunks of the book.)
I think part of the problem is that sometimes, a great author turns out a book he/she thinks is wonderful and the readers get it and go “What the hell?!?!” Order of the Phoenix may be one of those books. Haven't read it myself (and I don't plan to), so I can't comment on that. I have seen it in other authors though, and they generally fall into two categories (and yes, I hear the screams of “It's more complicated than that!” I agree, but I wanted to make this a short post):
1. Everybody has an off day – The book's not what it should have been. The author thinks it's great, the readers disagree. Generally, the next book is better. Sometimes there's two duds in a row.
2. The Brain Eater's got them – Doff your hat, they're circling the drain. My own personal example of this is Tom Clancy. After I saw at the end of “The Sum of All Fears” (good book, awful movie which twisted the book completely out of whack) that Jack Ryan was now President of the United States, I knew that I was in for Deep Hurting in the next book (and I was.)
Based on what Jords told me, I think it's option one for Ms. Rowling. Also, part of the howls of confused disappointment emanating from the HP community may be the result of a couple of things. Devoted fans have been waiting years for this book, and the hype has been intense. It's not unreasonable to see that a lot of people wanted something that would justify their years of waiting and were disconsolate when the book's reality didn't match their expectation.
Moment of Zen