I am so not good at this.
Anyway. I was talking ages back to a RL friend of mine about Order of the Phoenix, and she said something interesting - that the new characters introduced in Book V were harder to accept than the characters from previous books because of the huge void between the publishing of the books. I agreed.
The problem with the three-year gap between books IV and V is not that people would forget, but that they would become hypothetical and pose 'what if' questions. In other words, fan fiction. It filled the gap nicely and now half the original readers are convinced that Snape wears stockings under his robes and bangs Lupin late at night, that Lucius beats his son and eats babies and that Potter and Draco were Meant To Be.
Sometimes it's hard to separate fiction from canon, especially when one idea has been written over and over again, like Cho being an absolute bitch - when we have absolutely no canon ground for such thoughts. Maybe I speak for myself here, but I think there must be at least a few others like me.
So when Book V came out, we all had to hurriedly readjust ourselves, and the more energetic ones of us reread the books beforehand. And all is wonderful. Or not.
Book IV had lovely, bubbly, friendly, worried Harry Potter.
Book V has Mr. Psychotic Angst. Being of the same age of the current Mr. Potter, I have to say I think JKR over did the angst thing just a little. Then again, I don't have people out for my blood (well, I won't if I do my homework after this) and so on and so forth. I digress.
The transition between the two Potters was not smooth. Ron and Hermione remained more or less the same, as did most of the other characters, bar Black and a few others, making him seem hugely disproportionate in his dementia.
And then enter Tonks.
My first reaction was a silent groan and then to think 'Ahh! Mary Sue baby-machine! No!' Someone who can change their appearance at will, the bouncing friendly-yet-clumsy, female-Auror, I-hate-my-first-name, call-me-Tonks, wotcher. I couldn't help but think that JKR had created a Mary Sue of her own.
Apparently someone has paired her with Snape. I want to find this fic and watch it burn. I'm digressing again.
My point is that she was so new and un-forewarned that my immediate reaction was very similar to my reactions to original characters in fanfiction. Similarly, when we had the descriptions of Kingsley Shacklebolt, I thought 'token black guy' (which is probably hugely Politically Incorrect, but I couldn't help but be touched by the first film - not enough black characters?). The question is what use is he serving? That he’s supposed to be searching for Sirius is not essential to the plot. That he’s a member of the Phoenix shouldn’t elevate him to such a high status. He’ll probably have a greater part to play later on in the books, but meanwhile, I’m sitting here wondering what and why. This book is just one big introduction.
Equally, Luna is a newbie and a weirdbe as well. I don’t like her at all, and again, she serves very little use. She is more important than Shacklebolt, since her father owns the Quibbler, which was pretty much essential to the plot. I don’t like her character, but I’m more agreeable towards her than I am to Shacklebolt, since she does serve a purpose and she isn’t around at every available opportunity.
Some other characters clicked much more easily, but there were far too many that were introduced all at once, in my humble opinion. Moody's back, plus comedic value, we learn more about Mrs. Figg (Ha! she wasn't Crookshanks! Had to throw that in..), we find out more about the only-briefly-mentioned Mundungus Fletcher. Those who have been mentioned before have links back to Book IV, III, II and I, the same with the Room of Requirement and so on. Those with lifelines back to earlier books agreed with me much more. Dolores Umbridge worked because we knew about her very vaguely before hand. We knew that there would be a new Defence teacher, and JKR had even announced that she would be female. Umbridge was expected, though not in the form she came out in. Bellatrix worked because of Goblet, the Death Eaters worked though why there isn't more Bellatrix/Rudolphus is easy enough to work out.
But I can see a possible divide occurring - Book IV and before fanfiction vs. Book V and beyond fanfiction. Maybe I'm stating the obvious, since the time gap was so huge. So much changed in Book V, characters and events included that it would have, in some ways, been better in two books. This wasn’t possible since it’s just one year, but to look at it as it is, it’s just one big filler-book. It’s like a chapter in a book that’s just there to move characters around to the right place, setting it up for the next bit.
Which, of course, is exactly what it is. But instead of being just one chapter, it’s 766 pages with very little familiar scenery. The lessons we see very little of, unlike previous books. We get much less of the academic Harry-at-school view, and much more Harry-the-Hero. He gets a nearly!girlfriend, he sees Black die, he goes overboard on every little thing.
I guess what I'm trying to put across is that the fanfiction for and after Book V will be a lot slower coming and being read. Perhaps I'm completely wrong. It's quite possible that I am, in fact.