Rowling is very clever!
I mean.. everyone knows that she's good at keeping the details of her book secret.. but by planning to leak that someone will die, she has you guessing about who it is throughout all the tight spots. I think this is effective emotionally, too, b/c you're getting a much heavier sense of the danger Harry is into this year, and realizing what his world would be like without those closest to him.
When the deed is actually done.. I was surprised at who it was. It wasn't who I expected it to be.... and I was very sad T..T I mean.. it wouldn't be a Harry Potter book without a few twists and turns, right?
But... if she hadn't leaked that a character would die, you would read the entire book expecting most everyone to come out allright in the end... and for it to have some sort of definite happy ending, right? Sitting down, reading Goblet of Fire was a completely different experience than reading Order of the Phoenix. Even with the danger in Goblet of Fire, you're still sitting there rooting for Harry... Even if you don't know how he's going to get out of his mess, you know that he'll be able to pull through somehow, and manage to save the day.
With the hype about the death of a main character in Order of the Phoenix.. you're sitting there, rooting for Harry... but realizing that perhaps he's getting over his head in some spots. There were many times in the book where I really wouldn't have done or said some of the things he did.. and I was surprised that my opinion of him faltered just a bit.
Harry's character, over all.. stayed true to the development of the previous books..
But as Goblet left off on a cliffhanger.. you just don't know what the effects of the previous schoolyear are just yet. You don't know how they may have changed Harry as a person... So much so that I feel to a certain extent that in some spots Harry seems to be a completely different person.
I have to also attribute that to his age, though >..< Like Ringo said... RAGING HORMONES!
Well, it's not THAT bad.. but it still is kinda bad in some places.
It's not like Ron and Harry sneak around Hogwarts trying to magick the clothing off girls or anything that bad, but within the context of the world the characters are in, you find that some things stay surprisingly the same.
I really like the character treatment Neville got in this book. I've always liked him as a character... b/c even if he wasn't very good at much of anything, he always tried very hard. In this book, I feel that Neville really develops as a character, and almost "catches up" to the other 3 kids in development. Neville was always just kinda dorky& clumsy, etc in the other books to me.. and it was normally just left at that. He was a re-occuring character that served to make Harry look smarter in school.. (B/c Harry always came off to me as an underacheiver who wasn't really that good at his schoolwork. I spent the first two books wondering how he managed to cast simple spells b/c it seemed he never spent any time actually LEARNING anything) But in this book, you really see some growth in Neville, and that makes me happy, b/c I really like him as a character :D
I have to admit, though.. when I got to book 5, I had completely forgotten that Harry and the others would eventually have to take their O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams x..x This part, IMO, can't really be a spoiler, b/c it was mentioned before in the other books. You kind of just forget that Harry& the group have to start worrying about these soon...
The worst part is.. it's just like the SAT. You have to wait until the summer to get your results.. meaning...
You won't find out how anything went until the next book!!
I'd love to say more on the topic, but I don't want to give spoilers >..<
END OF POSSIBLE SPOILER>>
That said... Fred and George, IMO, are the real heroes of Book 5 :D