“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
It's not as easy to review such a well-loved and received series. The base story is already familiar to me since I've seen the movies. While the first followed the movie plot line closely, I noticed little scenes and extras in this book that didn't make their transfer to film. As before, Harry starts in the house of horrors, aka the Dursley residence, where they treat the kid so poorly I'm surprised he doesn't lose it and become an evil wizard himself. I can totally understand his desire to go to Hogwarts and escape that household, as morbidly amusing as it is (and it DOES make a good opening to these novels).
Hogwarts was already fleshed out fully in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone', but the charm and magic of the series came further alive in this second installment. It seems that Rowland has become more comfortable with writing itself, something that's hard for me to put a finger on exactly, but it's felt all the same. This book just read better, the previous mild cheese coating dusted away, leaving a fun joy behind. It's not all happiness and games, however; what good story would be? There's a darkness lurking around the corner and a mystery to solve.
First, the professor Gilderoy Lockheart. The new Dark Arts teacher is introduced to this series, bringing numerous hilarious scenes that worked perfectly. What fun it is to follow the three kids through their classes - the clueless and boastful professor is a contrast to the experiences in the classroom of the slithering Snape who seems to have it against the kids. Hogwarts itself has such a strong presence in the novels - from the teachers, the classes, the studied subjects, Dumbledore, Hagrid and his cottage of tea and bizarre animals, that creepy Forbidden Forest with giant critters that nightmares are made of....and now let's throw in secrets passages and riddles and secret diaries. If that doesn't make a workable magical concoction, then I don't know what does.
Since I'd experienced the story celluloid style, it held little surprise. I'm sure if I were naive going in, I'd have been surprised at the twist with the riddle for Tom Riddle, the discovery of the creature waiting in the bowels of the school, and the small twists that came about, but it was still a joy to experience in written form even if I knew the waiting answers. Pacing is kept up strong - you'd think it may be dull to spend so much time in a classroom, but not at all, for it unfolds naturally, applying in various ways to not only the main story of the Chamber, but to small details of the characters lives that will continue enriching the series.
Harry is a wonderful protagonist - he's reasonable and decent but still a typical type of wizard kid willing to break small rules all for a spot of fun or dire circumstances. Ron is humorous without meaning to be, that unfortunate type who has bad luck and circumstance but shines with their general personality, and of course Hermione is a great confidante and friend you like to have around, especially when you aren't sure of the right curse to muster or potion to mix.
Definitely recommended, hard to put down, I enjoyed this one more than the first. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone wasn't bad, but something felt awkward to me, kind of like the beginning of one those odd school moments where teachers are trying to get kids to learn lame square dancing and then sectioning the kids into gender to dance together. I'm happy to say that awkwardness isn't present in Chamber of Secrets, and the heart of the series has started beating harder - it's not possible for me not to continue this series now. Let the magic continue!
“Of all the trees we could've hit, we had to get one that hits back.”
“When in doubt, go to the library.”
Check out the full list of Harry Potter Featured Posts for Harry Potter Week
- Book Reviews: The Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
- Book-To-Film Comparison: The Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
- Site Features: Mailbox Monday, Cover Crush, Tune-in Tuesday, Universal Studios Trip
- Themed Posts: RIP Alan Rickman, Philosophers Versus Sorcerers, Magical Quotes