Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #2)
Published June 2nd, 1999 by Bloomsbury

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects...Harry Potter himself.
'It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.'

Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the series, Harry Potter is now 12, and fresh off his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. Once again he finds himself stuck with the Dursleys, albeit only for the duration of Summer holiday. With the beginning of his second year fast approaching Harry receives an ominous warning. Terrible things are about the happen at Hogwarts and Harry above all else, is in grave danger. Despite this Harry returns to Hogwarts, not without great difficulty; but once he makes it back it soon becomes apparent that all is not well in his beloved school. Someone, or something is attacking students; causing them to become frozen. All the while Harry keeps hearing a strange disembodied voice throughout the castle, and following it always seems to end up with Harry at the wrong place at the wrong time. until he himself is the main suspect in this growing mystery.

Out of all the seven books in the series, Chamber of Secrets has never been a favorite of mine and I've never really been sure why that is. I think the main reason is because it almost reads like Philosopher's Stone, Part 2. The first part tends drags a bit,  some of the novelty from the first book has worn off, but at the same time,  the characters are still so young. In Philosopher's Stone, there is a whole world to build and the reader experiences it for the first time. In CoS, there is no need for as much 'world-building' but the characters don't evolve all that much. I mean what kid really does from age 11 to 12 anyways?!

Despite those minor details, The Chamber of Secrets is still perfection to me,as are all HP books. It's a sheer joy to visit The Burrow and spend quality time with The Weasleys of course ♥  It was fascinating to visit darker parts of Diagon Alley, and of course meeting Mr. Malfoy senior is a key plot point in the series.  Getting some background on the founding figures of Hogwarts was brilliant too and I loved how our golden trio figured out the Chamber of Secrets, despite it being so, well, secret.

 As usual, Dumbledore's 'end of the book' chat with Harry reveals some key information: 

'You can speak Parseltongue, Harry' said Dumbledore calmly, 'because Lord Voldemort- who is the last remaining descendant of Salazar Slytehrin- can speak Parseltongue. Unless I'm much mistaken, he transferred some of his powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I'm sure...'

'Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?' Harry said, thunderstruck. 
'It certainly seems so.'

A simplistic explanation, to be sure but this is a HUGE clue on the upcoming plot development for the whole of the series. Of course, reading it the first time, you don't necessarily pick up on the subtext, that's why rereading this series is so rewarding.  
THAT's why I re-read Harry Potter and why I will be re-reading the series long into old age. J.K. Rowling had it all figured out, all planned out down to the most minor; and sometimes seemingly pointless details. And as I've mentioned, I absolutely love Harry Potter the character, and that holds true in Chamber of Secrets. He's relatable, courageous and has a bigger heart than most people in real life do.


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