Throwback Thursday Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Series: Harry Potter (# 2)
Release Date: June 2, 1999
Publisher:  Scholastic
Pages: 352
Source:  Purchased by the reviewer

The Dursleys were so mean that 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 Lockheart, 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?

 

Review: I’m just going to come out and say it. This is by far my least favorite book in the Harry Potter series. I’ve read or listened to the book numerous times only because it’s hard to do my annual read through of the series without including this title.

Where book one was all about setting up Harry’s world, book two is about exploring the world. The reader learns more about the past and how events that happened 50 years prior shaped the future.  And yes, events that occur in this book do play a part in future books.  So, I cannot recommend skipping this book.

Over the years I’ve tried to place why exactly I don’t connect with this book like I do with the rest of the series.  I’ve never been quite been able to place my finger on it.  I think some of it may be to the just the level of writing at this point in the series.   The book is still very much a children’s book and it lacks a lot of the complexities that I enjoy in my stories (and are seen later in the series).

But I think even more of the reason are the characters.  It just seemed that this book had an overabundance of odd-ball characters and I think I tend to spend more time being irritated by the characters rather than enjoying the story.  There’s the vain, idiotic Lockheart.  I cringed every time he appeared in the story.  The there was the depressing Moaning Myrtle.  And as much as I hate to include him, since I enjoy him more in later books, the meddling Dobby.  This trio of characters just pulled the story down for me and made it hard to enjoy the story.

The plot was so-so, the secondary characters on the annoying side.  The only saving grace really is the advancement of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they continue to grow both personally and in their magic.  As I said earlier, this is a must read if you’re working through the series.  However, I don’t recommend it as a starting point or as a stand alone read.