Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter enters his second year at Hogwarts with a bang… literally. He crashes into a tree while flying a car to school. The second book in the series has never been my favorite, but I was surprised, upon re-reading it, to discover how many small details foreshadow events in future books. They seem unimportant here, but in retrospect Rowling was clearly setting up the final premise early on.

There are also so many important characters that are introduced in this installment. We meet Dobby and see his eternal loyalty unfold from the first chapters. We meet the entire Weasley family (except the eldest brothers) and visit their home, the Burrow, for the first time. They truly become Harry’s family and so this is an important event. We also see Dumbledore’s office for the first time and his role becomes more prominent.

This is also the book where Voldemort becomes more than just a generic baddie. Until now we knew nothing about his past. Learning about his heritage, childhood and “normal” years makes him an interesting adversary, instead of just a villain. I love Harry’s struggle with the similarities between him and his foe. It adds another great layer to the story.

Rowling has an interesting habit of splitting up the core group at the end of many of the books. In the first one, Ron is separated from Hermione and Harry at the chess game. In the second book, Hermione is debilitated before the Chamber of Secrets sequence. In the third book, Ron is again out of commission before the final section. I never really noticed that before, but it’s an interesting trend. Side note: What happened to Neville? He is barely mentioned at all in this book, which is sad.

A few things I'd forgotten about the second book:

1) This is the first time Harry is really disliked or feared by other students. In future books this happens frequently, but this book marks the first time Harry is rejected by many of the people he knows in the wizarding world.

2) I’d forgotten all about Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party. It provides a chance to meet a few of the house ghosts, which is important in the final books.

3) Fawkes is such a critical character in this book. I’d forgotten how crucial the phoenix’s role is and how important it is that he comes when Harry needs him. It speaks volumes about Harry’s loyalty to Dumbledore at a time when Harry didn’t know him well.

Read for the Harry Potter Challenge hosted here.


Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Your review reminded me how much I love this book. I reread it last year, and intend to reread the other five books in the series before seeing the 2nd part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I was also amazed by how JK Rowling planned everything. Even in the first book, there are tiny details that foreshadow the events in later books. :)

Jillian said...

Well I think you know how much I love this series. I got to say Chamber of Secrets and Order of the Pheonix were my least favorites, but regardless, I still love them. By the way, great idea to put the things you forgot about the books! I always reread these and discover something new almost every single time.

Teacher/Learner said...

I actually liked the 2nd book (very close to the 1st in order of favourites) but then again, I've only read the first 3 books of the series. Can't wait to crack into them again!

Amanda said...

I just finished rereading this too. :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Darlyn - It's been so much fun re-reading the early books for the first time since finishing the series. There's so much foreshadowing!

Jillian - Mine too, definitely. I wanted to tell Harry to stop whining in the 5th book. But, like you, I still love them.

Teacher/Learner - I can't wait to hear what you think of the final 4.

Amanda - You probably read it in french though, which is much more impressive!

Ruth said...

harry potter!! love that you added the british book covers :) i just finished the last book! love them....obviously :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Ruth - Unfortunately, unlike you I don’t have the French/German/Czech covers!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the review, and I do agree that this isn't the best of the series.

I also have a correction; this is not the first time Harry was rejected by his contemporaries -- most of the school hated him near the end of Philosopher's Stone, too, because he lost all those points for Gryffindor.

And I don't understand why people dislike Order of the Phoenix. It, along with Half-Blood Prince, is among my favorite books. Order of the Phoenix is one of the best in the series. The character who I was annoyed with was Hermione, not Harry. I was on Harry's side throughout the book. He was right, and I would have done the same thing. I found that book to be great because of how the school all united against Umbridge -- it was cool.