Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Why did I pick it up?

Because it continues from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and I'll be damned if I ever start a series and don't finish it. I started this one on January 26th and finished it on January 28th using mainly breaks at the new job and an hour or so after work. It took about three or four hours all together.

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

 Again, this is a continuation. When we left Harry in Philosopher's Stone he was heading back home for the summer with his foster muggle parents who hate him. We pick up while he's still there and we've found out the muggles are afraid of him and rightfully so. Harry now knows how to do magic, something they don't believe in and fear.

The fear does cause Dudley, Harry's biggest bully, to go a little easier on him since Dudley's afraid Harry will do something. A house elf (Dobby) appears to tell Harry not to go back to Hogwarts which of course Harry refuses to do. Dobby accidently reveals Harry's not allowed to do magic in the muggle world so the Dudley's lock him in a room, start starving him and his owl, and make life miserable again for him. Fortunately Ron and his twin brothers Fred and George break him out of his house with their father's illegal flying car and take him back home with them.

Ten points for saving Harry from being starved and treated miserably. Minus 100 a piece for stealing a car that's illegal in the first place. This is made especially worse since the Weasley's were about to go see what was wrong with Harry and not responding to Ron's letters the NEXT DAY.

Harry enjoys living with the Weasley's, goes to buy his second year gear and ends up in the wrong place at the right time. The common tread in this book is that Harry (and Ron or Hermione) always seem to end up in the wrong place at the right time. They stumble (literally) upon things they shouldn't know like with Harry seeing Draco's father selling off some important items. There's also the time they overhear of Dumbledore's forced sabbatical and Hagrid being taken away under suspicion of opening the Chamber of Secrets.

And when they go to spy on Draco thinking he's the one who opened the chamber they find out about Draco's dads secret stash of stuff as well as Ron's dad being under inquiry for the whole magic-ing a car thing. Yes, the car the twins flew to save Harry. The same car Harry and Ron use to get to Hogwarts because Dobby prevents Harry from getting through Gate 9 and 3/4s. That incident is what causes Ron's dad to be put under inquiry by the way.

The worst part is, they had an owl and could have easily sent along a message that they couldn't get through the gate instead of you know, stealing an illegal car and using magic in front of muggles thus leaving Ron's parents stranded at the train station with no knowledge of how to get home by muggle ways.

Then there's the whole part about Harry not telling Dumbledore all that's going on (the hissing sounds he's hearing, the suspicions he has about the events going on in Hogwarts, etc.) and just continuing on his merry way in keeping secrets from the person who could help him and would totally understand what's going on.

This is what's annoying me the most about these books. Harry's keeping secrets and breaking HUGE rules but keeps coming out unpunished and relatively unscathed. It's kind of sending a message to kids in "hey, you can lie or break rules so long as you're saving the world." Yes, but to a point. I get the "it's for the greater good "concept and super heroes do it all the time but the amount of times Harry is doing it starts to get a little suspicious.

And then the car saves them from being eaten by spiders, Harry figures out how all this connects, and kills a Basilisk with a sword that appeared out of the Sorting Hat Dumbledore sent to him with Dumbledore's pet phoenix. Really? I mean, yeah send the one bird that can heal Harry from a Basilisk and the one object that can give Harry a magical sword only Gryffindor's can hold...urg.

There's coincidence and then there's...arg. I'm starting to see why these books are meant for people under the age of 12. Don't get me wrong: I still ENJOYED reading the book overall but if I wasn't an over 20-year-old who hadn't read hundreds of fantasy and sci-fi books I would be enjoying it a lot more.

Anyway, Harry saves the day and as in the first book: heads back home with the Dursley's to a horrible summer. Except wait, didn't Tom Riddle show Harry that Harry could have stayed at Hogwarts over the summer? And don't you think the Weasley's would have invited Harry to stay? *headdesk*

OH! The Sorting Hat putting Harry in Gryffindor is mentioned again. This time Dumbledore gives an epic quote that feels kind of wasted considering again, all Harry did was say "Please not Slytherin" and the Sorting Hat was all "Oh, okay." I mean I get Harry convinced the hat because it's the hat's job to put people in the proper house. I just don't see Harry thinking "please not Slytherin" as a convincing argument. And what was up with Lockheart as a character? He was just a device to distract Harry and allow the group to get the book out of the library to make an illegal potion.

Oh and a whole bunch of Hermione being all rule-breaky which isn't a part of her character at all. It's the Harry Effect I guess...

Would I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets again?

Yeah probably. It's a nice, light read that's still entertaining when you're not thinking about the strings tying too neatly. I'm also waiting for someone to die with baited breath. KILL YOUR DARLINGS, ROWLING! KILL THEM ALL! *insert evil laughter* Sorry. I've obviously read too much Song of Ice and Fire.

The Negatives

Besides the aforementioned over-coincidence, lying, breaking rules, etc: not much. So again, to the 1-star reviews.

One person compared Harry Potter to Song of Ice and Fire. Why? Because "read Game of Thrones if you want a real series" Um. First: It's Song of Ice and Fire, not Game of Thrones. GoT is the TELEVISION SHOW. Second: COMPLETELY different intended audience. Like MILES different. So no, a 12 or under should not read SoIF if they want a real series. And the adults don't have to either if they don't want to. It's called personal preference and opinion and *le gasp* some adults out there aren't big readers so couldn't tackle something like SoIF if they buy the CDS to listen to Harry Potter.

Speaking of, apparently the audio books still suck, Pottermore is still crap, and the books are being delivered in horrible condition. I bought my Harry Potter series used so I expect them looking worn. When you're buying new: you expect new. I don't see why this issue hasn't been resolved.

As many reviewers point out: Good guys can lie, break rules, etc and not get punished but when a bad guy lies, breaks rules, etc then he is punished. So hey, as long as the ends justify the means it's all good. Not a good lesson for kids. Rules are rules and anyone who breaks them should be punished in some sense of the word.

The "WITCHCRAFT IS EVIL!" 1-stars were amusing as all Hell. I don't see how it puts down family values since the Weasley Family is all about being a family: standing up for each other, caring about each other, teasing your older/younger siblings, looking after each other, etc. This is one thing Rowling does exceptionally well: the Weasley Family.

Then there's the people saying it's too long. Again, it's a little over 300 pages which is average when it comes to pre-teen fantasy. Yes, I am aware of how wrong that might sound. Mind out of the gutters folks. Anyway, for the reviewer who told people to go read SoIF for a real series: these poor people thinking Harry Potter is long would die.

There are a lot of comparisons to Lord of the Rings and C.S Lewis. I say again: DIFFERENT AUDIENCES. Jeez. Then there's the people who say they don't read fantasy so don't like the book. *headdesk* There are a lot of "recycled the plot from book 1" which is true but again: book meant for people under 10 who are just starting to get heavy into reading so they don't notice these things. I think the adults (including me) reading this series and who have read a lot over the years have to remember this is a book for children, not well-read, avid reading adults.

Final review: 2/5 for a voracious adult, 4.5/5 for a child. Best features: THIS QUOTE "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" from Dumbledore and the interactions of the Weasley family with each other.

Until next time: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments section.

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