Friday, November 8, 2013

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

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the Harry Potter series.  Viewed as the best stand alone mystery in the entire saga, Chamber of Secrets follows Harry at his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  During Harry's summer holidays, a house-elf named Dobby comes to warn him not to go back to school because terrible things are apparently going to occur.  Harry ignores Dobby's wishes and goes back to school anyway where students are soon attacked by a mysterious culprit.  Someone is going around the school and petrifying the students, turning them to unmovable beings.  Harry is determined to solve this mystery before someone is killed.
Before I formally begin this review, allow me to apologize for my long absence from this blog.  Between work, Harry Potter book group, reading and NaNoWriMo, I have been super busy. 
Now, allow me to give you a bit of my personal history with this book.  Chamber of Secrets is the first Harry Potter book I ever bought.  Before buying it, I viewed Harry Potter as a stupid book series and had no interest in reading it.  My love of books got the better of me though when I was in a Toys-R-Us and there was a Harry Potter book section.  Since they did not have the first book in paperback (I did not like hardcover as a kid), my parents bought me the second book in paperback which I still own today.  I do not have many strong memories of reading the book though I do remember looking through it, after I bought it, in my front yard during a summer evening and I also remember bringing it to school with me and showing my friends that I was on Ch.3, The Burrow.
The second book of the Harry Potter series does not disappoint.  While the writing is pretty much on
the same scale as the first book, the reader gets a bit more insight into Harry's dislike of fame and Harry's search for identity.  The mystery in the book is indeed the best of all the book's in my opinion...besides the overall mystery that consists throughout the series.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione must search for clues and ultimately find them through rule breaking, being in the right place at the right time, and each others natural abilities and talents.  Another thing that sets this book apart from it's siblings is that it is arguably the most comical - mainly because of the character, Professor Lockhart.  Lockhart's silly and conceited mannerisms are nothing short of hilarious and add a very dry humor to the serious tone of the book.  This book also contains my all time favorite quote from the series, as you can see on your right, said by one of my favorite characters, Albus Dumbledore.  "It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities."  One of the reasons I love these books is that they not only teach me but they confront me and force me to think about my own life and choices.  Of course, many books do the same thing but I believe it was Harry Potter that first got me thinking this particular way about literature.
Chamber of Secrets is a great sequel to Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone and is indeed better than the first though not the best in the series.  As you will notice when I review the later books, I believe they get better and better as Harry ages.  This book still fits as a children's book though I think the humor will go over children's heads and the dark material will cause nightmares.  The mystery is a so-good-you-can't-put-the-book-down mystery and Rowling does an excellent job of supplying the reader with enough clues and yet still surprise us by the end.  As expected, I will give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

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