My sister, Jenny, and I are spending the summer revisiting the Harry Potter series, some of the most read and most anticipated books of our childhood. You can catch up with our thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (we read the British version) or just jump in with the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Kim: I was surprised, again, at how much I forgot about this book. I knew that the villain was going to be a version of Voldemort through the diary and that Fawkes and the Sorting Hat would help Harry defeat the big snake. But I forgot entirely about framing Hagrid (and Hagrid’s disgrace at Hogwarts), a lot of the goofiness of Gilderoy Lockhart, and how devious Lucius Malfoy was… that dude is evil to the core. What were your first impressions of this book?
Jenny: I actually remember this one pretty well. The only thing that was not how I remembered it was when Hermione was turned into that cat [when taking the Polyjuice Potion]. I thought she turned back I forgot she had to go to the hospital. I thought the story in this one was more dynamic because the relationships were already developed. I enjoyed it more than book one. What was your favorite scene or chapter and why?
Kim: There are a lot of really good ones in this book. I loved the section in the beginning where Harry and the Weasleys are de-gnoming (I think) the garden at the Burrow. The bit battle in the Chamber of Secrets is also awesome, but I almost liked the scene afterwards in Dumbledore’s office better — it’s nice to see when Harry realizes he doesn’t have to carry everything himself and he can trust some adults, and how some of the bigger stories are going to develop.
Speaking of bigger stories, how do you think this one fits into the whole series and mythology? I read once that Rowling planted clues in some of the early books about how the story was going to play out, so I was reading this book looking for them. And I found one about Horcruxes that was exciting!
Jenny: Yeah I caught onto that clue too. I think that they will get more and more obvious and more clear as we move forward in the books. I also believe that you can see clues about other characters as well and how their roles will play out moving forward. We are giving hints and clues about character traits of people that will prove vital to the storytelling moving forward. You see how evil Lucius Malfoy is, so his being a Death Eater is less shocking. You are seeing how the friends Harry is making would risk their lives for him and to protect him even before he has a huge role to play, like with the Weasley’s in the Quidditch match.
One of the characters that I find will change the most in the books to come is Ginny. She is shy, scared, lonely, and awkward in this book. By the end of the series she is brave, smart, and powerful in her own right. Neville goes through a similar character arc. Are their any other characters that you see as being portrayed in different ways between books. Either getting better or worse?
Kim: Well, Sirius Black is an obvious one (especially since we’re starting Prisoner of Azkaban next). He’s one of the more complicated characters, to me, since he starts out as a villain, then a father figure, and eventually more of a friend (sort of evil, good, mixed). I agree with you about Ginny though, she really evolves during the series to become a competent, powerful wizard in her own right. It’s kind of interesting that neither of us has thought to mention Ron or Hermoine though — I’ll be curious to watch the way they change in the coming books.
And with that, we’re off to Azkaban! We’re spreading this book out over a couple of weeks, so we won’t have a post on it until sometime in July, I expect. Stay tuned!