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A Sister’s Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’

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.

harry potter and the chamber of secrets by jk rowling coverKim: 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!

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  • Jennifer June 21, 2013, 7:53 am

    Ha ha, Lockhart. What a tool. 😉

    • Kim June 23, 2013, 8:25 pm

      Oh man, that guy! One of the things I like about rereading the books is how much more extreme all of the characters are than I remembered. Rowling is so good at that stuff.

  • Jenn June 21, 2013, 9:37 am

    I love the de-gnoming scene too…really, any of the scenes at the Burrow are some of my favorites. And it is really amazing to see all the bits and pieces Rowling puts in the first books that add up to this huge epic story at the end. I started Azkaban last night too. 🙂

    • Kim June 23, 2013, 8:26 pm

      The Burrow is such a fun place. I love all the details and little wizard world jokes she puts into that place.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy) June 21, 2013, 10:03 am

    How fun! I think all of the Harry Potter books are melded together in my mind.

    • Kim June 23, 2013, 8:26 pm

      Mine too. I remember the general arcs, but so many of the details are coming back to me in a re-read.

  • Jenny June 21, 2013, 6:52 pm

    Y’all are making me so jealous. Maybe next year I can do this with my sister — or something at least! I would love to do some sort of team reading thing with my sister.

    • Kim June 23, 2013, 8:26 pm

      It’s really fun! I love sister reading projects when we can think of them (and figure out how to make them work).