Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter Book 2 of 7)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

I enjoyed this second book in the series better than the first one.  It was still definitely a children’s story, but it had more meat to it and I put a lot more thought into the story as I read it than I had put into the first one.  There were a few different strange things going on, and a variety of people who seemed like they could potentially be responsible, so I had more fun trying to figure out what was going on.  

I also continued to enjoy the characters, aside of course from the ones who were supposed to be annoying or unlikeable.  The characters tend to be a bit black-and-white, maybe.  I’d like to see some characters with a little more gray, but sometimes it’s also fun to be able to root for the “good guys” unreservedly.  

I have a few other random thoughts that I’ll put in spoiler tags.  Some are major spoilers, some are minor, and some probably aren’t spoilers at all, but I wanted to play it safe and these thoughts wouldn’t mean much to anybody who hasn’t read the books anyway.  

I was annoyed that intelligent Hermione was so infatuated with Lockhart when he was obviously a self-absorbed idiot.  She of all people should have been able to see right through him.

I was surprised to realize early on in this book that Ginny was only a year younger than Harry and Ron and was old enough to go to Hogwarts in this book.  I can’t remember being told her age in the first book, and I had the impression she was like five or something based on the way she acted.  She continued to act very young in this book, what little we saw of her, and I had trouble buying that she was eleven.  At least, she acted a lot younger than Harry and Ron and Hermione had acted the previous year when they were eleven.  I know kids mature at different levels, and it’s not like I’m personally around a lot of eleven-year-olds, so her behavior might have been perfectly realistic.  It just felt off to me, I guess because I had imagined her as being so much younger in the first book.

As far as who was responsible for what, I guessed totally wrong on just about everything.  I thought Percy was somehow involved in opening the chamber of secrets, although it seemed highly unlikely that he was the heir so I waffled a bit on who else might be involved.  I never remotely suspected Ginny.  I guess after the first book I should have thought to suspect the person who seemed most unlikely to be involved.

With the house elf and his attempts to keep Harry away from the school, even though the Malfoy family seemed like the obvious owners, I figured I was being misdirected.  I decided that the elf surely belonged to Lockhart and Lockhart had ordered him to try to keep Harry away from the school.  Since Lockhart cared so much about fame, I figured he didn’t want Harry at the school where he might overshadow him.  The real answer made a lot more sense, though, tying the plot threads together more neatly.

(show spoiler)