Sunday, May 10, 2015

RE-READ: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Continuing on with my re-read (and re-watch) of the Harry Potter series I listened to Chamber of Secrets narrated by Jim Dale.   The thing I am continually surprised at is the timing of when things happen and when certain characters are introduced.  In my brain the series has definitely melded into one long and complete story which like my own life is all jumbled up in my brain ;0).  While the book continues to be relatively episodic, like book one, a lot happens that will have relevance in the future of the series.  It is another testament to how well Rowling had things planned out.  The first strong evidence that Harry and Voldemort might be linked appears especially with the intriguing talent of being a Parselmouth.  Which links back to one of the very first scenes in book one.  WHOA J.K.  Just whoa.

If you think it's odd to make so much of the planning that Rowling obviously did, there are many, MANY a book series that seem to be written free hand with no plan at all.  Sometimes that works. Sometimes, not so much.  I'm a fan of plans and appreciate the level of forethought given to the series. 

Here are some of other thoughts about the book:

- Important "people" we "meet" in this book: Moaning Myrtle, Tom Riddle, Ginny Weasley, Gilderoy Lockhart, the Ford Anglia, Aragog, Colin Creavey, Cornelius Fudge, Lucius Malfoy, Dobby, Fawkes.  Some of these folks appear in book one (like Lucius and Ginny) but they really enter the story in this book.

- Harry really starts to embrace his role as "he-who-must-save-everybody".  A year of having friends for the first time AND the general reverence everyone has for him, not to mention his success against Voldemort in book one, has done wonders for his confidence.  He is developing that hero complex which shows up more and more as the series goes on.  I am usually quite irritated by children thinking they know better than the grownups in YA/middle-grade fiction but it doesn't really bother me in the HP books....

- Poor Hermione spends A LOT of time in the infirmary in this one, first with the polyjuice mishap and then with falling victim to the Basilisk.  Even petrified she manages to help Harry and Ron figure out what's going on, though, because she's a boss.

- Rowling ain't no slouch and proceeds to tackle the issues of slavery and prejudice in this book.  Slavery is tackled more fully in a later book but the house elves, Dobby in particular, make their first appearance.  The idea that Witches and Wizards with muggle parents are "mudbloods" and are somehow lesser than those from magical families is introduced.   And is shown to be a completely ridiculous idea by the fact of Hermione's brilliance with magic.  These books seem to effortlessly tackle moral issues and deliver a message without seeming preachy or to be too obviously teaching a lesson.  This is why I don't understand Christian parents who protested these books - the books overall messaging is completely compatible with Christianity - so what if it delivers the message under the guise of a story about a boy wizard?

- To a lesser extent she also addresses the fickleness and artifice of fame with Gilderoy's shenanigans and the fact that everyone quickly turns against Harry when he is suspected of being the Heir of Syltherin.  It is interesting to contemplate especially considering how famous Rowling is now.   

- I LOVE the mechanism of Tom Riddle's diary in this story.  It shows just how devious and smart Voldemort is AND it's just plain cool. 

- Ron's broken wand is also a nice  device throughout the story for a laugh and eventually plays a major part of the plot.  And vomiting slugs - YUCK *does shivery dance of disgust*! Way to go with the gross out humor.  Pair that up with a ghost that lives in a toilet - J.K. knows her audience:0).

- Again I am appreciating Fred and George so much more this second time around.  Their protectiveness of Harry, on the Quidditch field and off, is incredibly endearing not to mention their misguided attempts to cheer up Ginny. 

-  I love Dumbledore's and the series answer to the fact that Harry does share much with Voldemort - he will be different and in fact opposite because of the decisions he makes.  So while the story has a very pre-destined hero type feel, it still emphasizes the important role of free will.  

Favorite Quote:
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” 
 “Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world.”
 Book Stars:  5 out of 5.


This installment is MUCH better than the first movie by leagues and leagues.  The three main actors have significantly improved in their acting and presence on screen which I think goes a long way towards making this a better film.  I was surprised at how much older the actors look but I guess kids do change quite a bit during per-adolescence.  Kenneth Brannagh as Gilderoy Lockhart is the most brilliant bit of casting ever - Ken can smarm it up with the best of them it seems.  Jason Isaacs is also a nice fit for Lucius - he is sufficiently patrician and cold-eyed to sell the character.  Hello to Jason Isaacs!

Movie Stars: 3 out of 5.

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