Friday, September 29, 2017

A Book Review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

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"'There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year.'" 

Harry Potter's summer has included the worst birthday ever, doomy warnings from a house-elf called Dobby, and rescue from the Dursleys by his friend Ron Weasley in a magical flying car! Back at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his second year, Harry hears strange whispers echo through empty corridors - and then the attacks start. Students are found as though turned to stone... Dobby's sinister predictions seem to be coming true.

Series: Harry Potter (Book 2)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Pottermore from J.K. Rowling; Reprint edition (December 8, 2015)
Page Count: 357 pages

After a very long library hold wait, I finally got a hold of this book (heh heh). After enjoying the first book, I was very much looking forward to reading the next one. Now I can finally get all of the Dobby references! As I said in my review of The Sorcerer's Stone I wasn't allowed to read these books or watch the movies when I was a kid, but now I'm an adult and I do what I want! XD

The Plot: The plot started off really interesting with Harry and his terrible birthday (Poor Harry), but I felt like it sagged a bit in the middle as the school semester dragged on. Three-quarters of the way into the book, I really was into it. That's when everything seemed to pick up and all of Rowling's very well done foreshadowing came into play. She is a master at foreshadowing I must say that. The twist at the end was fantastic. I never would have guessed who opened the Chamber of Secrets.

The Characters: Unfortunately, I found Harry, Hermione, and Ron a little less delightful in this book. They resorted to lying and mischief a lot instead of honesty. There was a particular opportunity where Harry could have been honest with Dumbledore but instead, he lied and I was really disappointed in him. But I know they're still kids and they have a lot of room to grow. 

Hagrid has remained my favorite character. I really admire his love for animals and how kind he is to Harry, Hermione, and Ron. If I didn't like Lucious Malfoy before, I definitely don't now. He's terrible. XD Dobby is an interesting little character. I feel like his self-harm is a little disturbing though. I know it's a type of quirk, but it bothered me a little bit. I felt like it wasn't addressed as much as it could have been. 

Lastly, Moaning Myrtle was an interesting character and I love the twist with her, but I felt like her flippant reference to suicide was a bit inappropriate. I know British humor can be a bit courser than American and I'm guessing the reference was meant to be funny since she was already dead, but as someone who's dealt with depression, it felt a little insensitive. 

The Setting: I really love the quirkiness of Hogwarts and I liked knowing more about it in this book. The mandrake roots were very amusing to me and I liked how Rowling took the lore about mandrake roots and applied it to the class. 

Epic Things: Fawkes is a Phoenix and I love phoenixes! It made me happy to see one included in this story. ^ ^

The Theme: I have to try to find a theme that doesn't dip into spoiler territory ... I'll try to be vague. I felt like bullying was a big theme in this book. It's pretty sad how seemingly benign teasing drove one character to get involved into something that character never would have otherwise. 

Content Cautions: This is middle grade so it's very clean. There's, of course, a lot of magic cause this is a book about witches and wizards. There's mentions of murders, but none actually seen. No blood really. Like I said, very clean.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Dropping Clues for A Mystery - Like I mentioned earlier, Rowling did such a great job at the foreshadowing. She left so many tiny clues that seemed insignificant, but then completely tied together at the end. If you want a good example of a well-done mystery then definitely read this book.

How this can be applied to writing: Mysteries can be difficult to pull off. The conclusion has to make sense and without well-planted clues, it can feel like a cop-out or the readers can feel jipped. Careful and intricate foreshadowing is needed for a good mystery to work.

Conclusion: I didn't like this book as much as the first one. It still had its charm and it kept my attention, but it didn't blow me away until near very the end. I still want to read the next books though. Just three stars for this one.

About the Author:

J K (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in the summer of 1965 at Yate General Hospital in England and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent where she went to Wyedean Comprehensive. Jo left Chepstow for Exeter University, where she earned a French and Classics degree, and where her course included one year in Paris. As a postgraduate she moved to London to work at Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King's Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book and began writing the first novel. Jo then moved to northern Portugal, where she taught English as a foreign language. She married in October 1992 and gave birth to her daughter Jessica in 1993. When her marriage ended, she returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, where "Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone" was eventually completed and in 1996 she received an offer of publication. The following summer the world was introduced to Harry Potter."Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in June 1997 and was published as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in America by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in September 1998.The second title in the series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", was published in July 1998 (June 2, 1999 in America) and was No. 1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts for a month after publication. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" was published on 8th July 1999 (September 8, 1999 in America) to worldwide acclaim and massive press attention. 

The book spent four weeks at No.1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts, while "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" simultaneously topped the paperback charts. In the US the first three Harry Potter books occupied the top three spots on numerous adult bestseller lists.The fourth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia 8th July 2000 with a record first print run of 1 million copies for the UK and 3.8 million for the US. It quickly broke all records for the greatest number of books sold on the first weekend of publication. The fifth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia on 21st June 2003. Published in paperback on 10th July 2004, it is the longest in the series - 766 pages - and broke the records set by "Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire" as the fastest selling book in history. The sixth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", was published in the UK, US and other English-speaking countries on 16th July 2005 and also achieved record sales.The seventh and final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," was published in the UK, US and other English speaking countries on 21st July 2007. The book is the fastest selling book in the UK and USA and sales have contributed to breaking the 375 million copies mark worldwide.J K Rowling has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry's school books within the novels. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "Quidditch Through The Ages" were published by Bloomsbury Children's Books and Scholastic in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief. The Harry Potter books have sold 400 million copies worldwide. They are distributed in over 200 territories and are translated into 67 languages. Find her on her website and Twitter!

Other Books by this Author I've Reviewed:
A Book Review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

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