As I said when I reviewed the first book – since the Harry Potter books and movies are so popular, I’m not going to be particularly cautious about spoilers. I’ll try not to give the whole ending away or anything, but I’m not going to tip-toe around either.
I only read this book once or twice years ago, but I’ve seen the movie a bajillion times, so I was actually not looking forward to re-reading this. I almost skipped it, but I’m glad I didn’t. It still seemed fresh and exciting (and I almost forgot about Nearly Headless Nick’s Death Day party!)
In this book, the 2nd in the series, Harry Potter is eagerly awaiting his return to Hogwarts in the fall. Things start to look dim though right from the beginning, when a house-elf named Dobby shows up at the Dursleys’ to ask him not to go back to Hogwarts – that he’ll be in great danger there. Harry ignores him and eventually makes it to Hogwarts, but Dobby was right. He’s in danger.
The legendary Chamber of Secrets has been opened, and something has been unleashed upon the school that’s petrifying the students (literally). Even the teachers don’t know who is behind it, or how to fight it, and worst of all – most of the students suspect it’s Harry Potter himself. Harry has to race to put the pieces of the puzzle together and discover who really is behind the attacks before someone gets seriously hurt. All the while dealing with enchanted cars, hearing strange voices, putting up the with new annoying Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, fitting in Quidditch practice, and maintaining his friendships with Ron and Hermione.
This book is a lot like the first, in that it’s still mainly written as a children’s book. Some important issues come up though – mainly that of the wizard “racism”. Some wizards look down on wizards who come from families that aren’t pure-blooded wizards, or who come from Muggle families with no magical ancestors. A foul term for someone not pure-blood, a “mudblood”, is introduced. We also see hints of some wizards thinking that they are better than other magical creatures, which is evident by the way Dobby’s master family treats him. These are really complex issues presented in a way that children can easily understand and see the injustices in, and later can make the relation between the awful wizarding-world racism to prejudicial issues in the real world. Impressive stuff for a children’s book. Another new issue presented in the book is the introduction of romance – Ginny’s cute little crush on Harry, and one of the Weasley’s secret relationship. Appropriate for the age group, but not overdone.
The only disappointment I feel in this book is that not too much attention is paid to Ron and Hermione. We don’t really learn much new about them, and as characters they don’t grow much from the first book. Luckily, that will change with the third :o)
Sarah Says: 4 stars!