Wednesday, July 8, 2015

“Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive.”

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By the time Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets arrived on the scene in 1998, the formerly unsure readers were ready.  The book skyrocketed to the top spot in bestsellers in both the UK and the USA; Rowling became the first author to win the British Book Awards Best Children's Book of the Year two years in a row (Philosopher's Stone winning her first award); and Harry Potter fever was officially here to stay.  Movie rumors were being confirmed and, arguably the sign of a great book, people were challenging the series, due to witchcraft.  However, no amount of protests could slow the rampant Harry Potter craze.

The beginning of Chamber of Secrets finds Harry miserable and lonely with his Muggle relations.  A series of mishaps later (a flying car! a mysterious elf! a tree that fights back!), Harry, along with his friends, are back off to Hogwarts.  They endure tougher classes, dive deeper into the history of Hogwarts, and once again are thrust into a battle of good and evil.  The reader is introduced to everyday magic; the Weasley home alone is enough to make you wave that pencil around JUST ONE MORE TIME to make sure you're not magical, to make sure you cannot hightail it to the magic world. The conflict between the good and the bad that was only touched upon in the first book is more widely revealed.  The reader is left at the end of the first book to believe that Voldemort is a thing of the past, but Chamber reveals that idea to be misguided.

When I first read this book, I did not like it.  It was structured almost exactly the same as the first book and the action in it seemed almost forced and too convenient to make sense.  Overall, it is the weakest book in the series.  These flaws still ring true, in my opinion.  However, once a reader has read the entire series, Chamber can be much more appreciated.  Chamber introduces us to a facet of the overarching story that is absolutely crucial for the series; however, the reader cannot possibly know that by the end of this book.  It is not until book 6 that the ah-ha moment arrives, which will send you diving for your copy of Chamber to dust up on the past.  Chamber is that book in a series which is critical; it drives the plot along and begins the slow process of delving into the more foreboding side of magic.  Chamber first introduces the darker elements of the series, which becomes darker and darker as it progresses.

The Heir of Slytherin, Chapter 17 of Chamber
One of perhaps the best thematic elements in the series stems from this book.  The topic of magical racism and elitism arise with the clashes between the different groups of people and creatures in the magical world.  The very real debate of the pure-blooded magical folk and the 'Mudblood' folk (those with Muggle blood) is introduced and quickly elevated to a serious problem.  The blood status is a wonderful parallel to our world and can be related to by readers.  Rowling uses blood status as a crux between the good side and the bad.

After all is said and done, we could not have a Harry Potter series with Chamber.  It is slow going at times and very cookie cutter style wise.  However, the information that is given throughout the book plays into the series so much that it is hard to not reread it.  We are introduced to characters that will be incredibly important later on.  We are also treated to more magic than in the previous book.  The descriptions are more interesting and the ideas are wonderful.  The dialogue is mediocre... but what else could we expect from 12 year old wizards and witches?  Rowling's best talent in this book is the absolute flawless way she ties the entire novel up in the end. Everything has a place in the end and it makes absolute utter sense, just like this book ties in with the entire series perfectly.

Check back for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite!!!!!)
“And together they walked back through the gateway to the Muggle world.”

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