Okay. So, you know how sometimes you read a book that is beloved by almost everyone on the planet, but you’re not really as into it as everyone else because you have absolutely no nostalgia attached to the book itself or the author, but it’s also been so long since you read it that you can’t really put into justifiable words why you thought it just wasn’t that awesome, and you’re kind of afraid all the raging fans will jump down your throat but you’ve got no defense because of the aforementioned long-ago reading of said book?
That’s basically where I am with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
I absolutely can’t wait to be done writing reviews for books I finished almost two (!) years ago because I feel kind of like an idiot for how few notes I took and also for waiting so long to type up how I felt about these books. The Harry Potter series is one where I know I’m in the minority (like…way, way down there), but I don’t have much I can defend my opinion with because, like I mentioned, I made the amateur decision to take no notes.
So here is a short and simple review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Fortunately, I know I felt very similar to it as I did to Philosopher’s Stone in most regards. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it just didn’t stick with me. My complaint with Rowling’s writing style in these early books is that they’re far too immature, and they focus more on action-action-action than any thought process or reflection in the characters. This book was even slower than Philosopher’s Stone in reaching a climax, so I was pretty bored by the time we got anywhere exciting.
One of my favorite parts of the first book was the world-building, but that took a backseat to everything else in the sequel. There wasn’t the same draw into the wizarding world because we already knew it existed, so this book lost a lot of sparkle for me. In addition, I felt like there was an increase in annoying characters and a decrease in the ones I enjoyed—Hermione wasn’t around for a good chunk of the book, but I really sometimes cannot stand Ron or Ginny. They are easily two of my least favorite characters in the series so far, and this book focused in large part on them (either because Ron was always with Harry or because Ginny was involved in a large part of the conflict).
Overall: Definitely not my favorite Harry Potter novel, and unfortunately, I’ve already read Prisoner of Askaban prior to writing this review, and I know I enjoy that one even less than I did this one. However, I’m certainly not giving up on Harry Potter this time around; I’m determined to see this series through to the end at least once, and hopefully fans will forgive me since I’m reading these books for this first time with no childhood nostalgia.
Jim Dale is really a phenomenal narrator. In addition to having a gazillion voices to remember how to portray, he makes each of them memorable and constantly evolving along with the character's story arc. The Harry we see (and listen to) here - aged 14, with the beginnings of adolescent fears and insecurities - is not the naive 11-year-old of the first book. The narration makes that clear: Harry sounds older, more jaded and - by the end of the novel - frustrated with how people perceive him. Voldemort, too, experiences a shift in tone, gaining in substance as his own body becomes stronger and more independent.
As with the previous novels, I'm catching details that I now know will become important later on in the series. This is, along with the sheer pleasure of it, a great motivator for revisiting the series. It probably won't be the last re-read/re-listen either. On to the next book!
I will keep this brief.
There was little I liked about this book. The little there was were the three young characters Albus, Scorpius, and Rose. I loved that they were not cast as repeats of their parents and that their background did not determine their character or actions, which, I guess, it the main message of the book/play.
That was it.
Other than this....oh, dear.
The story is like a Greatest Hits compilation of all the best loved or most famous parts of the HP series that is thrown into a mix with Back to the Future.
None of the characters from the original books were anything like they should be.