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

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Fiction

Book Jacket Synopsis: “The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike. And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torment and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart; a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom; and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone – or something – starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one that everyone at Hogwarts most suspects, Harry Potter himself!”

Review: First banned book review in far too long! In fact, it was little over a year ago today that I posted my review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Once again, I held off on my annual rereading of the Harry Potter books in anticipation of the release of the fully illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I was once again amazed by Jim Kay’s illustrations, which do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the story. On a slightly negative note, I did feel like this illustrated version had fewer images than its illustrated predecessor. I hope that as the novels get longer, the page-to-illustration ratio so masterfully executed in Sorcerer’s Stone doesn’t suffer. Illustrations aside, I will never be able to give any Harry Potter book less than five stars, but I will at least admit where Chamber of Secrets falls in my ranking of the series and why. For me, the Harry Potter series goes as follows:

  1. Order of the Phoenix
  2. Deathly Hallows
  3. Sorcerer’s Stone
  4. Prisoner of Azkaban
  5. Half-Blood Prince
  6. Goblet of Fire
  7. Chamber of Secrets

I’m aware that my ranking is a bit unorthodox. For example, few would agree with my top placement of Order of the Phoenix and low ranking for Goblet of Fire. I do have my reasons, which will likely come to light in future reviews of the series, but for now I want to explain why Chamber of Secrets is my “least” favorite book. There are many, many things I love about Chamber of Secrets: Dobby, Fawkes, Dumbledore, the Burrow, the chamber itself. But I think the other novels surpass it in my mind and heart due to a reduced level of character development. In Chamber of Secrets, we’re still primarily focused on the Harry/Ron/Hermione trio. But if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the three main characters don’t actually evolve much between books one and two. In contrast, later novels not only benefit from the main characters evolving, but also introduce new, fantastic characters who (at least partly) steal the show (I’m looking at you, Luna and Lupin).

Reason for Ban/Challenge: As I noted in my review of Sorcerer’s Stone, the Harry Potter series has largely faced opposition from religious groups that believe the novels glorify witchcraft. Arguments that the series is too dark overall and that the novels set bad examples for children have been made as well. These arguments are rarely successful, however, as many governing organizations that control the books found in school libraries appreciate the creativity and imagination promoted by the Harry Potter series.




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