Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

My second post in one day concerning the Harry Potter books.  The first several books are fairly short, and as I’m still looking for a full time job, I have plenty of time to read.  The fact that they’re young adult books also makes them very easy to read.  I started the first book yesterday and finished it this morning, then started the second book this afternoon (don’t worry, I’ll take a short break before I start the third book tomorrow).  On with the review

Book Stats

341 pages

Fantasy

2nd book in the series (Sequel to HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

Characters

Our beloved trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione serve as the stars in this book as well, and their personalities translate well from the first book to this one.  I went into their overall personalities in the review for the first book, so I won’t go into it again here.  The three main characters are all more confident in their magical abilities in this book, and they’re still very well written.  Draco Malfoy, who was in the first book, is shown to be more of a thorn in Harry’s side in this book, and the way he’s written it makes it very easy for you to dislike him, which is pretty much why he’s in the book.

Setting

My thoughts about the setting in this book are the same as for the first book.  It’s an interesting setting, but Rowling doesn’t dwell on it.  She describes what she needs to describe but otherwise leaves it up to your imagination.  The world has enough concrete details to create a believable setting but it doesn’t drown you in unneeded details.

Plot

Fall has come again and it’s time for Harry to start his classes.  Once we get to Hogwarts again there are several things going on at once.  Rowling does a wonderful job of giving the students at Hogwarts real-life problems above and beyond the magical setting.  Having a bully picking on you (Malfoy) and dealing with problems with middle-school crushes give a deal of weight to the story to make the characters seem very real.  The main plot of the story deals with several students throughout the school becoming paralyzed by a mysterious curse and of course Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trying to find the cause of it.

Enjoyment

As I said in my review of the first book, the characters are wonderfully done and are the reason why the book resonates so well with readers.  The mixture of real-world problems within a magical setting is done very well.  The plot moves very quickly in large part because the book isn’t bogged down with an excess of setting detail.  The very end of this book also has a wonderful moment for a minor character that you have to smile when reading.  My only complaint about the book, and it’s very minor, is that Harry starts out with the Dursley’s again, and the end of the book makes it seem as though he is going back to them once again for the beginning of the next book.  As I said, it’s a minor complaint, but Harry has already found found ways to deal with his adoptive family, I don’t want to see him go through this for every book.  All in all however, the book is a quick and wonderful read.

Overall Grade

Very well done and a good progression from book one to book two.  Eagerly looking forward to starting book three tomorrow.

9/10

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The first Harry Potter book, and oddly enough the first book book review for a book that I’m rereading.  I read the first four Harry Potter books several years ago, and I really enjoyed them.  I meant to finish the series, but just kept putting it off in favor of reading other books, until I started reading it now.  Everyone already knows pretty much everything about J.K. Rowling’s series, but I’m going to go through with my normal review structure anyway.

Book Stats

309 pages

Fantasy

First book in the series

Characters

The main character is obviously Harry Potter, a young man who on his 11th birthday discovers that his parents were wizards and that he is invited to Hogwarts school to study magic.  In this book Harry isn’t the deepest character, but he’s also 11.  Working with Harry throughout the book are his friends Ron and Hermione.  Ron is the youngest brother in a family of wizards, and his character works very well to go along with Harry as Ron is a little more worrisome than Harry.  Hermione also works wonderfully with Harry and Ron because her personality compliments Harry and Ron very well.  Hermione is by far the most concerned with studying and works the hardest of all the characters.  While Ron is worried about the consequences because he is personally afraid, Hermione tends to look towards the realistic consequences that could happen because of their actions.  The side characters also work well and show distinct personalities even in the brief scenes they are in.

Setting

Ah Hogwarts, an interesting setting for a book.  The magical school is works well although the book doesn’t really have all that much setting detail.  You’re given descriptions about the setting, and enough visual cues to get an idea of the setting, but the book is more about the characters and how they react to the situations they find themselves in.

Plot

The plot has to deal with Harry learning about being a wizard and trying to learn about what happened to his parents.  While he is at Hogwarts, he learns about a mysterious item that has recently been transferred to the school for safekeeping.  While going through classes and playing Quidditch harry and his friends also spend time exploring Hogwarts and enjoying learning magic.  One of the most well done parts of the book is the unfolding of the mystery of who is really behind everything going on behind the scenes.  Very well done.

Enjoyment

The setting is interesting while not being in the forefront, which is actually a high point in the book.  It’s interesting to see how it’s done.  The plot is also well done and it moves at a steady pace throughout the book.  The high point of the book is really the characters though.  All three of the main characters are well written and have distinct personalities that fit very well together.  I think the fact that the characters are interesting is the main reason that these books have been so successful and why I believe they will stand up over time.

Overall Grade

Even having read the book before, and being well older than the target audience, I still enjoyed it greatly and look forward to the rest of the series.

9/10