8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Witchcraft, wizadry and rattling good morality,
This review is from: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) (Paperback)
The second book in the Harry Potter series and Rowling's consistency to date is good. The Chamber of Secrets is remarkably like the Philosopher's Stone in the way that it begins, has a well structured middle and a very exciting end.
Most novels, even those that form part of a series like this one, rarely seem to have the same number of reminders that Potter has. Book two begins with a series of notes about who Harry is and why he's famous, who Ron and Hermione are, and so on. Of course, anyone picking up this book without having read the first one may need such information; but not necessarily. I think the characters establish themselves very well without being introduced in this way.
I have found both books to be very readable and have been impressed by Rowling's use of language. In an age when British kids and adults are being swamped by TEEVEE talk, Rowling has resisted the temptation to use words and phrases like movies, right now, momentarily; and provides us all with well written stories whose language is of a good standard for an English language reader based in the UK! I did notice, however, that Rowling and her editors have a problem with honorary: spelling it as honourary at least twice!
The format of this book is that the characters all assemble at Hogwarts at the start of the academic (is that the right term here?) year, they are introduced as goodies and baddies and teachers (who can also be goodies and baddies) and the plot goes from there. The final analysis in both books is that Harry has to take on a demon and beat it before the book can end; and he must do this almost alone ... read the book to see why I say almost alone! This is good old fashioned good against evil stuff, with good triumphing over evil. I feel that this structure makes a nonsense of the calls for banning Potter from school rooms and libraries: witchcraft and wizadry are merely pegs to hang this story on and whilst they do provide some very light moments, they are not the be all and end all of the plot by any means.
Whilst there are light moments in this book such as when spells and demonstrations of spells go wrong, I think I'm right in saying that there is no outright humour in the book. I was never struck by any of the children or the adults being downright funny: no jokes, no one liners ... experiments that go wrong, figures of fun, but no jokes. I don't think this is a problem, just an observation and will happily stand corrected.
The biggest figure of fun and most damnable teacher because of it has to be Gilderoy Lockhart: the teacher who has written so many books on the subjects of witchcraft and wizadry and who talks a good fight; but when it comes down to it, he's inept and has clearly never done what he claims to have done. Again, not a problem, except that it might cost Harry his life as he marches on to meet the demon that he must try to destroy.
On the lessons for good children (and adults) front, I do find a number of messages, perhaps cunningly hidden, that we can all learn from: Lockhart the braggart is the focus of many lessons; the overcoming of good by evil; and friendship and loyalty are all in evidence in this book, as they were in the Philosopher's Stone.
Perhaps the best message centres around the very secret diary that features both within the story and as a very dramatic part of the end of Harry's triumph. We can put the diary into the context of the internet and imagine a child innocently communicating by e-mail with a paedophile or similar fiend. The child is innocent and the fiend is plotting, cunning and very powerful. Without realising it, the child is swept up by the power of the fiend and may live to rue the day ... until a saviour (Harry) comes along.
I am happy to have read the two books that I have and I recommend them as good reading material for all children and know that many adults are happily ploughing their way through them. Both books have exciting finishes and definitely leave the reader begging for more!