The goal I set for myself this year is to read at least one novel every month I’m not writing. A few days ago, I read the first Harry Potter book – The Philosopher’s Stone. I actually finished the book within 12 hours of starting it, which I’ve never done before. I decided that I might as well read the second book a couple days later.
For those of you who have recently started following this blog, don’t expect this kind of post to be too regular. I have never read more than 2 novels in one month, and while I might read a third this month, it won’t be for a few weeks. I’m generally more into comics than novels. Also, I probably won’t get to book 3 until next year, or at least December since I have other books to get to first. With all that said, it’s time to talk about Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Here are my thoughts, both as a reader and a writer.
As with the first book, I’ve never read it before yet I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed it. The first movie, while in some ways mediocre, took almost everything from the book and adapted it. The movie only missed out on a handful of minor things, like a few of the ghosts (most notably Peeves), the second Quidditch game and the finer details on how the school operated. This book on the other hand has a lot of information the movie lacked, and the gap between the mediums is already becoming far more apparent. There’s a death day party with one of the ghosts, explaining why Harry’s tight circle of friends weren’t with the rest of the students during one of the Basilisk attacks. There’s more detail on the consequences on Hermione grabbing cat hair for the Polyjuice Potion, and a more detailed ending. It digs deeper into how Tom Riddle’s diary works and how it affected Ginny Weasley. It also delves more into politics than I believe the movies ever did. It certainly explored Mr. Weasley’s position in the Ministry of Magic more than the movie series did.
Also like the first book, this is very well written. J.K. Rowling displayed a great sense of wit in the first book, and this book uses it more. It has more subtlety than the first book, especially regarding the mystery behind the story and the characterization of some of the minor characters. It respects childrens’ intelligence without being too complicated for the target age group. If I have one minor complaint, it’s that there’s a lot of exposition in the first chapter to help people get caught up on the background detail. It makes the first chapter read a bit slow if you read it immediately after the first book, and much of the information could have been spread out a bit later chapters. It would be hard to get a book published if too much exposition is weaved into the first few chapters these days. That said, it intermixes the exposition with Harry’s antics at the Dursley’s, which helps. And once the book gets going, the pacing is close to perfect.
Again as a writer, I doubt this will influence my style that much. While I usually also write in third person, I use a lot more internal thoughts than J.K. Rowling has so far. My writing style is a bit more direct in its perspectives that way. And while it’s impressive how much Rowling planned ahead, that’s something I’m also doing. Like her, I knew how I planned to end my series before I started writing it, even if the number of planned books has grown from 3 to 12. That’s not to say I’m as good as she is, I’m just saying I like to plan ahead.
The first book was better than the movie in almost every way, and it’s debatable which of the first two movies is better. The second book on the other hand is clearly better than the first. It’s a bit darker, yet not to the point of being excessive for kids. The story is more focused, but still has room to expand the Harry Potter universe in interesting ways. This really makes me look forward to whenever I’ll read book 3, because the third movie is probably my 2nd favourite of the movies and if the first two books are any indication, the movie will be even better. But before I touch that, I’ll be reading Magic Bleeds (book 4 in the Kate Daniels series), the Marvel Civil War novelization and probably After the Dragon Raid (the sequel to Dragon Whisperer, which is written by someone I personally know).