Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I saw the movie first in 2002, which I later viewed as a mistake, as I felt a bit unprepared. I later read the book and preferred it, and then vowed to always read the book first for future movies, which I did.
I own a first edition US hardcover and have read it. I've also listened to the Stephen Fry audio book recording.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The new characters (Colin Creevey, Dobby, Lockhart) are quite fun.
- Hogwarts is still very exciting and wonderful.
- The Chamber of Secrets and Slytherin's heir are nice mysteries that slowly get solved as time goes on, and it keeps you guessing.
- The idea of students not being allowed to use magic outside of school doesn't make any sense. How can they study, do homework, or even keep their skills up during the summer or on holidays? It's like telling students not to use math on their summer vacation! And what's with the Ministry blaming Harry for using magic when he didn't? Do the have the ability to detect when magic is used anywhere in the world at any time? Or, perhaps at any house where wizards live? But since they can't tell the difference between a house elf's magic and a student's magic, surely they can't tell the difference between an adult and child, so this surveillance would only be useful for houses where only underage magic users live with muggle parents, which means it's completely unfair.
- The wizarding world uses a lot of bigoted terms: pure-blood, half-blood, muggle, squib, mud-blood, etc. and most people seem to be okay with the bigotry.
- Parseltongue is described as being extremely rare, but in a world where people can use magic to do pretty much anything they want, why would it be rare?
- The staff's inability to find the Chamber of Secrets for so long, even after it has been known to exist, is unbelievable considering how much divination the professors would have done. Was Tom Riddle such a wunderkind that he could foil them all? And, even if they couldn't find it, why didn't they bring in a team of investigative experts?
- The victims of the attacks are incredibly lucky every time. There are several attacks, nobody ever looks directly at the monster and Harry is there to see most of them and then immediately discovered by other people.
- The additional details about the ghosts and Nearly-Headless Nick's Death Day party are interesting and help with world-building, but they weren't important to the story.
- Quidditch is even less feasible in this book. Apparently, the referees don't notice when a bludger has gone rouge and focuses on a single player over and over again. Also, Rowling reinforces the idea that you can a serious advantage over your opponents can be bought.
- Why do you need a polyjuice potion when transfiguration spells can morph anything into anything else?
- The showdown between Harry and Tom seems to take forever while all his plans are slowly revealed.
- In general, there is very little internal consistency in the book. Glaring plot holes abound.
- The fact that school remains open while a dangerous unknown monster is roaming the halls with the ability to kill people is entirely unbelievable.