Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Book Review

Disclaimers: I review works of art like literature as independent of their creators. Just because I support the Harry Potter books does not mean I support J.K. Rowling’s actions, statements, and/or views. This review contains my opinions. You don’t have to agree with me.

This post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

I first read this book when I was 9. I reread it when I was 11 and 21. I’ll start by discussing the things I noticed every time. Then I’ll share what I noticed during my reread as an adult. I’ll wrap up by pointing out plot holes and other unanswered questions. This series is rather famous for having interesting plot holes. I point them out jokingly. Younger me didn’t notice them, and since this series is geared toward a younger audience, I think that’s all that matters. Adult me needs to just enjoy the story and stop asking so many questions. I also realize some of the plot holes are addressed on Pottermore, in the author’s tweets, etc., but these are things that need to be included in the books, not supplemental material.

I love the characters. In this book, Snape and the Weasley twins are my favorites. I didn’t like Snape as a kid, but I do now. I also like Peeves. I enjoy watching Harry taunt Dudley in this book. He’s finally getting revenge on Dudley for being a bully for 11 years. I like the interesting beginning to Harry and Ginny’s relationship. Ginny’s so awkward around Harry. I love to hate Lockhart. He’s such a terrible person. I particularly like how his fate at the end ties into his characterization. One of my favorite things about the characters in this book is their agency.

I love the worldbuilding. The Whomping Willow is great, especially when it has to wear slings after the car crashes into it.

The foreshadowing is well done. I particularly like the vanishing cabinet foreshadowing. I love how well-plotted the story is. It’s also fast paced. We’re not bogged down with boring details. We get lots of funny moments, too. It’s interesting how all the petrification victims can be tied to Harry. Is he being intentionally framed, or is it a coincidence?

Adult me doesn’t like the writing style. Things like exclamation points, dashes, all caps, italics, and adverbs are way overused. I don’t like the style of the dialogue tags. I also wish there were more character thoughts and emotions. The main characters, especially Harry, feel really distant. There are some inconsistencies with the trace and summer homework.

Now for the plot hole and unanswered questions bonus round.

Why doesn’t Harry lie and tell Dobby he won’t go to Hogwarts and then go to Hogwarts anyway? I feel like that would have solved a lot of problems.

During the scene with Dobby, Harry jumps down the stairs when there are six stairs left and lands silently. Is that possible? I make noise when I jump one stair, but then again, I managed to tear both of the reconstructed ligaments in my ankle when I jumped one stair, so I have problems.

Shortly after this scene when Harry escapes, the Dursleys freak out and try to stop him. Why do they care if Harry runs away? They don’t want him. They should be happy he’s leaving.

Why do Harry and Ron take the car to Hogwarts instead of waiting for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to return? The parents can’t stay stuck on the train platform forever.

Why did Dumbledore hire Lockhart? Once again, I feel like Dumbledore’s not an idiot and therefore knows Lockhart is a fraud.

Why doesn’t the trio use the invisibility cloak to help them find clues regarding the Chamber of Secrets? It’s like it’s been forgotten. If I could sneak around Hogwarts without being seen, I would spend every night exploring.

Why didn’t Madam Hooch notice the rogue bludger and stop the game? Rogue bludgers aren’t a normal part of Quidditch and should be investigated.

Why were Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Colin Creevey all out of bed so late on the night Colin was petrified? At one point the professors have to keep guard at night. When do they sleep if they teach all day and patrol the castle all night?

Why does Tom Riddle’s memory begin without him? He can’t remember something he didn’t live.

If the basilisk, which is huge, is travelling via the pipes, how big are the pipes? How thick are the floors and walls? (This is my favorite plot hole.)

Why did Dobby accompany Lucius to Hogwarts at the end? Does Lucius normally take Dobby on errands?

Bonus questions: Can house elves do laundry? Since they can’t be given clothes, I feel like they can’t. Also, what happens when a spell is done incorrectly? What are the consequences?

Those are my thoughts on this book. What do you think of The Chamber of Secrets? Did you notice any of these plot holes? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments.

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