It's the first installment of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the Harry Potter Readalong, hosted by Awesome Alice over at Reading Rambo (note: she doesn't go by that name, but it's how I think of her, so if you don't already follow her blog, you should do so now. Unless you just don't appreciate things like humor, Wilkie Collins, book reviews, opera, secret lesbian relationships, or nonsequiturs. In which case I'm not sure how I feel about your reading my blog. Go away.)
CoS is my least favorite book in the series, so I might as well put that out there. I don't love PS/SS, but at least it does provide our introduction to this wonderful world of witches & wizards. CoS is a slower read and filled with characters who are like salt in a dessert: a judicial amount of it makes the dessert amazing but use it heavy-handedly, it is no longer dessert; it is a disaster. I'm looking at you, Dobby and Gilderoy Lockhart. But more about them when they actually appear...
Chapter One, p. 10: If people were at all thinking that the Dursleys, while not pleasant, weren't outright abusive, this should put them firmly in the other camp. Petunia "aimed a heavy blow at his [Harry's] head with a soapy frying pan."
Chapter Two: all of it. Here is Dobby. It's true that I come to care for Dobby over the course of the series. I regularly cry in Book Seven (YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN). But for this book he is the Jar-Jar Binks of the book. That is, a loathsome and pathetic creature inserted into this world for the express purpose of annoying me. I think Harry feels the same way at first, too:
Chapter Three, p. 32. Molly is described as looking like a saber-toothed tiger. Just a little foreshadowing of her moment of glory in book 7.
Chapter 3, p. 33. CAPS-LOCK Molly is upset because she didn't know where her boys were and they might have been dead somewhere. Ummm, I guess she forgot to look at her clock, which tells her where all of her family are at any given time? Or at least tells her that they're not in Mortal Peril? This is just annoying. But because Harry hasn't seen the clock yet, and Harry is our filter, she can't look in it to learn that her children are alive, just up to mischief. Whatevs.
Chapter 3, p. 39. I rather like Arthur Weasley, but he is kind of a shabby excuse for a parent when it comes to discipline or standing up to his wife. If he had more backbone, Molly would come across as less of a harpy. I think he's a good role model for his children, in that he's kind and curious and hard-working and good-hearted and pro-muggle, but he breaks as many wizarding rules as Lucius Malfoy and doesn't see that he should be held to the same laws as everyone else. Granted, Arthur just wants to tinker with muggle stuff and Lucius is up to nefarious things, BUT the laws are there for everybody. He should work to change the laws, not just blithely break them with no thought to the consequences. But how can you not love this:
Chapter Four, pp. 49-52. Harry lands in
Draco really is an asswipe in this book, but with a father like that, who can blame him? And it's not like Lucius is berating Draco for not doing well in school, which I'd be fine with (with a nod to Sarah at Sarah Says Read). It's that he's not first in his class over that mudblood Granger, which is a thoroughly different point. Maybe I've been reading too much fanfiction, but Draco is really, really smart in the books and could possibly have been top in the class if it weren't for Hermione. He *did* say he wouldn't mind being in Ravenclaw after all; he earned an Outstanding on his potions O.W.L.s; and he was clever enough to identify and repair the Vanishing Cabinets in HBP. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Ron feels downtrodden because his brothers overshadow him, but even without older siblings, Draco will never live up to his father's expectations.
Chapter 4, p. 63. Lucius's eyes are "glittering with malice" when he slips the diary in Ginny's book bag. What I want to know is this: how much does Lucius know about the diary? Does he realize it's a horcrux? He must know something--because later Draco knows that "Enemies of the Heir" means Enemies of the Heir of Slytherin. And later in GoF we learn that Voldemort had previously told his Death Eaters that he had taken steps toward immortality. But I somehow think that if Lucius knew he was unleashing a little bit of Voldie's soul, not to mention unleashing a basilisk in the same school where his only son was a student, he might have done something else.
Chapter 5, p. 81. JKR must be having us on, because Snape "looked as though Christmas had been canceled," when we all know he was the one who wanted to cancel it in the first place:
Ugh, this is taking too long. I'm spending WAY more time searching for GIFs than I am writing this here post. Moving on...because this book is ultimately skimmable...
Gilderoy Lockhart, blah, blah, blah.
If that damned basilisk is so hungry, why doesn't it ever stick around to kill somebody and eat it? Terribly unlucky for it that everything just gets petrified instead. Blah, blah, blah.
For JKR's convenience, Hermione cannot recall where she read about the Chamber of Secrets. This, despite her annoyingly photographic memory over the course of the entire series. I bought it when Harry couldn't remember where he'd read about Nicholas Flamel, but here I call shenanigans on the author:
Ginny is upset about Mrs. Norris's being petrified because she likes cats--yup, that's why she's upset all right. Blah, blah, blah.
Harry is stupid and doesn't the truth to an adult about hearing voices because not trusting adults is a trope in this series, blah, blah, blah.
I'm waiting for the second half of this book because the first half leaves me feeling like Doppelganger Willow from Buffy: