Oh Harry, we were on such a roll together after I read the first book. I fell in love with your world and even found you to be much more tolerable than I expected (which is a huge compliment coming from me). But then I read Chamber of Secrets and I have to wonder, why wasn't this just called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Part 2? The outline is pretty much the same and until the ending, I didn't really feel like I learned many new things. Meh.
So our lovely pal Harry is back at Hogwarts (after a well-known incident with a flying car) and is suddenly hearing voices. Instead of looking for help from his teachers, he hides it - even when a bunch of people are "petrified" (kinda become a statue, from my limit magic understanding). Anyway, turns out Harry can speak to snakes, that a chamber of secrets (hence the title) has been opened in the school and of course it involves Voldemort again.
This is a really rough outline, but I assume most people already know what happens, so this was just to bring you up to date really quick.
What I liked about this book is the expansion on Hogwart's world. We learn more about Quidditch, the classes Harry's in and the overall feeling of being a young wizard. I loved this part and the fact that there is so much depth to every character and to every element in the world. Rowling leaves nothing unexplained (except for some elements that are needed for later books) and explores a bunch of backstories of characters, while also really showing the reader what Hogwarts is like.
I mentioned before in this review that I feel like fantasy authors often borderline in between not giving enough information - so preventing the reader from really relating to the world - and giving too much information - so that the reader is overwhelmed by it and often can find flaws. However, this is clearly not the case with Rowling. There's a great dynamic between information and action and there are basically no flaws. Everything makes sense. This woman had a great plan while writing these books and she stuck to it. Major props for that, no one can ever question the great writing skills of Rowling in my eyes.
For some reason, and this is really personal, I just wasn't that interested in the chamber and the diary and all that stuff. Students got petrified, but they can be healed with a plant. I guess it's kinda sucky to have students drop out during the year, but I couldn't really relate to it. I didn't see why Harry had to get involved once again. But bravo Harry for saving everyone (and Ginny, spoiler). Maybe this was too action-packed for me and because I enjoyed the "normal" Hogwarts experience so much I didn't enjoy it? I'm not completely sure, but I just didn't really get into the story.
When I think about that amazing plan J.K. Rowling had while writing the book, I can also imagine she wrote at the top "FOLLOW THE EXACT SAME OUTLINE AS FIRST BOOK".
1. Harry has a bad summer with his muggle aunt/uncle/nephew
2. Harry goes to Hogwarts, but stuff happens before he gets there
3. Harry has a normal week-ish
4. Harry starts noticing things no one else notices
5. Harry's scar hurts
6. Harry gets too deep into something he really should have told a teacher about
7. Harry saves the day and goes home to have a crap summer
There is nothing wrong with this outline, I thoroughly enjoyed it in book one, it just got a bit boring once I noticed that it's the same as in book one. (I must add here that I'm reading book three right now and already enjoy it so much more by the addition of Sirius Black as a character, so this was probably a once off problem!) J.K. Rowling is such a great writer and I felt like she could do so much more with book two. Maybe it was her publisher, maybe she was scared to break a winning formula - whatever it is, it just didn't work for me.
So even though I might be hanged for this by Harry Potter lovers (aka the whole population) I can only give this book a 3 out of 5. It was "okay", "not bad", "not as great as the first one but that's normal". It just didn't do it for me, though J.K. Rowling's writing is still amazing and the world she created is still fantastic. Just too many book one vibes.