Sunday, 24 February 2013

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Chamber of Secrets has always been my least favourite of the Potter books, but I don't really know why. I still don't, and in fact, I'm starting to think it must be a more recent decision than I thought. I remember standing at the living room window and waiting for the delivery van to arrive with my copy of Prisoner of Azkaban, but I really don't think I would have done that if I'd disliked Chamber of Secrets as much as I do now. I think I actually dislike it rather than simply not liking it. Perhaps because it's my least favourite, my brain has warped it so I see it so much worse than it actually is, I don't know. Perhaps the film has spoilt this one for me (because it is a dreadful film, really). Still, today I have one positive thing to say about this book (shocking, I know) and two negative ones.

1 - I like the Hagrid of the books a lot better than the Hagrid of the films. I know a lot has to be cut from the films, that it simply isn't possible to include everything from the book, but I think Hagrid is one of the characters who suffers the most from this. He is a blundering oaf in the films, and in the books, too, I suppose, but he's also loveable in the books. And funny. Not funny in a cheesy I shouldn't have said that way like in the film, but funny in a more subtle way.

2 - I think I've mentioned this before, but why did Riddle call the Basilisk instead of just killing Harry with his own wand and the Avada Kedavra spell? It was put to me that maybe he wasn't strong enough to actually do any magic and just didn't want Harry to have the wand, but after Harry [spoiler alert] slays the Basilisk, he intends to kill Harry with magic. Why bother with the giant snake? It doesn't make sense to me.

3 - And, speaking of the giant snake, it's got poisonous fangs. It failed to kill anyone by looking at it, which is acceptable if a little heavily reliant on coincidence, but why wouldn't it give them a quick bite to finish the job off? It wouldn't take very long to do and even if it didn't kill the person quickly enough that they couldn't be cured by Snape or Madam Pomfrey, the snake wouldn't know how quickly they would be found. It just seems ridiculous that the Basilisk wouldn't try something else when it failed in its assigned task to kill students.

You may have noticed that I've been illustrating these blog posts with the adult versions of the book covers, which is purely because these are the ones I'm reading this time around. I bought a boxed set of adult paperbacks a while ago when I realised that I didn't have a complete set of my own (we've probably got at least three copies of each book in my household, but I didn't have my own matching set), but it's always seemed odd to me that this book needed different covers for children and adults. I understand that maybe some adults were embarrassed to be seen reading a children's book - some people are strange like that - but  as far as I can tell, I never saw one of these adult covers before the fifth book was released. Which means that obviously adults were reading the books with the children's covers long before the adult ones were available. I actually think these ones are a bit nicer than the originals, but again, that might come back to the fact that the first book had a train on the front cover. A train. I promise I'll stop banging on about that eventually. Up next, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

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