Synopsis: Do any of you need it?! Okay…just in case – here goes:
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?
Hm. Okay. So I didn’t love that one. I liked it, I did! But it didn’t have the same irresistible charm as Sorcerer’s Stone for me.
I’m being vague but I don’t know if I can specify. Let me try to.
For one thing, this didn’t have the same mastery of language as the first. It seemed in Sorcerer’s Stone that every word was a careful choice, and the right one. Here, the phrase “after all” was used three times in one measly paragraph. It wasn’t poorly written by any stretch of the imagination…but it could be a bit sloppy.
Two: not as exciting. The second act plot-line may have been better than the first book’s, but it took <i>forever</i> to get to that point. The first two-thirds or three-quarters of this book dragged for me, really. And I needed some excitement to break up the endless studying and work of finals week!
Three: as I mentioned in my HPSS review, my favorite part of this series is the worldbuilding. Every aspect of this world drips with magic, and it’s so lovely. I’ll never tire of reading about Diagon Alley, or Hogwarts feasts, or Quidditch – and I cannot wait for Hogsmeade! There was a lot less discussion of the world here. God, how I wish there was. Is there more in the other books? It seems there’d have to be in Goblet of Fire, no?
Four: I missed Hermione! I didn’t realize how much of the appeal of this series for me was based on her. At least this book really confirmed my adoration of her. Absolutely one of the best YA characters ever, in my opinion. I missed Neville, too! At least Hermione had a reason for not being there, but where was the lovely Neville this whole time?
Five: In general, this book seemed a bit…stuck. Sorcerer’s Stone has a great variety of characters, and features different classes and aspects of Hogwarts life. This installment gave me cabin fever. The whole thing is limited almost entirely to Harry and Ron. They’re great, don’t get me wrong, but not enough for me. Hagrid wasn’t here much, nor Fred and George. Quidditch only happened, what, once? The only class truly described was Lockhart’s, which made me want to bang my head against the wall. In short, I missed everybody. All the new characters introduced here are just unbearable. (Colin, Lucius, Gilderoy…even Dobby at some points. Sorry.)
On the bright side, I don’t think this is anybody’s favorite Harry Potter book. I’m a bit deflated, but overall rather excited to get on with this reread. (Once a few of my finals are done with, though. Shiver.)
Bottom line: every series has its weak points. I’m still thrilled to be doing this reread, and am sure I’ll love the next one!
Update from a couple weeks later: This broke my enthusiasm more than I realized it would. (I said ‘enthusiasm’ rather than ‘streak’ because two books is not a streak. I’m just the worst.)
I finished this book 12 days ago and haven’t really felt the urge to pick up Azkaban. I’ve read 5 books instead. (In case you were wondering if I still have a massive surplus of reviews, I do! More than ten of them! I’m so bad at this!)
I am trying to think of ways to get enthusiastic about HP3 (because if I force myself I’ll hate it) while slogging through My Lady Jane (Emma-hates-what-everyone-loves, part 1893748329) and failing. Look, I can’t even stay on the topic of HP3.
In other words, my 2016 reread of the Harry Potter books won’t be so 2016-y after all. Oh, and also: goddamn motherfuck this year. I’m done. How dare you take Carrie Fisher from us. (I’m going to make myself digress here, even though I’m rather sad.)
Maybe I’ll start trying to post reviews here every few days. Because my Google Drive reviews folder is only getting bigger, baby, and I’ll finish the neverending saga of Jane Grey someday!
The real bottom line: that addition was annoying and wishy washy and unfocused, but the moral of the story – I’ve temporarily lost interest in Harry and don’t know when I’ll regain it.