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Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (spoilers)

Proposition: the reason that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is less interesting than the first book is that the story is mostly about someone other than Harry.

Discuss.

(Alternatively, what the heck was Bloomsbury UK thinking with the kids-version cover art for the seventh book? (See also: US version.))

ETA: I've booklogged this book & its predecessor.




My first thought was that they were thinking Terry Pratchet covers. It looks like a Josh Kirby pastiche to me.

So glad I realised (shortly after I finished tOtP) that I don't have to read them. The discussion is much more engrossing.

Me too, and I can't think of a case where "Josh Kirby pastiche" is a good thing!

(no subject) - kgbooklog, 2007-03-29 06:45 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(Deleted comment)
I've been listening to them as audiobooks, and the second was hard work to keep listening to, while the first was not.

So I disagree.

I saw the cover art linked from metaquotes before, and... well, I can't snark better than those commenting there (Common emergent themes: Ali Baba, Stargate, Dobby... surprising Harry rather unexpectedly and unpleasantly), so I'll leave it with "What were they thinking" as well. I'd thought the US cover was weird, but comparatively it looks positively classy, and even makes you wonder about Harry's weird pose in there. (Right after an expelliarmus?)

As to the Chamber of Secrets: It's true that Harry is mostly an observer there, but I don't know that he's less of an observer in, say, Azkaban or Stone. In all three books he watches things happen, finds clues, follows clues, and in the final scene acts. Perhaps it is less interesting because it is more of a mystery than the other two---in Stone they discover the focal point is the philosopher's stone early on, in Azkaban Sirius Black is named practically on page one, but for me the Heir of Slytherin remained shadowy and somewhat confusing even after the fight with the basilisk. It was... a piece of Voldemort's soul. Who was the heir. Who was acting through Ginny. All right, then. (Of course it all made perfect sense in book six.)

Chamber is still the weakest book for my money too, but I am not sure if that was the whole reason for that feeling.

I think the real story in _CoS_ is *Ginny's*, which is a lot more interesting than Harry playing detective--though the mystery part is reasonably well-constructed.

In _PS_, at least he was still learning about the magical world and all.

But we'll see what I think after I listend to _PoA_.

(no subject) - stormfeather, 2007-03-29 03:53 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - eruthros, 2007-03-29 04:46 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2007-03-29 05:54 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - eruthros, 2007-03-29 06:09 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - houseboatonstyx, 2007-03-30 03:59 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2007-03-30 10:51 am (UTC)(Expand)
And PS: I linked to this entry from my own entry today. I hope you don't mind.

Not at all, except that you got the username wrong. =>

(no subject) - silmaril, 2007-03-29 02:46 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2007-03-29 02:47 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - skwidly, 2007-03-29 03:07 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - corruptedjasper, 2007-03-30 02:48 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2007-03-30 02:56 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - corruptedjasper, 2007-03-30 11:52 pm (UTC)(Expand)
I like the second book a great deal more than the first. There's a sense of menace in Chamber that's completely absent in Stone, with its seven impossible tasks that present three eleven year olds with only a minor challenge.

But I would agree that the difference in quality also has something to do with the books' respective focus. Harry is, by far, the series' least interesting character, and the books work best when he's acting as an observer, our window to the history of the wizarding world and his own extended family.

I was surprised that in listening to the first book, I got a better sense of Harry's personality than I'd remembered from reading them. But generally, yes, he's a youth-shaped hole in the story for readers to step through--which is not necessarily a bad thing, as you say.

After looking at the UK version I suspect that's positioning for Dan Radcliffe being and looking 21 when he's playing 16 for the last movie. Doesn't excuse it, though, it's dreadful.

Heh. I did notice that Harry's face was particularly craggy, but still--the US cover manages an older Harry with much more subtlety.

Hmm... this made me realize that part of the reason I don't like the second book as much is not because it doesn't focus on Harry, but because it is focused on Ginny, who certainly at the time is not a strong enough character to handle it. (The third book, which is my favorite, is also not focused on Harry, but it's focused on Sirius and Lupin, who are *much* more interesting characters.)

But could she have been, is I guess what I was thinking? The real plot happened largely out of sight of Harry, and just gets recounted by Tom; if it had been foregrounded, could it have been compelling? I don't see any reason why not.

I am looking forward to seeing how the third book holds up on audio. At this point I remember the movie a lot better.

(no subject) - charlie_ego, 2007-03-29 06:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Huh! CoS is definitely my least favorite of the series so far, but I never thought about why. I was going to say that I didn't think it was the focus on a non-Harry character, just because my favorite parts of the series have been the revelation of backstory, be it Sirius' or Voldemort's or Snape's. But then I read the comments and agree about the focus on Ginny.

It's also been a while since I've reread it, so my memory's a bit fuzzy. I do also remember being annoyed at the "poor wrongly accused Harry" plot. Harry being conflicted and at odds with his friends or with other people tends to bore me throughout the series, so that may be a part of my own personal reaction to CoS.

I don't enjoy the "poor Harry" parts either; they tend to make me feel claustrophobic and seem to take up much more space than they actually do.

Harry Potter #7 Children's Cover

Okay, I'll confess. I actually PREFER the Harry Potter #7 Children's Cover to the adult cover. More action. More loot. Also, I am dying to find out how Harry Potter gets to Scrooge McDuck's treasury. Does Gyro Gearloose teach Defense Against the Dark Arts?

Re: Harry Potter #7 Children's Cover

how Harry Potter gets to Scrooge McDuck's treasury

Heh.

Cover art

Kate: the link you give points to the US artist's gallery.

Re: Cover art

When I posted that, it pointed to a gallery with the US, UK kids, and UK adults covers. How annoying.

Here, try this for links to all of them:

http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/index.php?articleID=9653

And this for the UK kids:

http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/gallery/picture/129922

I'll update the post:

Prolly too late for discussion, but I'll post anyways

(An incessant reminder why USENET is superior to LJ, but I digress...)

Since my "There's no Harry there" theory has already been posted, I am pbliged to pull up my other HP chestnut--namely: The whole Harry Potter series would have been improved greatly if the Sorting Hat had put him into Slytherin despite his pleas to the contrary.

Because Harry is still Harry (that is, generic good guy) there is no reason that we couldn't still have had him bond with Ron and Hermione on the train and still had Friends for Life. But having Harry in Slytherin would have given us a closer look at this supposedly "evil" house, and maybe some of the non-Malfoy people within. Just because Slytherin people are, mostly, clever and opportunistic doesn't mean they would or should all be natural allies of Voldemort. Also, it would have given people's reactions to Harry more nuance--or at least more logic. The way that the Griffindors alternately embrace and shun Harry would make more sense if he wasn't one of them.

Because really, having 1/4 of your school populated by known traitors and malevolent bastards really doesn't make any sense at all.

Re: Prolly too late for discussion, but I'll post anyways

I did say that about Slytherin in the booklog entry, though not that Harry should've been put in.

Harry in Slytherin is of course a staple of fanfic, but a particularly good one that happens to include this is an AU in which Harry is psychologically well-adjusted by virtue of being raised by Black & Lupin from age 8 (the pivot moment is Black not going to Azkaban). It's an uncanny pastiche, a lot of fun, and a deliberate reconstruction of the best of the books on better plots and more balanced characters--maybe it's a bit too perfect, I admit, but still fun.

The prequel is _Stealing Harry_; the subsequent years at Hogwarts are _Laocoon's Children_, years 1 - 3 (currently in progress; all 7 are projected). You can browse them here : http://sam-storyteller.livejournal.com/tag/

(Nb. readers who don't want to read about two guys in a sexual & romantic relationship should stay away.)

I know what I'm thinking: "Goddamn, that's one big-ass spine." And also, "I wonder if that's the real one or a decoy."

Actually, on the Kirby-esque cover, Harry looks amazingly like the young adult Tim Hunter from Books of Magic. And to me, that's not necessarily a Good Thing.

- Cho


Huh. I've only read the first of those, so I can't say.

(no subject) - chomiji, 2007-04-01 08:41 pm (UTC)(Expand)