"“Do I look stupid?" snarled Uncle Vernon, a bit of fried egg dangling from his bushy mustache.”
Reading this series, especially the early books in the series, is like eating chocolate. Not garbage Hershey's, either - the good stuff that tastes amazing just by itself, or, shit, some of those chocolate truffles that leak cream with every nibble. And, hey, I indulged in this book while I was supposed to be working during my last two weeks as though it were a sweet.
Take a bite; here is some wonder at the unknown, then here's admiration for the personal strength of a character who has stood up for what he - or, she - believes in. Finally, you can even taste a large quantity of the bizarre, and, yes, even some of the macabre, in this bite. It finishes with a sense of assurance that reminds me of the game series Persona - that through the bonds of loving closeness and friendship, almost nothing is impossible to protect, to save. Delicious.
The good thing about high-grade sweets is that it's not all sugary and artificial, either - it's got deeper flavors in it that come out the more you concentrate and roll it around on your tongue. Incidentally - sorry if I am making it harder with all of this talking about chocolate to stick to any diet you're on at the moment.
In case talking about chocolate doesn't work, here's some visual torture!
I thought it was appropriate to compare this series to chocolate, due to the third book and its liberal use of the brown stuff all throughout it. Also like chocolate, a lot of people rightfully like the series a great deal, but there's always that group in the minority who just doesn't "love" chocolate. If you don't get hungry at the sight of that opening scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I begin to think that you're a lizard person.
Speaking of lizard people...
Similarly, if the story of a seemingly powerless underdog trying to protect the first piece of stability and happiness that he has ever experienced, in spite of how many obstacles are thrown his way does not interest you, then you might be inhuman or something. Just saying.
And it's got MAGIC in it! Magic!
Where is your sense of childhood wonder, your belief that good can triumph over evil, even if at terrible odds?
Bah. Go ahead an BE a grouch; you probably only like to read the "classics", anyway; actual reading for pleasure may just be beyond you.
In this edgier-sounding book title (a chamber of secrets!), Harry picks up from where he left off after the first book - back at the Dursley's the only thing that's changed is that he can vaguely threaten them with pretending to use fake magic. Besides how frightened they've grown of him, everything else is basically the same for him. Waiting to go back to Hogwarts is the main engine that drives him to get up every morning. Although his first year was rather memorable (sometimes for all the wrong reasons, like that final, nightmarish show-off with Professor Quirrell) as it turns out, this year will beat the shock value of his first year - and it is an exceedingly good thing that Harry is going to be on his toes, because what is going to happen is going to require him to be cleverer and braver than he ever has before.
Much less focused on the day-to-day life of Harry still getting used to living like a Wizard than the last book, this one highlights how resourceful and brave Harry has grown, as he decides what is worth protecting and the way that he wants to live. This book is special in the series, because it introduces both the notions that Voldemort both did not act alone back when he was in power - indeed, there is an entire demographic of hateful people who would do anything to return to life, pre-Harry Potter - and that there is a fragile ecosystem in the school which could topple at some point if it were not properly protected.
With each book, we witness the scope of Harry's understanding widened, and this works also with the reader. Evil, in the first book, seemed to be a sort of vaguer concept, while in this one, we can see how evil can differ in strength and can be motivated by different means, desires. We also see how evil is not that far from what is good - the old chestnut that the villain is not so different from the hero is presented here as well; Harry sees for perhaps the first time that Lord Voldemort was not so different from Harry in MANY respects.
Good, it seems, has to be a voluntary choice, as is to be evil. Our choices are what makes us who we are.
Rowling, I love you, that has to be the only reason that I spent almost two friggin' hours writing this out. Ugh.