Wednesday, June 13, 2012
100 Books #53 - J.K. Rowling's HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
It's the secondary and incidental characters that are really selling me on these books as I finish with the second of seven, especially the Weasley family, and especially the Weasley Twins. Intended, from what I can gather, as a sort of faded gentry in the wizard world -- "too little money and too little children" as the uni-dimensionally awful aristocrat brat Draco Malfoy mocks them -- the family is loving, clever and charming and the twins, the twins are more fun than any one boy ever could be alone, smart, resourceful, full of mischief and pranks, and utterly, utterly lovable. Meeting the rest of the family is easily the best part of this second Harry Potter novel, but there are lots of contenders for second best.
Such as the fact that Hermione spends a good chunk of the second half of the story turned to stone. I'm sorry, but she annoys the hell out of me. Such as Dobby the House Elf, who reminds me of Michael Palin's maniacally self-flagellating waiter in Monty Python's Indian Restaurant Sketch and whose attempts to save Harry Potter's life always wind up getting Harry into big trouble. Such as poor Moaning Myrtle. Such as Professor McGonnagle, whom Rowling simply has to have been picturing as Maggie Smith from the start, which makes her wonderful.
But then there's Professor Lockhart, the most cardboard yet of Rowling's nuisance characters. I'm sure I'm meant to cheer his fate at the end but I couldn't be arsed; I think this would have been a better book without him. And yes, I'm aware he's meant to be a warning of the dangers of Harry's maybe buying into his own celebrity too much, but Harry is just so very, very good that perils such as those are onionskin tigers at best. He's such a paragon, our Harry. I'd maybe seek to frame him for some malefaction or other myself.
I did enjoy the mystery plot, and all the behind-the-scenes wrangling and jockeying for power that it caused, though it's quite possible that George R.R. Martin has spoiled this kind of clash between capital G Good and capital E Evil characters for me, for good. I understand that these are young adult books and thus are supposed to be rather black and white affairs, but so far I'm not 100% sold on the idea that they're as enjoyable for adults as for children.
I bet I'd have loved them unreservedly as a teenybopper, had they existed then. Nonetheless, I will read on, out of curiosity and out of love for the second-tier cast. What are Fred and George going to scheme up next?