Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J. K. Rowling
Published: 1999, Scholastic
Harry Potter #2. Still ramping up for #7, which is on sale a month from tomorrow! Woo hoo!
I have always thought of this as one of my less favorite of the Harry Potter books, but I think this re-read has changed my mind! Like Marianne McA said in the comments on my SS post, the plot of this book always seemed like an unconnected adventure, almost like a side story that didn't really contribute to the plot arc of the series. I think this is why its importance faded for me as I got further along. For people desperate to know the whys and wherefores of the great Harry vs. Voldemort plot, this book doesn't seem to answer many questions.
Now that we know the diary was a horcrux, this is somewhat not the case. But I do think that it stands alone better than any of the others. The plot is so, so clever---it is really a complete mystery all on its own in a way that the other books fail to accomplish. The clues that fall and the way all the pieces eventually fit together form a mystery that is supremely satisfying.
Another thing that struck me on this re-read *SPOILER ALERT* is that it really does make sense why Dumbledore had to die. In both SS and CoS, there is a sort of awkward point at which Dumbledore must be got out of the way so that Harry can be the one to face Voldemort. In SS Dumbledore is sent rushing off to the Ministry of Magic by a fake message, and in CoS the school governors suspend him briefly. Circumstances in GoF work out so that Harry is alone. The next time Harry comes in direct contact with Voldemort is in OotP, when Dumbledore is there to protect Harry and engage Voldemort in battle, and this creates a sort of anticlimactic moment for us. We want Harry to be the hero, but how is he to be when the amazingly powerful Dumbledore is around?
Prisoner of Azkaban is next, and it's my favorite! Yippee.