Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets review

Before getting into this, there will be spoilers!!! We have read the series before and we plan on discussing it as thoroughly as possible. Therefore, spoilers for future books and the book itself will be included!


harry potter and the sorcerer's stone cover

Chantel’s rating – 4.5/5
Caidyn’s rating – 5/5

My first instinct when rating Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was three stars. It didn’t stand out to me at the time and I remember the later books being so much better. This was before we started the re-read and let me tell you, I can’t believe I rated it so low. Especially considering the fact that I have five copies of this book because I’m extra like that. The first Harry Potter book, for me, has the reputation of being meh. That wasn’t the case when I actually sat down and read it. I have a newfound appreciation for the first book and movie because they introduce us to the world we love so much. We are Harry throughout his first year of Hogwarts discovering all of the magic of this world and I love it so much.

There were definitely a few plot holes for me, or a few questions that weren’t answered, but they are hardly relevant because they aren’t a part of the larger plot. While they bother me, I’m sure that other people never even noticed them.

A few things stood out to me during my re-read. Mainly, it has to do with characters.

  1. Ron is a bit of an asshole.
  2. Hermione was probably one of my first crushes ever.
  3. I look forward to seeing more of Harry’s growth throughout the series.
  4. Movie Snape > Book Snape.
  5. Ginny acts more like a six or seven year old than a ten year old.
  6. The Weasleys are the best. (Except Ron).
  7. I hate Malfoy.
  8. A lot of negative characters are portrayed as fat. This continues on in Chamber of Secrets and later books.
  9. Hagrid is the best. Ever.
  10. McGonagall is the best teacher at Hogwarts. Period.

When it comes to being the first book in the series that introduces the audience into a new world, I don’t think anyone does it better than J.K. Rowling in Sorcerer’s Stone (Sorry, yo, I’m American).

However, I want to make a note about J.K. Rowling because for a long time she was my fucking hero. Yet she has done a lot of things that piss me off. I don’t know if we should get into it now, but the shit she’s pulled recently doesn’t take away from what she did with Harry Potter.

My rating has never changed. I think it’s a five star book because it’s an amazing read and I love it. But, there are some issues with it, of course. Even books I give five stars to have some issues. But, I do agree with you on most things. Minus hating Malfoy, but that’s a conversation for a later book. It doesn’t seem fair to judge him just yet.

Ron is a character I always have conflicted feelings over, too. I like him and I don’t like him. He’s a very real character, one who you root for yet he has bad traits. He’s not perfect. And that’s something I like about these books. Even our heroes — and they are heros, not anti-heroes — have bad traits that you wish they could find a way to change.

But, I think we can save our JK conversation until later. Like the last book since it sums it all up yet she decided to continue in the universe.

I couldn’t give it five stars simply due to the plot holes and I don’t think the books peak at the first one. I wanted to give myself some wiggle room for the books to come because I don’t think they should all be rated the same simply based on nostalgia. I do think later down the road we can have a conversation about Malfoy because I think there is more to him, but I still don’t like him. I don’t know how much that will change. Throughout the first and second book, he’s a prick, but we start to see that his father Lucius is a prick too.

Ron is a hot head in the books. I’ve heard more and more than book Ron is different from movie Ron, but I found book Ron annoying. Again, I don’t think he’s nice to Hermione, especially in this book. Which is normal for younger kids, but this is also the girl he ends up marrying which is a whole other issue for me. I think it’s too early to start that discussion as well. However, I agree that all of these characters are flawed in one way or another and I think (for the most part) they are well written and complex.

I think that’s a good idea as well. I just wanted to put a brief disclaimer that I have issues with her decisions and will not be supporting her in anything beyond the original seven books.

See, when I read it, I didn’t catch any plot holes. But my mind doesn’t always work like that. I don’t necessarily read and see those things unless I’m looking for them. For me, it’s not five stars out of nostalgia, it’s because I think they’re amazing books that deserve five stars because of how intricate they are and how even the earlier books compliment the later ones rather than losing sight.

If anything, Ron was nicer to Hermione in the movies. In the books, JKR really showed that they fought a lot, yet that they also worked together a lot when they needed to. For Harry’s sake, mainly. Again, I think we might be getting ahead ourselves with topics. We can talk about the budding relationships in books six and seven, along with our coda on JKR (who I won’t support beyond the first seven either) and, I’m sure, the horrible thing that was called Cursed Child.

As I said before, they are mostly irrelevant but they were there in my eyes. I think we’ll probably disagree with ratings as we go on because there is one book I can’t stand and one that Caidyn loves, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s very possible that we will have very differing opinions on the books moving forward especially because I do think some are flawed.

Ron was a lot nicer in the movies but I think the books are more true to his character. I know, I need to not get ahead of myself but there’s so many things to talk about I have to keep myself contained.

But if there isn’t any more to be said, I think we should move on to Chamber of Secrets where I believe we have more to talk about.

Oh, I’m sure there will be gif wars a few times about things when we don’t agree, then we get over because, hey, it’s a valid opinion and criticism. And I do agree with you on some parts since I know the book you’re talking about.

I’d hope that the books are more true to his character! Yes, contain yourself, Chantel. We have, like, five more reviews to write beside this.

Yes, we can move on. I think you can kick it off since I have a proper review of this floating around somewhere on Goodreads!

It’s all pretty tame now, but just you wait.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)

Chantel’s rating: 3.5/5
Caidyn’s rating: 5/5

After riding the high that was the Sorcerer’s Stone, I went into Chamber of Secrets pretty optimistic. In a lot of ways, the first two books are pretty similar to me. They have a similar tone and I think it fits that after the second movie, it switched directors and had a completely different tone. From here on out, things are going to get a lot darker and quick.

About half of this I read on my physical copy, but I wasn’t reading fast enough for my liking so I listened to the second half on audiobook and finished it in two days. I just want to shout out Jim Dale here for his narration of all seven books. He is the narrator for the U.S. versions and he’s amazing. His Lockhart made me giggle so many times, it was spot on. His Moaning Myrtle, perfection. The fact that he changed his voice for the characters was what I found so enjoyable when I listened to the book on tape (yes, on tape) when I was younger.

I will say that I didn’t enjoy Chamber of Secrets as much as Sorcerer’s Stone. I really take issue with the way Voldemort materializes in this book because it’s not really him. It’s the memory of his teenage self, but I wasn’t a fan. It seemed very complicated and it wasn’t even a good plan. That’s just what I feel, but Caidyn did help me realize that there is a lot of importance in later books. However, on it’s own, it doesn’t work for me and I felt the climax with Tom Riddle and the Basilisk was the least interesting part of the book.

I want to talk about the Dursleys real quick. I have a real issue with them getting any kind of redemption because of how they treat Harry, specifically in this book. There is a moment early on where Aunt Petunia attempts to hit Harry with a frying pan. A fucking frying pan. That’s straight up abuse and I think for that they are unforgivable. I know there is a popular fan theory circulating and we can talk about that later on, but it doesn’t work for me. They are awful people and while I’m usually not black and white, for this I am.

I look forward to seeing how things change as the books go on. I look forward to seeing more of Ginny as I thought she was better written in this book than in Sorcerer’s Stone and I have a lot of thoughts about where she ends up. As of right now, I wouldn’t put this in the top half of the seven, but that may change as we go on.

I’m skipping over your whole intro thing to get to the heart of the matter. I totally agree the audiobooks are good, but I also love audiobooks.

See, I agree with you in the end. I agree that this book isn’t as strong but I can never exactly separate it from the series as a whole. Yes, it might not be as strong, but it’s crazy to see how she had it all mapped out from the beginning. Still, I loved this book because I thought the mystery and the climax was interesting, which is quite unlike you. I thought it worked, but, again, I think that comes down to personal taste.

Wow, jumping ahead again. I think that this might be a topic more fit for the seventh book. Along with all the heavy hitting topics we’ve kind of mentioned so far without being able to talk about. We’re going to have to make a list at this rate.

But, I agree. The Dursleys are horrible people. They were horrible before Harry and they just ramped up the hate after he came into their lives. Then he was there for eons and that made it worse. I really wish that JKR had talked more about the abuse Harry suffered. Because, in the first book, Dudley was encouraged to beat him up when he got that stick from his secondary school. Before that, he was already beating Harry up. That means he had to be shown how to do it by his parents to know that was okay to do. I know this statement jumps ahead a bit in the series, but I don’t blame Harry for not being sure if he would save the Dursleys from Voldemort if he came for them. And this is the boy who tried to save Wormtail and even tried to save Voldemort himself in the end.

And I don’t love audiobooks but Harry Potter is A+ all the way.

I think in the context of it standing alone in the series, yes I think it’s weaker. I do agree with your argument that she has set up in book two for what happens later. That’s really great, but I don’t see it as part of that whole right now. I may not ever, but I won’t know until we finish it up. I think everything leading up to the moment they go into the chamber is interesting. In the end, you said it best with it’s about personal taste. The meh I originally felt for Sorcerer’s Stone is how I felt about Chamber of Secrets.

It’s really hard to not talk about the series as a whole, but again I’ll try to refrain.

I was actually surprised to see evidence of physical abuse on the page because I don’t remember that before. I know in the movies Uncle Vernon pulls on his hair and they deprive him of food, lock him in the closet, etc. However, I did not recall throwing a frying pan. I do wish that JKR had been more explicit in the abuse because it’s there and it’s disgusting. I didn’t think about Dudley even. He’s the only one really explicitly portrayed as beating up Harry, but I do think that it’s clear he wasn’t the only one who was physically abusive. I really struggle to see the redemption of the Dursleys. I don’t see it frankly and I don’t believe they should be excused for their actions. Throughout the series, there are human characters who are worse than Voldemort and I think the Dursleys are part of that group.

See, that’s why it’s hard to write these reviews. Because I can’t exactly separate the book from a the whole. Because I can’t forget the plot and trajectory and end point. I simply can’t. I can in some instances — such as to see your perspective on something — but other than that I can’t. It kind of sucks, but then it’s a good series so that’s okay.

Yeah, the abuse is context. But you also can’t forget that these books are meant for children. Or, the first few are. In one of the library systems around here, the first three are shelved as juvenile but the last four are shelved as young adult. Still, this is a series for children. Huge descriptions of abuse wouldn’t have worked well, even if I think it would have been more realistic to show that more on the page.

I do agree that the first two books read more like middle grade. I think that goes away in the later books, but I understand the lack of explicit abuse. However, I’m not a fan of it being something you only realize when you’re older. It might be too heavy for most people, but I think it would be good for children to have an idea of what it’s like or have a character to relate to if they are going through similar struggles.

Overall, I’m not denying the series is great. I just think Chamber of Secrets compared to the rest is weaker on it’s own.

2 thoughts on “Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets review

  1. Pingback: Prisoner of Azkaban review – BW Reviews

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – Books You’d Mash Together – BW Reviews

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