Monday, May 17, 2010

The Worst Birthday

After a restful weekend I'm ready and raring to start in on book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I'm hoping to move through this one at a pretty fast clip and I'll tell you why. I long ago removed the dust jackets from my copies and have the book displayed on a shelf full of other Potter stuff (a snitch, glasses, movies, etc.) and I've discovered that when you remove Chamber of Secrets, the red of Sorcerer's Stone and the purple of Prisoner of Azkaban clash horribly. I'm telling you. Go try it with your copies and see how long you'd want to have to see that on you shelf everyday! I would put up pictures if I had a decent camera, it's that bad.

So, now that I've whined about decor for half a page, let's talk about the chapter. There's not much to this one really. It's basically your standard "let me do a quick recap of the first book for you" all sequels are cursed with. I know that it's there for the people who missed the first one and came in in the middle, but for me, who's far too compulsive to ever start a series in the middle, it gets old fast. I wish publisher's would consider putting out editions for people like me, that skip over all that stuff. Rowling is better than most at making it interesting (maybe not here, but she gets better at it). I can remember the days when I was into The Baby-Sitter's Club and Sweet Valley Twins when I would just skip the chapter that gave me all the back story stuff and I never missed a thing. Perhaps now that ebooks are becoming more popular, it will be possible to have editions of books that cut all that junk out. Then again, if you were to cut out all that stuff from this chapter, it would go a little something like this:

Harry and Dursleys were eating breakfast. Dudley demanded that Harry pass him some bacon and Harry said, "You didn't say the magic word."
After Uncle Vernon finished freaking out about Harry saying magic (again) he reminded everyone of his big business meeting. He headed out, admonishing Harry to stay out of Aunt Petunia's way.
He was trying to do just that, quietly singing Happy Birthday to himself and feeling sorry for himself that no one had sent him any gifts. Perhaps Ron and Hermione didn't want to be his friend. Sure, they'd risked their lives just a month before to help him, but they could have easily had a change of heart.
Something's watching him from the hedge.
Dudley comes out to make fun of Harry's lack of friends on his birthday and Harry takes the bait, pretending to cast magic on the hedge. As punishment Petunia makes Harry do the gardening. When finally the day is over, Harry eats and heads upstairs, where someone is sitting on his bed!

That's it. Short chapter. How do you feel about the "previously in" recaps, required of sequels?


  1. UGH!!! When I first read them, the recaps were the one thing I really did *not* like about Rowling's writing. I read the first two books back-to-back and the third shortly after and reread them so many times before each subsequent release that reading what I already remembered was sheer torture. I can't count the times I gave the books a hearty mental yell of "GET ON WITH IT!"

    I suppose I see their value to gaining new readers to the series (a feat that JK obviously mastered) but I really don't know of any readers that started the series with anything except book 1. Perhaps the recap value is then solely for the forgetful readers?

  2. LOL! Exactly! A small part of me was relieved this time, that I wouldn't have to think about anything too heavy at the beginning of the book. :)

    I know there are a few people in HE who started with later books actually. There's a thread about it somewhere over there, you should look for it. I bet you'll be surprised. :) (If I have time, I'll try to find it and PM you with the link).

  3. I started with POA. Because at the time they weren't hits and I just needed something to read and there it was, so for me that first time the recap was great. But every other time I read the books I just kinda do a "yada yada yada" approach to the first chapter.