(This is a repost from Usenet, but I need to start out with something, eh?)
When I read the first Harry Potter book and reported my general reaction of "enh", I was told that no, no, that didn't count because I had seen the movie already, so I needed to read the second book to appreciate the things. Well, I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , and I have to say that it's very compellingly readable -- I wasn't able to put the thing down, and had to plow right through it. Very nice sense of pace Rowling has.
The thing is: Piers Anthony has that, too. And reading this book felt a lot like reading a Piers Anthony book. The plot only gets to go along because everyone in the damn book is a moron, with Harry once again passing up numerous perfectly good chances to explain to the omnicompetent Dumbledore exactly what's going on; and then, in the coup de grace, a major plot point rests on a fucking anagram every bit as stupid and contrived as the "Natasha"/"Ah, Satan" idiocy from one of those lame-ass Piers Anthony books. Good God, that was terrible.
I feel dirty and used, having read this; but I also feel newly confident in saying that Harry Potter is unabashed trash, and while it may be useful in luring kids into reading (hey, lots of kids read Xanth, too), any adult who likes these books should openly admit that they're slumming, rather than trying to pretend that the books are actually good.
The worst part is, I'll probably end up reading the next two, because I'm capable of enjoying trashy pulp if it's breezy enough. But at least now I'll be going into them with no lingering illusions that they harbor anything resembling good writing.