Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J. K. Rowling
I seem to remember claiming for a while, after reading the first three or four books, that this one was my favourite, but on subsequent re-reads it's fallen further and further down the list. Of all the monsters lurking in Harry Potter, I don't think you can beat the Basilisk - certainly not as someone who is terrified of snakes, anyway. I imagine that as with the first book, I have read this four or five times before, at least.
Arrrrrgh Dobby. He aggravates me in this book (and I always will him not to drop that bloody trifle at the beginning...). I like the fact that we get a glimpse of The Burrow at the beginning, and all the Weasleys together. The trip to Diagon Alley was most memorable for Gilderoy Lockhart, who I always think is a good addition to this story, useless as he is. His apparent obliviousness is pretty funny.
There are glimmers of the future Ron/Hermione storyline here, if only on Ron's part, as he is much more interested than Harry in Hermione's crush on Lockhart. I never really saw the Ron/Hermione pairing coming when I first read the series, but it does have some roots here.
Speaking of Hermione, it's a shame she is confined to the hospital wing for a good portion of this book - it was much more Ron and Harry as a duo, and I missed Hermione's input and her scathing comments, even if she did still solve the mystery.
Again, like book 1, the final battle between Harry and Tom seemed quite short this time around, and quite easily rectified. I like that Harry finally addresses his concerns over where the Sorting Hat put him, and his discussion with Dumbledore is one of the stand out moments in the book: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
Pick a quote:
"However," said Dumbledore, speaking very slowly and clearly, so that none of them could miss a word, "you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it."