Well, well I’ve finally crawled from under my big, slimy rock and started to read the Harry Potter series. I must say that I’m thrilled to have done it and I’m mighty sorry to not have done it sooner. What can I say, Harry Potter is a cool dude! I won’t bore you with a synopsis because about 99.9% of you already know what it’s about and the .1% left have probably seen at least one of the movies or live on another planet and have never heard of him. So, let’s cut to the chase. What did I think? I thought the story was magical, enchanting, captivating, mysterious, and suspenseful. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a recipe for success! I can now understand what all the hoopla was about. The writing style is engaging, descriptive and something about it reminded me of The Hobbit. I can’t explain it other than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone made me feel the same way I felt while I was reading The Hobbit, a certain childlike pleasure, rooting for the good guys.
The characters are all memorable, even down to the most detestable and insignificant, like those wretched
family members living at number four Privet Drive. They all play the important roles of helping to set the scenes of the story. The developing friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione is endearing, but quite typical of the way friends are made at school at this age. It was great to see that in spite of their weaknesses, their advantages are acknowledged and helped them save day. Harry Potter is no longer alone. He’s made great friends and the adventure continues on.
Another aspect of this book that I loved was the houses at Hogwarts. I find that the British culture and tradition of school made for a solid thread in this story. It wasn’t just magic for magic, there was a lot more. There were rules and regulations to abide by, Quidditch, mysterious classes, and upper grades helping first years. The houses rise and fall together as a group.
The world building was done brilliantly. Having Harry Potter move from the muggles world to the wizards world was an excellent way to compare and learn things along with him, even as insignificant as the candy kids eat to something as important as wizards not being allowed to own dragons because the muggles would be able to spot them. The Forbidden Forest which surrounds a good part of Hogwarts, had some surprises of centaurs and unicorns and will likely be lurking with more strange, mythical beasts in the books to come. Speaking of candy, I know I can’t be the only one who wouldn’t want to taste any of those Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, i.e. ear wax and vomit flavored. Gross! I could go for a chocolate frog though.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was dark and mysterious with its disappearing staircases and doors. Having to whisper secret words to enter your house, while each door is guarded by a ghost, it all adds to this well-thought out setting. What kid or young at heart adult wouldn’t love this story. We owe it all to J.K. Rowling who has a wonderful gift for writing, but most of all she has the gift of remembering what it was like to be a child, with all the necessary details. Essentially, that is what makes Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone so infectious. After reading the last page, I can’t wait to start Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
J.K. Rowling sold 400 million copies of Harry Potter and when I hear that another book You-Know-Who has sold even more copies, frankly it makes me sick to my stomach. Rowling was working as a bilingual secretary and researcher for Amnesty International when she got the ingenious idea to write the Harry Potter series. After much life turmoil with divorce, the death of her mother and living with very little money, the Harry Potter series was finally published and the Harry Potter craze came and continues on. All the publications later led to successful movie adaptations. J.K. Rowling has recently written The Casual Vacancy a tragic comedy, her first adult novel, which has received very mixed reviews because of its quantity of despicable characters. Frankly, I find that intriguing, but as a whole, the reviews have mostly been good. Even though, there is talk of a project for it to be turned into a television series. The Casual Vacancy even made it on Time’s top 10 best novels of 2012. Rowling has also written Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch through the Ages, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which are all supplements to the Harry Potter series. Check out the video below of Rowling reading one of my favourite scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry goes to buy his wand. There’s a little Q&A at the end too. Happy reading…..
Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Genre: Fantasy/Childrens/Young Adult
Published: June 1997
Edition: Bloomsbury Harry Potter Collection Beautiful, sleek, black books in a nice box that looks similar.
My rating: * * * * 1/2
Favorite quote: “Not a scar, no visible sign…to have been loved so deeply, even though the person that loved us is gone, will give us some protection for ever.” ( Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, p. 321)