Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
*Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - US Title*
By: J.K. Rowling
Published By: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 1997
Page Count: 223
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Middle Grades/Young Adult - Fantasy
In what world was I ever going to rate this as less than 5 birdies?! This is THE BOOK that got me back into reading when I was a grumpy teenager. Of course, I didn’t want to read it – it was a children’s book and I was way beyond that. In fact, a friend had to basically kidnap me and barricade me in her room until I’d read the first chapter. Then followed me swallowing the biggest piece of humble pie ever when I asked to borrow the book.
Why does this suck me in so much? Harry was just an ordinary boy, and then this whole world opened up in front of him, showing him that the life he thought was going to be boring would be anything but that. I love how the magic of Hogwarts was woven into my everyday world. From that point on, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t imagine being magical in some way. I still feel like that now, all these years later as a thirty-something! I just love going to the Studio Tour in London as I get that same sense of excitement, from Mrs Weasley’s magical knitting needles to golden snitches, and copies of magical textbooks to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
I love the words that J K Rowling uses - she is still the only author I can remember reading that used the word ‘besmirched’. She has an excellent grasp of the English language, and she creates fabulous new words, much like Roald Dahl did; in fact I think these books are a natural literary progression from loving his work as a small child. Both authors take underdog characters and give them a way to be winners in a world where anything can happen.
I love the rich tapestry of characters that J K Rowling built up – even the caretaker’s cat has me emoting, agreeing with Ron that I want to kick it... and me, an animal lover! It is nigh on impossible to pick a favorite character, because the minute I do I remember another, and another that I love. I do have a soft spot for Neville though, as I know many do.
What really drew me and locked me in as a forever fan though was the story. In a similar way to Nancy Drew, the Famous Five, and other young detectives, the three best friends have a mystery to solve. While reading it makes perfect sense that they are the ones who should solve it because adults they try to warn push aside their concerns because they know better. This might be the essence of success here – adults always know better, and for a child to know better and succeed in a relatively believable way is a powerful thing for a young reader. I loved how wrong the three were though, when it came down to it, and what an excellent twist! Luckily, it all ends well with an amazing feast, a triumph for Neville (who really needed that encouragement) and one in the eye for Malfoy too.