Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Pub Date: 1997
My Rating: ★★★★★
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“Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter ‘H’.”
Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!
HOW MY LOVE FOR HARRY STARTED?
I first read Harry Potter book back in 2000 when it was published in Poland. Both first and second book were published that year, and because my brother was reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone I started the series with book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and absolutely loved it! After the second book in the series, I read the first one and learned how it all started. Since then each publication of new Harry Potter book was eagerly anticipated. Most of the releases of polish translations were around my birthday, in January, so the book was always my gift. My dad always drives to town in the morning to pick up a newspaper, and on the Harry Potter days, the first thing he did in the morning was going to a bookstore and get my long-awaited Harry Potter book. Happy memories.
A letter?’ repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. ‘Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name!J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Chapter 1
It is extremely hard for me to review a book such as Harry Potter. There is so much love around it, so many happy memories from my youth. How I can now judge the story based on the story itself, how can I judge J.K. Rowling’s writing style? Also, this review is not intended for people who may not have yet read the series, and this review will convince them to read it. We all read it, I will find it hard to believe that any book lover in our book blogosphere has not yet the story of Harry Potter! With that, I will not try to review the story and avoid spoilers, I will let it all out and tell you what I think and what emotions took over me while reading this story.
Let’s start with the beauty of the first chapter, where we get the glimpse of the mysterious world of magic. We meet Harry when he is just a baby, oblivious to the world around him and the tragedy he just survived. We meet people who soon will become our favourite characters in the books and movies, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid. But before all that, we first need to meet the Dursleys, Harry’s Muggle family, who seem quite boring, and cartoonishly evil types. Good thing we meet them on the most unusual day, when the cat is reading the map on their street, owls flight everywhere even though it’s daylight, cape wearing people are speaking with excitement about Harry and You-Know-Who on the streets. I wish I could re-read this book without any knowledge of what will happen next, without knowing what this whole buzz is about. The author does such a great job of showing us the importance of Harry and intrigues us with the other, magical world.
I used to think that the first book in the series was too childish in comparison to the next books, but I’m taking it all back. It didn’t feel simple or immature at all, it was a perfect start to the series. Especially that a big chunk of the book is focused on exploring the world of magic, all its rules and oddities. The is still plenty of action, but for me, the driver behind the plot is the magical world of Hogwarts.
The final scenes, when Harry meets Lord Voldemort for the second time are perfectly adequate to the book. In comparison with future majestic fights, it all might be simple. However, the teamwork required from Harry, Hermione and Ron to overcome all the obstacles to get to the final chamber, are quite heartwarming. The bravery, logic, use of knowledge, sacrifice and pure friendship is something I’d love to see in all young adult books. It was amazing to see each of the Trio contributing their best skills in a determined fight for good and justice to prevail.