By: J. K. Rowling
Book Review By: Alex Frank
Perhaps it seems a little funny for me to even attempt to write a book review and synopsis for this very much-loved book. Some might even say I’ve joined the party a little too late in the game for anyone to care about a book review, but written below is why I chose to produce one anyway. Please feel free to skip the synopsis. You undoubtedly already know what happens. If you don’t, please feel free to join the tardy party.
Harry Potter is a young ten-year-old boy who has never known magic, friendship, or the love of a family that cares about him. He has lived a boring and mistreated life in a cupboard under the staircase in the Dursley’s house on Privet Drive. His Aunt and Uncle dote on their repulsive child, Dudley, while making sure to keep Harry out of their lives as much as possible. He has never been anyone special, at least, not to his knowledge.
But in a hidden world entirely different than his own, Harry is famous. And when a letter arrives (or rather many letters) telling Harry he is to be admitted to a special school for witches and wizards, Harry is shocked. He has a whole new life awaiting him along with a hidden danger he never knew existed.
Why did I choose to write a book review on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone so long after the craze caught on? Well, quite frankly, I owned all the books and never read a single one until now.
I feel like it’s practically a crime to have not read Harry Potter by now given that my generation is the one that grew up with the series. I’ve seen all the movies and even read The Tales of Beedle the Bard but had never actually read the original books. I’ve decided to change that. But don’t worry; I will not judge a book by its movie, though I think the movies are very well made. In the end, it wouldn’t make much of a difference on that front.
I was surprised at how much I actually liked the book. I didn’t know if I would enjoy picking up the series after I already knew what happened to all the characters, but I do like J. K. Rowling’s style. There is also something to be said for trying to find the differences between the book and the movie. While the movie kept pretty close to the book, I enjoyed finding the parts they changed or took out because it made me have a better understanding of the story. The characters have also become far dearer to me then they were previously. I used to get annoyed by everyone talking about Harry Potter all the time, but now I see why they do.
I am also partially glad I started the series late because I think it allows me to have a more objective look at the books. I didn’t grow up reading them and thinking J. K. Rowling was the best children’s writer of the late 20th/early 21st century. Then again, funny enough, I grew up reading the Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo. It cracked me up how similar their characters and stories were. Both are about children who go to a strange school for special gifts, the school has a lot of secrets, the main character is always getting into trouble, and the children are sorted into different groups with different colored capes. Perhaps that’s what caught me. It reminded me of things I did read during my childhood and made the characters that much easier to relate to. It’s by no means a perfect comparison, but I feel these series share multiple similarities.
One thing I felt was interesting about each chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was how Harry always seemed to be going on some mini adventure that kept him jumping around all over the place. But each new discovery Harry had was completely relevant to the main story line. They all tied into the ending.
I also couldn’t help it when I would be reading a familiar scene and all of a sudden the movie would pop in my head. I was seeing the characters and hearing them say their lines word for word. Perhaps that ruined my experience of picturing everything with my own imagination first, but I think it made it more enjoyable. Especially with the Quidditch scenes, I had all the CGI magic pictured in my head that made the book more interesting.
I’m sure I would have still loved the book even if I hadn’t ever seen the movie, but I never would have been able to imagine everything in as great of detail as Hollywood portrays.
Talking about the story now, I do question this. How on earth did a couple first years have enough know-how to get past spells and enchantments professional witches and wizards put in the path to the sorcerer’s stone? I read the book, so it’s all there. But I was just surprised at how easy it seemed to be for them. I was expecting some long trek, but given that this is the first book in the series and they don’t know a lot yet, the story is sure to get more complicated as it goes. Everything just seemed to work out for Harry and his group too easily, though. But I also need to remind myself of this one fact; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a children’s book. And, for that, I give it five stars. Definitely worth reading and I am officially a fan. J. K. Rowling is immensely creative and gave her audience something they desperately needed…something new.
Overall rating: 5