Monday, August 08, 2011

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1)
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: June, 1997
Paperback: 310 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 10/10

Description: Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley—a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry—and anyone who reads about him—will find unforgettable. For it's there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter.

My Thoughts: For those who don’t know me and my reading habits, I never re-read. My philosophy has always been that re-reading is a waste of time when I have so many books waiting to be read for the first time. I first heard about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone back in 2001 when the first movie was preparing for release. To be honest, I had no interest in reading the book and couldn’t understand the hype. I mean, come on! It’s a children’s book! What’s the big deal? All of my online book groups were raving about the books and now were happily chattering about the upcoming movie. So I gave in and borrowed the audio book from the library. I figured that listening to the book would be killing two birds with one stone. I could continue to read the books from my monstrous to be read mountain and listen to this book during my daily commute. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that much and I figured if the book didn’t work for me, I wouldn’t be out anything or have wasted valuable reading time, right?

The audio blew me away and my now ex-husband who hated to read jumped all over the books too after we watched the first movie. I quickly went after all of the audio books and was so thoroughly entranced and entertained by Jim Dale’s talented narration of the books. Even with the creative differences between book and movie, I was hooked on the movies too.

So now, here we are ten years later. The last Harry Potter movie has been released and the Harry Potter saga is complete. No more books, no more movies. So, why, you may be asking would I want to re-read the books? I mean, reading, as in turning pages, not listening to audio. I broke my biggest rule about reading and re-reading because I wanted to experience the magic of Hogwarts and Harry’s world all over again. I went out and started purchasing the paperbacks (hardcovers are too heavy to carry around) and began back at the beginning.

One very important thing I have learned is that the perspective between listening to an audio book and reading the book is greatly different. I listened to the unabridged edition back then so I thought that it would be the same as reading the book. I was greatly mistaken. Maybe it’s the way we process information we are receiving, maybe it’s my memory, maybe my mind wandered somewhat during the original listening but reading the book this time felt like I was reading it for the very first time! I didn’t think it was possible to feel that way when re-reading a book.

J.K. Rowling does a marvelous job of creating a world so unlike ours but so similar in many ways. The witches and wizards in Harry’s world are not that unlike us when you think about it. They have the same feelings, fears, hopes, dreams and disappointments. There’s a social hierarchy in their world, much like ours. There’s a political structure in their world too, complete with a governing agency, ruling officials and laws and regulations. They go to school, hold jobs, get married, raise families, get old and die. They love sports and entertainment as well. There’s good and evil in Harry’s world too.

Harry is your typical boy for the most part, but having never known his parents has left him missing out on that most important relationship. He’s being raised by his mother’s sister and her husband, living with them and their bully of a son, Dudley, but not really wanted. I got angry all over again at the way they treated him and at his living conditions. One thing that amazed me then and still does is why the Dursley’s put up such a fight to keep Harry from going to Hogwarts. They made it abundantly clear every day that they didn’t want Harry, barely tolerating his presence in their home. Going to Hogwarts would get him out of their home and ultimately their lives. They should have been kicking up their heels in joy when the first letter arrived. Perhaps, I will never understand why. Fortunately, the lack of bonding and family love does not turn Harry into a sociopath, bent on destroying lives.

Harry adjusts remarkably well to his new life and the excitement of it all. Once again, I found myself wishing I could go to Hogwarts. Going away to school in a castle with moving staircases, ghosts, magical creatures, and interesting characters may seem like a lot for an eleven year old boy to deal with, but Harry does. Finding out his parents were actually murdered by a very evil wizard who also tried to kill him is a lot to take in, as well, but Harry soon learns that those events are a part of who he is and the world he is now a part of.

I wanted to savor each page of the book, but I couldn’t put it down. Even knowing what was coming next, I discovered things I had missed before or perhaps forgot. I had forgotten what a strange and unusual girl Hermione was in the beginning. I had forgotten that Ron is very brave. I had forgotten how troublesome Peeves was and how stern Professor McGonagall could be.

So whether you are a fan who loves to re-read this series or someone who is reading it for the first time, embrace the story fully and enjoy the ride. It is an adventure not to be missed.

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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at Happy Reading! :o)