Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: YA fantasy
I have never read any Harry Potter books, nor have I watched any of the movies. The only thing I know about Harry Potter is what I’ve picked up over the years from references, movie clips, overheard discussions, etc. I am planning to go through the entire book series, and I have just finished the first one. Even though these books/movies have been out for a while and are really well known, I’ll still warn in advance that my reviews will likely contain spoilers.
I also plan to watch the movies, even though I was recently told that the movies were garbage. The same person also told me that I “just have to get through the first couple of books,” because after that, they get better (for clarification, he might come across kind of mean based on what I’m saying, but he was recommending the books, because he really likes them; he just had some caveats). However, I think he and I have a different taste in books, at least to a degree, because his brief reasoning for the later ones being better was because the first few were written for a younger audience. He said that as the characters aged, the writing was written for an older audience as well. I have always enjoyed things that are meant for teens or young adults though, even as I’ve gotten older.
With that in mind, I can honestly say that, though I saw what he was insinuating, about the book being for a young audience, it didn’t bother me much. I was a bit put off by the early chapters about Harry’s family, not just because of how terrible they were (which was obviously on purpose), but because of the way in which they were described. Definitely very silly and over-the-top. And some of that carried on throughout the book. However, I enjoyed the way the story unfolded all the same.
I appreciated the fact that, even though Harry was the main character and was obviously special in some way, he still had major limitations, which kept him from being too perfect to be real. He excelled in one main area, and I was rooting for him to do well as soon as he found that talent.
One of the things that bothered me the most was that the story seemed to just amble most of the way through the book. The main story goal was brought up now and then, but didn’t seem to take much precedence. Even when the characters spoke about it as if it were important, it didn’t feel all that important most of the time. I think that is mostly because much of this book was world-building. I have done 0 research about how this series got started, but it certainly reads as if Rowling knew it was going to be the first book in a longer series, and kept the story goal simple, so she could focus on setting up Hogwarts and the wizard world.
My other biggest issue is in the actual writing. I’m sure this is just the grammarist in me, and most people wouldn’t even notice, but the amount of commas where there should have been periods, or at least semi-colons, was really noticeable to me. I’d rather not notice those things, but I do…so it tends to take me out of the story.
One thing I’ll be interested to see as I go through these books is the way my perception of what might happen could be affected by the knowledge of the storylines that are floating around out there. People don’t worry nearly as much about avoiding spoiling something this old, and I don’t blame them. But because of clips or gifs I’ve seen from the movies, and things I’ve heard about the books, I didn’t really question the story I was being fed while reading. I have no real way of knowing if I would have had my own theories or suspicions as Harry and friends blamed Snape the entire book, but I definitely believed that he was the bad guy the entire time. Thus, I was shocked when it turned out he wasn’t.
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!