Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone by J.K. Rowling

Book Synopsis

What did Harry Potter know about magic? He was stuck with the decidedly un-magical Dursleys, who hated him. He slept in a closet and ate their leftovers. But an owl messenger changes all that, with an invitation to attend the Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches, where it turns out Harry is already famous.

Bec's Rating

Bec's Review

Imagine you were an ordinary orphan boy, despised by your family who begrudgingly took you in. Then one day everything changes with the arrival of a mysterious letter. Not only is Harry a wizard, but he is famous throughout the wizarding community. Soon he is on his way to Hogwarts where, with his two new best friends, he has many after hours of adventures, plays Quidditch, and tries to find out just what the Philosopher's stone is, and who is trying to steal it.

The story of Harry Potter is one that is fast becoming a classic of our time, and it is only fitting that, with the final film making its exit from an extensive box office run, that I turn to the root of the movement and review the first book.

I fell in love with this book as a child, it's story perfectly suited to inspire the mind of an 11 year old who could only hope her Hogwarts letter would one day arrive. 11 years later and I'm still waiting for that letter, and still reading the book. This book, while written for children, is perfect for any age, for while J.K Rowling writes for children, she does not in any way write down for them. Many parents have read this book to their children, only to later have to fight these same children for the opportunity to read the latter books first. Rarely is there a book that so greatly crosses the divide between adults and children in this way.

As we follow Harry through his adventures during his first year of Hogwarts, we learn some important lessons along with him. We learn that even the most ordinary person can be extraordinary, that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes, and it is important to stand up for what you believe in and what is right, no matter the danger you face. Through Ron and Hermione we learn the value of friendship, and that sometimes our best friends are not the wealthy self-important people, but the boy from a large family without much money to his name, and the girl who is smarter than anyone you know. This girl, Hermione, teaches us that it is okay to be smart and a bit of a book worm, even if others tease you about it.

These lessons are all important ones today, as much as they were 10 years ago, lessons that children and adults alike can learn while engaging in a journey into the wizarding world of Harry Potter. It is these lessons, the twists and turns of the plot, and the escape from reality into fantasy this book provides which makes Harry Potter a great read, no matter your age.

One of the things which may surprise new readers to the series is how well J.K Rowling employs the use of foreshadowing. On reading the further books in the series, you'll be amazed to find out just how much is hinted at from earlier books, including this very first book.

Further as the series matures, so too does J.K Rowling's language. While the first book is aimed for children, which may be enough to turn some readers off, as the books progress, so too do the intended age of the readers, making it a series that very much ages with the age of its protagonist.

Everytime I reread this book, I never fail to find some new scrap of information or foreshadowing that I hadn't found before. It clearly is a series for the young and old that can bring these two age groups together, and can be reread many times over.