2.14.2012

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #1)
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication Date: 01.01.1997
Harry hates living with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and their spoiled-rotten son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny closet beneath the stairs, and the entire family treats him with disdain. What's more, Harry keeps getting into trouble for making strange things happen - things he seems to have no control over. But then Harry discovers the truth about himself when a determined messenger delivers an enlightening message. It turns out that Harry's mother was a witch, his father a wizard. And not only is Harry also a wizard, he's a famous one! His survival of the attack by the evil wizard who killed his parents has marked him as a legendary hero - as has the lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.

Soon Harry finds himself attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he receives training in some magic basics, masters riding a broomstick, and discovers his incredible talent for a game called Quidditch, which is played in the air on flying brooms. And for the first time in his life, Harry has friends who care about him: his fellow students Hermione and Ron and a giant named Hagrid. But all is not rosy when Harry discovers his true destiny and finds he must once again face the evil one who killed his parents. His survival will depend upon the help of his newfound friends, as well as his own wit and powers.

It's easy to see why Harry Potter has caught the reading public's fancy. Not only are his adventures an entertaining mix of fright, fantasy, and fun, his triumphs over everyday adversities offer a heartening lesson to kids everywhere.

I'm sure everyone and their dog has already read Harry Potter, or has at least seen the first movie. You know the basic storyline, you've seen the characters, the costumes, the wands, and have probably heard a lot about the storyline. Maybe you've even read a few books that were influenced by Harry Potter. I have just read it for the first time (I'm not counting the time my 6th grade teacher read it to the class). I'm not sure what I can add to what has already been said, but here are my two cents anyway. Enjoy!


If there was one thing I didn't expect Harry Potter to be, it was funny. While I think this first book was lacking in some areas (I'll get to that), it was not lacking in humor.  I laughed through the entire book, and yet I don't think I have ever come across such natural, less-forced humor. Each character is equipped with their own sense of humor, making their jokes and sense of sarcasm very different from everyone else. I could actually tell each person by their sense of humor. I appreciate that, because I know a lot of thought went into creating each character.

Which brings me to my next point, which is that these characters could be real people walking around today, and I would not be surprised. This is the first book in the series, and I already feel like I understand the characters--or at least their reasons behind their actions. Those I don't understand, I am significantly intrigued about, wanting to know more about them and their actions in the story. I won't talk extensively about this (it's been covered many times), but I will say that J.K. Rowling did an amazing job creating them.

There are some things that keep me from absolutely loving this book, and one of them is one of my biggest pet peeves: telling, not showing, important parts of the story. Before I offend anyone, it's true that J.K. Rowling does a fantastic job describing the wizard world, and the things that go on there. The imagination she was able to bring out in my mind with  her descriptions of Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Gringott's and Quidditch, is just fantastic. What bothered me though, is that events the characters plan and talk about were often glossed over in a few sentences. I can't think of a specific example right this moment, but there were times when the characters would discuss an important step in their plans...and then the next sentence would be a quick line saying that they finished the step.

My next reason is one that I think is only a reason because I have seen the movies, and know the storyline. I just expected...more. I didn't feel the nail-biting, adrenaline-rushing, feelings that I did when I watched the movie for the first time, and that was kind of a letdown.

In conclusion, this is definitely a great book. I think anyone who hasn't read it yet, definitely should. I felt something while reading--like I was suddenly a part of something important. I look forward to knowing what happens to these characters (even though I already do, I want to know each and every detail). I look forward to experiencing the next adventures with them. And I'm pretty sad I did't buck up and do it along with the rest of the nation. I can't help but feel like I missed out on something big because I didn't.


Read this if:
...just read it! It's a must.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Clean read.






Purchase Harry Potter book 1:
J.K. Rowling:

18 comments:

  1. I haven't made my HP 1 post yet cause I'm kind of waiting for you but now I can start doing my mine. yay! Also, I didn't get that telling thingy but maybe because I've read this book so many times that my judgments are clouded already because I already know what will happen next. Nevertheless, lovely review, Penelope! I'm so glad you finally get to read it! And no worries about not being part of HP mania when it first started, because I believe it'll not end. And somewhere across the globe someone had just discovered the epicness of HP. :D

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    1. That is so true about someone else across the globe just discovering the HP epicness. It's such a timeless book! I can't wait to read your post!

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  2. I can't believe you haven't read HP before now!! Totally agree with you about the characterisation and humour, I'm half-convinced these are all real people! The books only get better and I really hope you enjoy reading the rest of them!

    The Cait Files

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    1. I know, right? I'm kicking myself for not reading it earlier. I look forward to reading the rest!

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed your first HP book! It's my favorite series. I love JK Rowling. She's a genius and awesome. Fantastic review!

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    1. Thanks Jenni! I am pretty sure that by the end of the series, it will probably be one of my favorites as well (or even my favorite).

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  4. Great point about the humor. It's such an integral part of the characters that I actually didn't notice it because it seemed so natural.

    Although I've read the books countless times for my thesis, I still enjoy reading them even though, as you say, there's no real suspense left anymore because you know what will happen. I think this proves that the books are really well written.

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    1. Very good point, Brigita. It does prove that they are very well written. When you can enjoy a book over and over, even though you know by heart, anything that happens, you know you've got a great book your hands.

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  5. If it helps at all, the original manuscript for this was well over 100,000 words. By the time it was published, it sat closer to 75,000. Her publishing/editing team wanted her to cut it to 50,000. She fought to keep things, but in the end, the story had to be severely condensed. By the time book #3 came along, they pretty much gave her room to do whatever she wanted, but the first two books have major weak spots as a result.

    I know she's said in interviews that her editor wanted her to cut the troll-in-the-bathroom scene, remove most of the obstacles protecting the stone and the entire scene in the Forbidden Forest. Think about what that leaves? And who knows what other similarly big, important scenes got cut or smooshed?

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    1. They wanted her to remove the troll in the bathroom scene? And the others you mentioned?! It definitely would NOT have been the same book if she had. I'm glad she kept them.

      Thanks for posting this! It helps put the book in perspective. I'm really curious as to what else was cut. I guess we'll never know!

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  6. I loved this book. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone kicked off a lifetime of Harry Potter love for me. But, now that you bring it up, parts of the book seemed rushed. After reading Gina's comment, it makes sense why. I never knew they made her cut her word count down by over half! The further in the series you get, the less the rushing happens.

    I'm the opposite of you (in regards to the nail biting bit). The books had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The movie left me wanting more. Especially since they cut out my favorite scene! It seems really insignificant to get upset over, but I really wanted to see Hermione do the potions/logic challenge leading to the first battle against Voldie!

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    1. Having now read it, I agree with you about that scene. I would have loved to see Hermione do the potions challenge. That was such a brave thing for her to do, and it really showed how smart she is. Having just finished the second book, I felt more nail-biting with it, than I did with the second movie. So many things were in the book that helped make sense of it all; things that didn't need to necessarily be in the movie, but helped explain things better.

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  7. I really wish I had time to re-read Harry Potter it would be very interesting to see after all these years if it still makes me fall in love like it did back then. I would say that by the time you get to book 4 you will start to notice a lot of plot elements that the movies just didn't have time for. Since the first three books are not bricks like the later volumes the movies did well with telling the entire story but this will chance once you get to the heavier books. Plus the thicker books are where everything really starts to come together. Personally book 5 is my favorite one!

    I hope you continue to enjoy this series!

    Thanks for the great review, I'm jealous I don't have time for this series right now

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    1. I'm taking it one book a month so far. I have the feeling though, that once I get into the later books and get into all those plot elements you mentioned, that I won't be able to hold myself to only one book a month.

      Not having read the books, I really enjoyed the movies. But my siblings who had read the books, went home disappointed after a few of them. So I'm excited to see what wasn't in the movies, and what else there is to know. :)

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  8. I definitely agree with your opinion on humour and characters in the book! I cannot really imagine this series without all the humorous bits and the fact that the characters are so real was one of the main reasons why I loved it so much, because I could imagine everything actually happening somewhere in the UK :).

    It's amazing that you liked the first book and are excited to read them all! There's never enough lovers of the series :).

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    1. Now I can totally attest to that! I want everyone to read these books. I should never have waited this long. :)

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  9. LOL. I think some dogs weren't spared by Harry Potter.

    And your on a Harry Potter Reading Challenge. I'll read all your reviews. Good luck, happy reading and welcome to the wizarding world.

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    1. Thanks so much! I am very happy to be joining the wizarding world. :)

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