Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #1
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on September 1998
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pages: 309
Read From: 8.8.14 - 8.9.14










SYNOPSIS
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.

Review

Cover Blurb? Yes or No? I have always been a fan of the original Harry Potter cover art. Even if it does have a character impersonator on the front. I don't mind artistic character impersonators; it's when a photo is superimposed on the front that I hate it.

Characters: What can I say about the characters of Harry Potter that hasn't already been said? Not much, so I guess I'll just say who I liked and who I didn't. Harry was actually the one character I was the least interested in. He's not a bad protagonist, but he wasn't among my favorites. Ron is a little too pessimistic, but I still liked him. Hermione is a girl after my own heart. I've always been an "obey the rules" sort of person (unless those rules are trying to make me do something that goes against what I believe is right, of course), I was a real stickler about my grades in college (but I was lax about studying; never really needed to do much of it), and I've been called bossy (but only when I'm pushed to be bossy, or my grade is riding on other peoples' work). Hermione has spunk, but she doesn't have a chip on her shoulder. Dumbledore isn't in Sorcerer's Stone all that much, so I don't know how I feel about him. It's nearly impossible to not like Hagrid, or the other Weasleys. It's probably because I already know the whole backstory behind Snape, but I naturally really liked him (I think even if I didn't know where his story goes, I would have liked him anyway). But I think we can all agree that I would end up in Slytheran, so it's no surprise, right? Speaking of Slytherans, I haven't forgotten about Draco Malfoy - the other important "minor" character. He's a fun little punk to hate, but I don't actually hate him. He's a little brat, not quite as openly petulant as he is in the movie (which I liked), and an adorable little horror.

The Romance: There isn't any in this one!

Plot: Do I really need to sum up the plot of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for anyone? Probably not. Everyone knows that it's about an orphan British boy who finds out that he's a wizard. His parents were wizards, and they were killed by the evil Lord Voldemort, who was the worst wizard to ever exist. But Harry didn't die, for some bizarre reason, and Harry is forced to live with his normal (Muggle, mundane, whathaveyou) aunt and uncle, who - in the tradition of British stories - are horrid and treat him worse than awful. And yes, he's got a horrid cousin, too. The British know how to write dreadful relatives. Anyway, Harry then finds out on his 11th birthday that he's a wizard when he's invited to attend the prestigious Hogwarts School of Wizardry. And off he's whisked, where he finds out that he's actually quite famous - for being the boy who lived; who somehow defeated Voldemort in his own way. At Hogwarts, Harry makes friends with Ron - a kid from another wizarding family - and Hermione - a witch with Muggle parents (and therefore not a pure-blooded wizard). Together, the three set out on their first adventure, which may or may not herald the possible return of Lord Voldemort (spoiler: it does). So I have finally buckled down and started reading the Harry Potter series. I didn't when it first came out because I was dead set against fantasy, and then I didn't when I got older because it was so massively popular, and I don't do popular. But I finally decided to after watching the movies - and enjoying them. Yes, the books are better - at least, so far they seem to be. If the world of Hogwarts wasn't so interesting, and if this wasn't written with the common British wit and charm, Sorcerer's Stone would have been a bit boring. It takes a long time to get to the actual plot, and there's lots of stuff that happens in between that isn't necessarily important to the plot. But the Author uses those moments to build her world even more, so it takes a moment for you to realize that nothing of import is really happening. And if the Author can do that, awesome. I had a lot of fun learning about the Hogwarts world, and I look forward to learning even more about it. The bigger plot wasn't as impressive for me, of course, because I have already seen the movie - and have had countless friends tell me all about it.

Believability: So massively not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. J. K. Rowling has the classic Roald Dahl, Neal Gaiman - that is, British style of writing. It's funny, it's charming, it's slightly odd, it's entertaining, and you can't help but laugh your socks off. It's hard to describe, but you Readers who also read British literature - you know what I'm talking about.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Harry Potter is, I'll admit it, entertaining. I probably would have liked it as a kid if I hadn't been so against fantasy. It's British and I love the British children's literature style. Did I absolutely fall in love with the world? No, but I enjoyed it, and I can see the appeal for those people who did fall in love with it.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, any age!

Others in the Harry Potter Series:
1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
5)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
6)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
7)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

11 comments:

  1. I certainly do know what you're talking about with the British children's literature :) One of my favorite examples is C. S. Lewis's beginning of 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.'

    As a Christian, do you think the 'witchcraft' in Harry Potter has any relation to the real occult, or is it simply fairytale magic? I have not read the series, but have some interest in doing so.

    I hope you have a lovely day.
    Abigail Leskey

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    1. The British have a certain style when it comes to children's literature; it's quirky, humorous, slightly dark, and really captures the world through a child's view. I wish more authors could write like that. :)

      As far as the first book goes, the magic is very light and whimsical. I have heard the others get much darker as the characters grow up. When it comes to stories involving witches and wizards, spells and charms and curses, I have a hard time ever labeling it as Christian. There are definitely occult "things" - it's unavoidable when writing about themes like this. But is it encouraging children to pursue occultish ways? No.

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    2. Dear Mara,

      It's rather a dream of mine to someday produce American books to equal British ones in charm :)

      Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question!

      Abigail

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    3. It's one of my goals as well, Abigail. :) Not children's books, but young adult fiction that appeals to both adults, middle graders, and teens alike. :)

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  2. The magic in this series is related to fairytale magic. J.K Rowling is a Christian, although she didn't reveal that fact until the series was finished because she felt it would make the ending obvious. There are definitely Christian themes littered throughout the books and they're not hard to find. Hope that helps!
    Catherine B.

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    Replies
    1. J. K. Rowling is a Christian?! Where did you hear that? That is very interesting, especially considering how much Christian communities have disparaged her books. Well, you find out something new every day!

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    2. Thank you! It was very kind of you to reply, and your reply is indeed helpful.

      Abigail Leskey

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  3. Here's a article talking about it:
    Once you realize she's a Christian, you can see the themes appear throughout the entire series. You just need to know where to look.
    http://www.mtv.com/news/1572107/harry-potter-author-jk-rowling-opens-up-about-books-christian-imagery/

    Catherine B.

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting! I'll have to keep an eye out for the Christian themes, now that I know that.

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  4. Congrats on finally getting in on the hype! :D

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. :) It's a fun series so far.

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