I swear to your God or whatever you believe in, I never expected one day I would read a Harry Potter book. My little brother (8 years younger) grew up with this, not me. I’ve never been a fan of young adult books, not even when I had that age.
So why read it now? Well, it happens that Aneesha is a huge fan of Harry Potter and I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Both sagas are seven books and she hasn’t read any Dark tower either, so we decided to start some kind of reading challenge. She would read The Dark Tower, I would read all the Potter books.
I recently finished The Sorcerer’s Stone and I thought it would be nice to share some thoughts on it. I hope she agrees to come here and review The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower first book) too. Quick preview: she hated it.
About J.K. Rowling’s writing
The book is obviously aiming for a child-to-teenage audience, but independently of this, it’s a well written and compelling book. It uses a language simple and direct, and the author narrates the story with a really good pace. The book gives you the feel that there are things happening all the time, specially after they reach Howarts. By the way, I was surprised to see that almost half of the book is spent before that.
In general, I think J.K. Rowling’s work is really good, and I can easily see how she captivated a whole generation of kids and teenagers.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I have to admit that it’s been a bit difficult for me to detach the characters from the actors. At the time, I took my brother to see all the movies and whille reading Snape’s lines I was unable to forget the great Alan Rickman. I could almost hear his voice while reading.
Talking about the characters, I was quite surprised with Harry. The kid I had seen on the movies is quite different to the one pictured in the book, where I think he is a bit more asshole-ish. His relationship with Draco Malfoy is product of how both behave, and at no moment Harry is kind or nice (yeah, I know Draco is worse).
The rest of the characters are more or less as I remembered. Hagrid is the not too bright but in some way adorable bearded giant. And Ron and Hermione are the perfect complements to the protagonist, with great chemistry between the three of them. The rest of the characters have a very brief appearance and I guess they will be developed further on the sequels.
Magic world, (almost) magic-less wizards
It surprised me how the book introduces a new magic or mythological element almost evrey chapter. It doesn’t create much new, but one chapter we are talking about trolls, the next will be reading about a dragon and after that we will be riding a centaur while we look for a unicorn. This brings a lot of variety to the whole and it keeps the reader wondering what will come next.
My main issue is that wizards are pretty unmagical. What I mean by this is that magic itself, the one we expect from the wizards, is almost unseen through the story. And I feel there are moments when it gets a bit silly. I can understand that the kids just started to learn, but to see how the ‘bad guy’ (with the help of Voldemort himself) is unable to pass an oversize dog… I’m sorry but I don’t buy it. I understand that for the purpose of the story, it has to be this way, but I can’t understand how an expert wizard can’t overcome certain things.
Because of the movies, I know this type of situation is a constant on the series and it is by far what I like the least. I also found funny that at some point a character says that Harry is able to see things that other can’t, and that’s why he is so good at Quidditch, but he is the only one wearing glasses. I know is a silly thing, but it is there.
Quidditch & Voldemort
To end this little pseudo-review of mine, I just want to point out a couple of things. I don’t see the point of Quidditch. For me it feels like an unnecessary element on the book and it seems that it exists with the only purpose of show how ‘special’ Harry is.
And when it comes to talk about Voldemort, I’ll admit that I’m quite fascinated by the character. I hope in the rest of the books the author goes deeper into his past. His role in this novel is not too big, but enough to make him interesting and intriguing. And by the way, the final twist is very well written, and I doubt many people could predict it.
To summarize, I think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a good book, that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is not perfect, there are some minor things that I don’t like here and there, but I would recommend it.