Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter #1

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard.

For many readers, Harry Potter doesn't need an introduction. But for those who don't know him. The Harry Potter series was first published back in 1997 through 2007, spanning seven volumes. I recently started to listen to the audiobooks and I was once again reminded just how awesome these book are. Even if you are an adult. 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first installment in the series. In the beginning of the book you see how baby Harry is placed on the doormat of his aunt and uncles house. Aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon and his cousin Dudley. Of course there is something big to it as Hagrid comes with a flying motorcycle to Privett Drive, where the aunt and uncle of Harry live, Hagrid is a giant of a man and was set to retrieve Harry on order of Albus Dumbledore. Harry being a small baby that he is here, has already gone through a lot. His parent have been murdered by Lord Voldemort, when he turned on Harry he couldn't kill Harry and the result is that Harry bears a lightning patterned scar on his forehead. After the drop off of Harry, life skips a few years right until Harry is a wizarding age. In growing up, his cousin Dudley hasn't made it any easier on Harry, he is constantly bullied. But one day relief comes for Harry as posts comes for him from none other than Hogwarts. Now first Harry doesn't have a clue as to what Hogwarts is... He never knew that he was a wizard. The Dudley's have always kept him in the dark about what Harry's parents really were, they have gone through many a lengths but luckily for Harry, Hagrid once again saves him. And off is Harry to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With Harry having brought up in the normal world (the muddle world), he doesn't have any equipment what so ever and thus Hagrid takes him along to Diagon alley a place in London that has everything a wizards needs. Here Harry literally watches he eyes out as a completely new world opens up for him. But also the rumors start to make their way, "is that really Harry Potter".  Equipped with all the books he needs, a special wand and the owl he has called Hedwig, Harry sets off to Hogwarts. The only instruction he got was to depart from platform 9 and 3/4 well, there isn't a platform with that name to be found anywhere in the train station. Here he meets up with the Weasley family who help him to get on board. During the train ride to Hogwarts Harry makes his first real friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. And thus a truly new chapter for Harry begins. After getting only settled for a few minutes its time to get sorted. 

There are four major houses present at Hogwarts each named after one of it's founders: Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff, Godric Gryffindor ans Salazar Slytherin. After hearing a lot of worse about Slytherin, Harry prays to himself to not get placed into Slytherin and again luck is on his side and his placed in Gryffindor together with his new found friends Ron and Hermione. Now it's time to start learning magic. Subjects that Harry and the other first years learn are Transfiguration by Professor McGonagall, Potions by Professor Snape, Charms by Professor Flitwick, Herbology by Professor Sprout and Defense Against the Dark Arts by Professor Quirrel. Harry couldn't have wished a better life. He has a great time at Hogwarts and gets along with most teacher accept Professor Snape who seems to dispise Harry with whatever he does. And Draco Malefoy a Slytherin boy who bullies Harry and his friends. Just as when Harry has finally settled down his past starts to catch up with him... Over the course of the year strange things have happened at Hogwarts, the Three Headed Dog Fluffly they ran into (as well as Professor Snape had a nasty encounter with it), the Dragon that was send to Hagrid and lets not forget the artifact that Hagrid retrieved on Dumbledore's orders from the Wizarding Bank Gringotts. Years ago Lily Potter managed to safe Harry from death by sacrificing her when Lord Voldemort cast the death curse on Harry and was heavily weakened. But it seems that he is on the move again... There will be many a fruitful year for Harry to come.  

Where this book excels in for me is the way that J.K. Rowling shows the various characters. Take Harry Potter himself for example, never having known that there was a magical world is thrown in, head first, in it all. Everything is new for him and he has a lot to learn. At home he was always bullied and this has given him the feeling that he is actually worthless, which comes to show more than once. He didn't have any friends, but now with Ron and Hermione on his side the does gain that all important confidence once more. He accepts who he is and how other are, take the relation with one of his housemates Neville Longbottom who well isn't smart, but Harry supports him no matter and this is I think something that more people should see. Treat everyone how you want to be treated.The same goes for the Weasley's the family that showed Harry how to get onto the Hogwarts express. They don't have a lot to spare and Ron has everything second or even third hand. Again here Harry doesn't look down upon them but actually look up to them because what they have is an amazing family and friendship and that is worth more than money can buy. Well of course this doesn't count for Draco Malefoy of course he is just a jerk. The characterization of Draco is also spot on, I don't think you could paint a more annoying, slimy creature then that. More than once I was cheering for him to just get a punch in the face. 

When it comes down to world building I have to give J.K. Rowling a lot of praise for what she has achieved in the small volume that is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. From the halls of Hogwarts with the food appearing on the tables, the sorting hat scene, the quidditch patch, the ghosts, the painting that move and a lot more. It is all so dynamic and as a tonne of atmosphere to the book. I can safely say that this is one of my top worlds that I wish were real. After reading this Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone I don't know who doesn't want to be a wizard! 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone introduces the reading a very richly imagined world with magical flying around your ears. The muggles (the non-magic users) will look their eyes out when they find about what else is possible. In the short but very strong prologue J.K. Rowling gave a ton of information about Harry's past with Lord Voldemort but along this adventures in this book a lot already became clear on why he is so important. The ending of the book does indicate already that Lord Voldemort hasn't died and that certain precautions might be required to be taken... With having read the first book once again, I have found my love for this series back again. There are some many feel good moments in this book and I don't really care if they are a bit of clichés, it does my heart well to see Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione grow up once again. 


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