Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.
Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.
My Rating: 8/10
Pre-reading thoughts: Here’s a story of a young girl walking in a bookstore. The girl was just minding her own business, ignoring the books that weren’t Narnia or The Series of Unfortunate Events related. She was a very picky reader, still is, but her eye caught the cover and her feet stopped. It looked cute and right up her alley, but when she took it to her mom, her mom just shook her head and put it back on the shelf. “I don’t want you reading about wizards,” her mom had said. The girl relented and hung her head the whole drive back home. The next few times she want to the bookstore, she would pick the book up again and ask again, but her mother never budged and so years passed and the girl had forgotten all about it, or at least the inclination to read it dwindled into nothing at all. That was until a few months ago when she got the first four books as a birthday present. A month later, she finally read it.
I was stoked to FINALLY be able to read this book. It turned from a childhood curiosity to a teen aged need to fit in to an adulthood strive for finally understanding what everyone was talking about on September 1st of every year. To also finally feel that disappointment when I too didn’t get a Hogwarts letter.
(Spoiler Free) Post-reading thoughts: This book was exactly what I thought it would be… GREAT! It was cute and fun and I can understand why it had lived on for so long in so many people’s hearts.
What I liked:
- Characters: Harry, although was a little annoying at times, was a good protagonist who made it easy to root for him. His best friends, Ron and Hermione were also a big reason why I enjoyed this book so much. Even as secondary characters, they had so much personality and weren’t just dulled versions of the main character or only their for comic relief. I loved Draco and Neville as well and i’m excited to get to read more about them. To read more about all these characters.
- Setting: Jk Rowling does a beautiful job at describing things. I felt like I actually lived in this wizarding world and at a few points, made me even want to eat those candies with disgusting names. Although I would love to go to Hogwarts with it’s creepy ancient feel, but I don’t like cats so…
What I didn’t like:
- Characters: Dumbledore (more about this in the spoiler section)
- Plot: I felt the flow of the story was off a bit. At some points everything was happening too fast and others drug so slow that I almost put it down. I recognize that this entire book is a literal year at school, but some things that were focused on, I just didn’t see the reasoning behind doing so.
(SPOILERS BEHIND LINE)
Although I really enjoyed this book, there are a few reasons as to why I only rated it an 8 out of 10. Here’s a more in depth look at my two points above that I couldn’t explain why I didn’t like without spoiling some major plot points:
- Dumbledore: I don’t understand everyone’s fascination with this man. He manipulated Harry and allowed him to risk his life over and over again (at the age of 10) without any interference. He knew what was happening to him and what he was doing and yet… did nothing about it. He put two other children in danger in order to show Harry that he is the “chosen one” and he didn’t care at all. Harry and the gang didn’t get into any trouble for disobeying the rules (even if they did save the school from doom, they are still children who could’ve died!). Another thing about Dumbledore that I just did not like was the fact that he took the house cup from Slytherin (forgive me please if I misspell the house names) and gave it to Gryfindor regardless of the fact that they had spent all year EARNING it and as far as we know, fairly. Their banner had already been up and they were already celebrating. I felt like this was a HUGE jerk move and showed his true character.
- Plot: The book’s pacing started out great, but then towards the middle, it slowed so badly that I actually did sit the book down for almost a week before finally picking it back up and finishing. It had too many unnecessary parts from what I can tell by having only read book 1: Hagrid’s dragon and the quidditch games just to name a few. The maze scene also went too fast and I wish she would’ve slowed it down because it got confusing and I had to go back and double check that the characters did what they said they did. The twist ending where Snape was not the one going after Harry was nice; However, I thought the whole Harry being able to beat a grown man WITH an extra, much evil face attached to him was very unrealistic even in a children’s fantasy story.