Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling (4.7 Stars)

“Bless my soul,” whispered the old barman. “Harry Potter… what an honour.”

The thing about your favourite childhood/teen book is that you read it so many times, and in that period since you last read it, you’ve built it up in your mind, making it better and grander, that reading it again will unavoidably end in disappointment. But even though it’s not quite what my mind made it out to be over the years, it is one of the best books I have ever read!

The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn’t make them happen.

Another factor is if there is a film version that you like watching equally as much as liked reading the book. You start losing what happens here and what happened there. Shortened. Lengthened. But never exactly the same. It’s so confusing.

“Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery and –“

Here are the things I will always love about Harry Potter:

I mean, the inventiveness? The first time reading this book you cannot really appreciate its greatness, inventiveness, originality and, especially, its foresight. Because only when you know how it all plays out, you can find these little hints in book one that will get answered or explained in books two, three, four, five, six, seven.

There are (almost) no delay tactics or unrealistic coincidences. It’s one smooth read without any reader annoyance.

The ghosts are brilliant individuals, especially Peeves. I wish there had been more time to explore him, and them, and not only bringing him in when it was convenient. (As I said, almost.)

Things are neither over- nor under-explained. You get what you need when it comes up. Also, it might end quickly, but there are still a few pages towards the end of the book, explaining what has happened and giving answers.

The friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione, even or maybe especially the beginning.

But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

Here are the things that were slightly unwelcome surprises in rereading the book:

I felt rushed. Introducing the wizarding world and a whole year at school is just more material than could ever fit into 332 pages. Especially after Christmas, things were summed up too much, making the adventure development a bit unrealistic. They knew just about everything, but had to wait until after exams and the end of the school year for the big finale. And, especially looking at the first chapter, it started out in so much detail.

I need more detail! I want to know it all!

I never liked… I mean, I was endlessly happy about it, but I never liked the 50, 50, 60, 10 maths task towards the end. That was the only, absolutely horrible coincidence in the book that I could never live with. It was forced.

The two trolls in the books. How come none of the teachers (except one) realized that?

(After the introductory first chapter,) The narration switches into general third person, and away from Harry’s direct third person, twice. Whenever they are playing Quidditch. Why? I mean, I get why, but I don’t like the inconsistency and only for about half a page each.

And finally, let me give you some Dumbledore-ish wisdom (because my pen kept insisting on writing them all down):

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

“What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrel is a complete secret, so, naturally, the whole school knows.”

“You did do the thing properly, didn’t you.”

“Fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself.”

“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

“It was agony to touch a person marked with something so good.”

 

“It’s almost as if he thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could…”

It’s my evening read. There’s nothing like going to bed with the world of Harry Potter on the mind.

Rating

Idea: 5 Stars
Characters: 5 Stars
Realization: 4 Stars
Writing Style: 5 Stars
General Rating: 5 Stars
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

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