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The Philosophers Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Book 1 - J.K Rowling
Member Name: dawnymarie
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Book 1 - J.K Rowling
Date: 07/08/12, updated on 18/08/12 (117 review reads)
Advantages: It's written by J K Rowling - she knows how to tell a story
Disadvantages: Why did it take me so long to get around to reading it?
Why read this one?...
What tempted me to read this book? Until recently I had not considered reading this book, I had seen all of the movies because my daughter had insisted that they were so good I had to do. I have to admit to finding them enjoyable but liked the later ones better as the characters were older. I made the decision to read the series, by J K Rowling, after it was highly recommended by a favourite author of mine - Mr Stephen King. I know what he likes in a book and felt inspired to read this after his endorsement. I was almost put off again when my daughter handed me the book and I saw the cover artwork as it didn't appeal but I had made a decision and I stuck to it.
Harry Potter is less than ordinary and struggling to live with his aunt, uncle and cousin within their rules. It is clear that he is under the feet in this household and his early years are spent miserably - to them he is nothing special and never will be. So it proves a disappointment when Harry is headhunted by Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft - something that uncle Vernon had swore would never be allowed to happen. Having endured almost ten years with this muggle family Harry looked forward to a new home and good times at Hogwarts and sure enough there will be plenty to be thankful for - but dark magic and an evil enemy have other plans for Harry Potter and it will become evident that he is not safe.....anywhere. Will he be tempted by the dark lord or does he have the courage to resist and live as his enemy at this young age?
I'll send you an owl...
From the first page of this prose I felt like curling up in my seat to immerse myself in the tale and not stop till I had finished. It felt magical and comforting to be reading the words penned by J K Rowling - and finally I see what all the fuss has been about.
Of course I liked and empathised with young Harry Potter from the off - how could I not when he was left in a bundle on the doorstep of his estranged aunt and uncle. I had spent some time with this muggle (normal human) family prior to Harry arriving and knew that he was in for a rough ride. His aunt and uncle made no attempt to hide their dislike of him and even though they had a spare bedroom they had Harry sleep under the stairs in a cupboard! Even though this was a horrible place for our hero to begin his life it made wonderful reading - packed with humour and wit it had me giggling out loud. My favourite times at that house involved Dudley, their son - he is overweight and hugely spoiled and still takes things from Harry at every opportunity. He and his two friends decide that there role in life is to make Harry unhappy - they are horrible. One scenario sticks in my mind which says it all as regards how the Dursley's (aunt and uncle) see Harry - when the boys were to attend a high school Dudley was proudly parading in his all new private school uniform and in contrast they were attempting to dye some of Dudley's old, large, clothes to send Harry to the local state comprehensive in! There was humour here as the dye stank but at the same time I felt so sorry for poor Harry.
The prose is fast paced and every page is crafted beautifully - just enough description to give you a good idea of locale and surroundings, personal effects and lifestyle. Thank goodness for that as with this including a huge castle (Hogwarts) I feared that I may be bogged down with reams of detail that is another reason for avoiding reading it. The way Rowling puts information across means that you can work with her - she gives you something and your imagination can easily achieve the rest, a child would be in their element.
It is not long before we are on the platform of the train station looking for nine and three quarters - what a unique concept that is, just brilliant. Harry by now has all his wizarding stuff which includes an owl, Hedrig. It is at this platform that he will meet one of his best friends - he doesn't know it yet but Ron Weasley is destined to be by his side. Ron is a likeable character from the off too and it is while they share a carriage on the old style train that they begin to develop a friendship - this is all very new to Harry as everyone prior to this has always avoided him for one reason or another - the other being Dudley who promised a violent end for anyone who befriended Harry. Hermoine Granger introduces herself in her very organised and prim way along the journey as she attempts to help Neville Longbottom (don't you just love the name) find his toad. Hermoine comes across as a 'know it all' and a bit of a bossy madam and even though she obviously irritates the boys, Harry and Ron, I am not put off her at all - perhaps because I can relate to her, I like to be organised and I suppose I saw a bit of her pushy bossiness in myself too - though only a bit!
One of my favourite characters is Hagrid and because I have seen the movies I think of Robbie Coltrane in the persona. This huge beast of a man, who is covered in hair to the point that you would struggle to see his eyes, has such compassion and you get the feeling that he loves Harry very much already. He is modest, messy and rather clumsy - at times he can put the fear in students - but he is just lovely. I like the dialect that Rowling has employed for this character too; it makes him come to life all the more. Along with this character comes yet more humour and that makes him all the more appealing.
Of course there needs to be some villains of the prose and in Draco Malfoy we have a fine specimen of nastiness - though he is only a boy and as such he is easily manipulated by others and easily frightened. He is a thorn in Harry's side and the friction between the two is believable and at times entertaining as once more a touch of wit enriches the prose. Professor Snape clearly dislikes Potter and Harry is aware of his constant sniping and sneering looks - he is very wary of Snape and for good reason it would seem.
There are plenty supporting characters in this creative prose and all of them are of interest - they are still two dimensional in this first novel but that gives me all the more reason to read on and find out more about them - I will enjoy seeing the meat appear on their bones. There is more than enough to be going on with.
It is known by Harry, Ron and Hermione - our three musketeers by now as they have formed a stronger union and friendship and even started to care about each other - that a stone that provides an elixir for everlasting life is hidden somewhere in Hogwarts (The Philosophers Stone) and if this gets into the hands of the Dark Lord Voldemort it would spell trouble in capital letters TROUBLE - real trouble for Mr Potter....do or die kind of trouble. The plot runs through the book seamlessly and everything fits into place like a good mystery should - nearing the end of the book I was racing through the pages even though I have seen the film and know what happens! That says it all about how this prose unfolds - there is wit and good pace throughout and then the heat gets turned up a little more! A masterful finale, successful and fulfilling conclusion and a reason to read on in the next instalment - at the same time I found it a really comforting read, a joy. I am most impressed.
For children or adults this is a magical read. I feel like I have read something very special here. The way J K Rowling writes is engaging and here she has crafted a tale masterfully, this is flawless. Harry Potter is a very likeable character but at such a young age you know that so much more is to come regarding his personality and traits. He clearly has the makings of a courageous young man and a fine wizard - I want to read more and see how she achieves this. Before we arrive at the spectacular destination of Hogwarts I thoroughly enjoyed the treat of life with the Dursleys - this was pure genius, the wit is just brilliant and that part of the book is remembered fondly. I would read those pages again without hesitation. Ron and Hermione bring a great mix of banter as they grate each other and I grew to like both of them for different reasons - Hermione is a woman after my own heart with her capable nature and organisation skills - she is a tenacious and courageous young woman. Ron is lovable young man who shows loyalty and isn't afraid to do battle - I like him. Hagrid is seated in my heart before all others - you will know/see what I mean when you read the book - I would want him on my side in any scuffle, he is a huge bulk of a man and would scare you senseless if you got on the wrong side of him - but inside he is a real softie, a big man with a huge heart. There are the usual villains that are necessary to rock the boat and that comes in the form of young Draco Malfoy - he has the potential to be developed into a real nasty piece of work. Snape (Professor) doesn't like Harry so he had best watch his back - but is all what it seems? A weird vision of Dark Lord Vordemort was most creative and this is the one to steer clear of - he is evil...beware Harry! What a tale, a superb first novel and I cannot wait to read more....it is easy to recommend this one.
Published on Ciao
Summary: All about Harry Potter - he's a wizard you know!