S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.
I’ve done it; I’ve finally done it. I’ve reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! The first (and last) time I read this particular novel was in 2005. Back then, I was attempting to read through the series but got tripped up with The Goblet of Fire. I tried reading it five different times, always made it about halfway, then crashed. By that time I had entered college proper, and it was during the infamous hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and a meningitis outbreak, so there were a lot of serious distractions for quite a while. I’ve never seen all of the movies, but I’ve always wanted to try and give the books another shot. Having (somewhat) recently greatly enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I figured, why not now?
The book is written for someone much younger than me (considering I am now thirty), but the content is still enjoyable. There’s some rough patches, but they’re honestly to be expected as a story being told from Harry’s (a what, twelve year-old white boy who’s suddenly come into money and wizardry after being neglected and unloved his entire life?) perspective. The most aggravating part, for me, is the regular bashing of Hermoine for the first part of the book as “bossy and a know-it-all”, and this is likely because I recognized what they describe as her behavior, as how I was at her age. Their words hurt her, as they do me. I even had a nightmare last night reliving a few of the darker times I had trouble with this in my childhood! But they’re young and naive and they learn to overcome a lot of presumptions in this, the first book in a seven book series. If anything, what I walked away thinking was “Huh, a grown woman wrote a book that seemed like it was truly from a young boy’s perspective”. Not bad at all. It is a daunting task, to write for a group you are not a part of, honestly, and it was done marvelously.
The book is a steady stream towards the climax, whether or not the stream is diverting off-course for a moment or rushing headfirst towards the elements of the climax, something is always happening. More often than not, these things are magical, wonderful, and curious. We are to share Harry’s mystification as he goes through the curriculum of Hogwarts. This first book is the most magical, being the first to introduce us to the Wizarding World, to Hogwarts and Quidditch, to magical spells that levitate and transfigure and bind. To a being who should not be named, but seems to get named an awful lot.
Many things were created to make this world believable; infrastructure, shops, banks, currency, creatures, laws… And while I don’t remember the next few books, I’m certain the world is even more fleshed out. J.K. Rowling isn’t at the top of her game for nothing. In this book, my favorites are Hermoine and Neville, because they are overly concerned with the fate of the Gryffindor House as a whole, unlike Harry and Ron–certainly not Harry. Just about everything he does jeopardizes Gryffindor from its chance at the House Cup, an award given to the House with the best overall performance by the end of the year. The fact that Neville is rewarded for his ultimate attempt at stopping his friends from getting into trouble makes me smile, because it is, in fact, a great deal harder to stand up to your friends than most are willing to deal with. A small, entirely necessary lesson for any age.
What do I like most about The Sorcerer’s Stone? Hmm… The climax is quite nice. It’s short and sweet, and ties it all up in a nice package. Harry has to rely on his friends to make it as far as he’s come, but in the end, holds out on his own against Voldemort, long enough for Dumbledore to interfere (and save Harry). The series of enchantments safeguarding the philosopher’s stone (or was it called sorcerer’s stone even in the US interior? I already can’t recall!) from being stolen are one good, final showcase of the different things that exist in this magical world. And that bit about Harry being protected by his mother’s love… I do scoff a bit at that, but in the Wizarding World, it makes sense. This is a world of charms and curses, after all. A mother’s love feels like it could be a very powerful charm, indeed.
If I recall, this is the shortest book in the series; they progressively become longer and longer. For the age group it was originally targeting, this is a good, non-discouraging book to get into the world of wizards as well as the world of reading, and for that I applaud it. I remember when this one came out, seeing kids who wouldn’t be caught dead with a book, were reading it at the bus stop every day. And that is a very magical thing indeed.
Interested in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? It can be purchased here.