I first began reading Harry Potter when I was eleven. Due to some unfortunate events in my life, I did not read past book two. However, just over three years ago I purchased all seven books and binge read them all about two years ago. Now I am back for a more serious reread of the series while I am buddy reading them with a friend. We will be reading one book a month so the final instalment will not be finished until September so, if you are interested in reading my reread reviews, watch this space.
Author: J.K. Rowling
Age Classification: Middle Grade
Release: June 28, 1997
For those who do not know, Harry Potter is the story of a boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs of his Aunt and Uncles house until a bunch of letters delivered by owls arrive and turns Harry’s world upside down. Harry is a wizard and the letters are from Hogwarts, a magical boarding school.
It is obvious Harry has been mentally and possibly also physically abused by the Dursley’s since he was left on their doorstep as a baby. He does not believe good things can happen to him and he also seems to abuse the freedom provided to him at Hogwarts by disregarding school rules put in place to keep students safe. While he is not outright rude to many people, he is also not overly caring of others unless it directly concerns him. I remember my eleven-year-old self loving and wanting to be Harry or one of his friends but, reading back as a young adult, I am not sure I would want to be caught up in all the trouble the trio seem to find themselves in.
Speaking of the trio, on the reread it is also more evidence that this is not the healthiest friendship group to be a part of. Ron Weasley seems to latch onto Harry just as much as Harry latched onto him. It is a co-dependent relationship and it seems that one would not know what to do without the other. Then there is Hermione. The boys were horrible and rude towards her, especially Ron, but then she decides to lie to protect them and become friends with them. Sure, everyone wants friends and Hermione and her know-it-all ways were struggling to make some, but was settling for the kid who picks on you and people who rely on you to pass their classes the best idea?
I was also less sure of the teachers at Hogwarts during the reread. Minerva McGonagall is probably the most consistent teacher that is given focus in this book as she treats every student the same regardless of their house or who they are. I question why the great Albus Dumbledore would allow a teacher, such as Severus Snape, to be so hateful and target students he did not like while obviously favouring students from his own house. I also do not know why any of the Hogwarts staff, including half-giant Rubeus Hagrid, did not take Harry and his friends aside and simply explain what was going on once they realised these three first-year students had started figuring out about the philosopher’s stone. Had they explained they were keeping it at the school to protect it and listened to Harry’s concerns, perhaps they could have set his mind at ease and prevented them from continuously putting themselves in harm’s way.
With the exception of my new found disappointment in the trio and questioning of the Hogwarts staff, the book was amazing. I had forgotten how much was packed into a rather small novel and was surprised at what details I had forgotten or had been replaced with not-so-accurate scenes in the movie. There was also a lot of foreshadowing that I would never have picked up on during my original reads because I had not read past book two before. It was amazing that there were details that basically gave us answers to future questions, but unless you have read the series before you would likely miss them. It does make the reread more interesting and proves that the series was brilliantly planned way back in 1997.
The book works well being written in third-person but focused on Harry because we get to follow his journey without being stuck in his head. The world building was continuous and felt natural being described from Harry’s POV as he would have never seen any of these places before. I liked that the story appeared to be both character and plot driven in different parts and that the progression from one major focal point to another felt natural. It is clear that the book was written with both younger and older audiences in mind as it is simple enough to be enjoyed by middle graders but also complex enough to appeal to adult audiences.
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆
I loved this series the first time I read it and, so far, I still love it. Hogwarts will always be the magical home away from the muggle world we live in. I cannot wait to read Chamber of Secrets next month!
When did you first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone?
Which is your favourite Harry Potter book?
Until next time bibliophiles!