Review – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

People who know me fairly well are probably stunned and shocked right now. I’ve resisted rereading the first few books for so long, even in the cause of finally finishing the series, because I got sick to death of the hype. I had my first Harry Potter books just before the hype really started, but I was also already into Ursula Le Guin and Tolkien at that point, so I wasn’t quite so impressed or swept up by it. It doesn’t help that I’ve also studied the books two or three times, starting with an exhaustive read through during my A Level English class. It really doesn’t help that an older review of mine, which is fairly critical, gets a lot of trolls and snark and even one or two people saying I can’t possibly have a degree in English Literature if I don’t like Harry Potter.

I mean, I get it. I was seventeen, I was a brat, and I was sharpening my tongue on something you love. But I’m twenty-five now. Let it go.

So anyway, I finally came back to Harry Potter by way of a HabitRPG challenge to re/read all seven books, and obviously, the only place to start is the beginning. So here I am. I still have a lot of my old reservations; there’s a lack of subtlety, a lack of originality, and Le Guin still wipes the floor with Rowling. And Malfoy is still eerily similar to Jasper in some ways. But if I put that aside and just try to enjoy it for the magic, and for the nostalgia of reading it for the first time, it’s fun. There is a lot of world building — Quidditch, the history of the wizarding world, the types of spells, how Hogwarts works, etc, etc. It captures some of the really ordinary stuff about school (everybody has their Malfoy, right?) and some of the really cool stuff about fantasy and imagination, and sometimes it’s really funny and clever about the types of people Harry has to deal with (Malfoy again, also the Dursleys).

So yes, I am enjoying this now for what it is. We’ve got Le Guin, we don’t need Rowling to give us the same kind of story; here we have a main character with plenty of room for us to identify with him, a humble guy who isn’t too cocksure about his powers, an Everyman. An ordinary boy who through love and friendship can be a hero.

Okay, yeah. I get the appeal. Now sit down and shush until I’ve finished the series (yes, Ruth, I’m looking at you, not a word).

Rating: 3/5

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4 thoughts on “Review – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

  1. I can tell you right now, I am so so so glad my GCSEs and A levels were all focused on Shakespeare and Dickens, because otherwise I would have thrown the HP books out of the window and lost the fandom. (And honestly, there were a few years there where HP fandom was the only thing keeping me going.)

    Now I wonder if I should do a reread myself. I’ve been avoiding the books for a while, worried I wouldn’t like them as much anymore.

  2. I’ve loved the Harry Potter books since I first read them and I was 30 at the time! Now I could rave forever about how much I love these books, but I would never go and troll someone who doesn’t like the books. I hate it when people can’t respect other people’s opinions on the same books-it’s childish and pathetic!

    Even if you were slagging them off something bad, I’d look at your review and then get on with my life! I can’t understand this mentality of spending all your Goodreads time arguing with people because they don’t like your favourite book. I have other books to read and better things to do with my time than get irate about a book review!

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