“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
The story where it all began…
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is J. K. Rowling’s first-ever novel. Originally released under the name “Joanne Rowling”, the author soon adopted the pen name “J. K. Rowling” in order to sell more books. Published in June 1997 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, it was later bought by Scholastic Corporation who released the novel in the U.S.A. with the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
It was an instant success. Labelled as “hugely entertaining”, “richly textured”, and “all the makings of a classic”, it was the start of J. K. Rowling’s fame. The novel won numerous awards, both from the British Book Awards and the American Library Association Notable Book. To this day, it remains in the top five best-selling novels of all time.
The story follows a young boy called Harry Potter, an orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle on Privet Drive. Estranged from his family for the “freakish” things he can do, Harry dreams of being accepted and loved. On the night of his eleventh birthday, however, he gets his wish. Hagrid, a huge half-giant with a heart of gold, brings Harry into the wizarding world where everyone seems to know his name. He attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft of Wizardry, finds out the truth about his parents’ death, and finally makes real friends. But the danger that upheaved his life as a baby has not yet passed, and soon it is up to Harry to stop a powerful device from falling into the wrong hands. But doing so will lead him down a path of danger and mystery to unearth a secret more terrifying than he could ever imagine.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a magical tale about friendship, good versus evil, and standing up for what’s right. It is without a doubt one of the greatest stories ever written.
- The wizarding world is complex and incredibly detailed. Every aspect of magic is counted for, from what they eat, what they wear, and even how they talk. It is difficult to find a fantasy novel that has every possible aspect covered (The Hobbit comes to mind), and as a result, this is one of the best well-developed worlds that I have ever been drawn into.
- Although labelled as a children’s book, the story teaches many valuable life lessons that everyone needs to learn. It teaches you to be kind and accepting of others, to always stick up for your friends, and that sometimes family isn’t always blood. It builds empathy in the reader in a way that not many other stories are able to achieve.
- Considering that this novel was published during the 90’s, there is a pleasantly large selection of female role models to choose from. Hermione Granger, Professor McGonagall, Ginny Weasley, and Lily Potter, to name a few. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was one of the first children’s novels that told girls it was okay to be smart.
- There are a number of plot holes throughout the story. The Weasleys are an ancient pureblood family, however, they’re somehow poor. There’s inconsistency in the prices of magical items; a wand with unicorn hair costs seven gallons, while unicorn hair by itself costs ten. And the Philosopher’s Stone itself has no reason whatsoever to be at Hogwarts.
- There are dozens of clichés throughout the novel. From the wise old mentor to the orphan with magical powers, everything is incredibly predictable once you sit down and think about it.
- Harry Potter himself is the definition of a Mary Sue character. He’s rich, popular, and has no faults. He even defeated the most powerful dark wizard of all time despite being a baby and doing absolutely nothing. He’s automatically the best at quidditch despite never having flown before. The bad guys can’t touch him because his mother’s love is so strong. And he succeeds at everything he does without any training whatsoever.
Overall, I’d give J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a four out of five. It’s an incredible story about compassion and bravery that teaches many crucial life lessons while still remaining highly entertaining.
I’d recommend this novel to absolutely everyone, as it is a staple piece of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It’s a story that everyone should read at least once in their life and once you do start, you won’t be able to put it down.
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