Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #1
Published by Scholastic
Pages: 309
Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy (YA)
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Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter. (from Goodreads)

There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

I could take you through many parts of my life that pertain to why it's taken me this long to read this book. I could talk about how my parents wouldn't let me read it. Then I could mention how I felt it was going to be too immature for me. I suppose that could be the right time to say that I've seen all but the last movie. I could say many, many things, but I think I'll just say: I read it.

You know what? It was fun. I'm willing to judge a book based on what it is, not what it's not - and this book surprised me with how much I enjoyed it I doubt that there's anyone out there that is interested in this books that hasn't read them yet, so I'll just quickly touch on some of the major points in this book.

Bravery & Friendship: These were both common threads throughout this book. My personal favorite was the budding friendship that forms and it was also nice to see true bravery cropping up in an unexpected place - and actually treated as such.

Eleven: Seriously, this isn't what eleven year olds that I've been around act like. I also really like the way the characters that it wasn't so much that the adults didn't believe the kids - which happens way too often in books for youngsters.

Fantastical World: I quite like the world that was created - yeah, the magic seems a little odd at times (just how, exactly, do those spells work and why are only some people born with that talent?) but I love the way all this is taking place alongside the normal, average world.

Quidditch: I'm sure it's difficult creating a sport from scratch. I don't think I'd ever be imaginative enough to create one myself. I do find Quidditch interesting in theory (and I was so glad to have it a little more prevalent in this book than the movie) however, I dislike the idea of any game where ninety-five percent of the game is irrelevant. Really, all that seems to matter is which team catches the snitch. I'd love to know if there was ever a case of the loosing team catching the snitch. Now, the muggle quidditch that is based on this fictional game makes a good deal more sense to me because the team that catches the snitch only gets thirty points instead of a hundred and fifty. This seems to me to be a case of wanting Harry Potter to be too much of the hero in every little thing.

Good vs. Evil: This is the only true complaint I've got about the book - even the series to date (though I've only read the first two). I think that the lines are too clearly drawn. I would love to see some sympathetic villains or at least villains that have a reason for their actions. I love it when stories have a bit of a grey morality and I think this series could pull that off wonderfully. (Of course, I'm not sure it would want to do that, considering most YA and MG books are pretty straightforward with heroes and villains.)

Book vs. Movie: As this book satisfies one requirement for a challenge I'm doing - wherein I read a book whose movie I saw first - I thought I'd give a quick overview of how they are different or the same.

First, I'm sad to say, my favorite quote from the movie wasn't from the book. It's where Hermione says something about 'getting killed, or worse, expelled' and Ron responds with 'she needs to work on her priorities'. Honestly, I loved how that was in probably ever single trailer I saw for this movie. But, while those exact words weren't in the book, it still has echoes of those thoughts.

Really, I think that this was probably one of the more accurate movie adaptations. (Of course, it's been ages since I've seen the movie, so my memory is a little fuzzy.) The movie seemed to stay pretty accurate, but the book - as expected - was simply more fleshed out on most things. Also, the order that things happened was a little different in the book than the movie. I think they actually introduced the characters quicker in the movie than they did in the book. (I also think the challenge to find the sorcerer's stone (whose name I wish they would have kept to the Philosopher's Stone) was a longer process in the book than it was the movie. It was also one of my favorite parts of either.)

Final notes: Fluffy is still adorable. Simply adorable. And: I had no idea that Dumbledore was quite so...crazy. He seems almost normal in the movie compared to his book counterpart.