on 9 July 2006
If reading this review, I assume you belong to three types of character. You are either
a) Wondering whether you should buy this book DESPITE the hype and want to know if it is as good as it's rumoured to be
b) You may have read it in the distant past and are lightly skimming a review to see if you want to obtain a copy
c) Bored and reading the reviews in case you find an opinion you dislike in a review and can comment on or simply want a fresh look
Well, whatever you are, "a" "b" or "c" and I assume the majority will be "a" I am going to recommend this book.
I always maintain that in most cases, if the book is well-written and has an okay plot line whether it's a good book or not is entirely up to the reader. And in a lot of cases, the first Harry Potter book is a good book. Below I attempt to outline the main reasons I think it is:
1. It is well-written and funny. J. K. Rowling has an inescapable wit and charm that permeates her books. The detail and intricacy cannot help but be adored and her level of observation reminds you in part of another literary giantess, Jane Austen. (Albeit in a modern guise for those of you who insist Jane Austen's genius can be compared to none.)
2. The imagination that is drawn into it is astonishing and you realise the level of intelligence this woman possesses to have created such a complex, diverse and yet intensely loveable world.
3. The morals are perhaps the main reason (and this fact becomes more relevant as the series progresses) the whole good overcoming evil concept is immensely gratifying. Indeed, you may observe that Harry is one of the truly good characters of the series, devoid of any malice.
4. The pronounced humanity. Harry's confused grief at his parent's death, and in further books, other significants, strikes a chord in many hearts. It makes it a book to treasure.
Whether you will like this or not, I don't have any control over but if I retain the ability to sway you in a direction, I hope it's positive because despite the hype and despite the pretended paganism it is a fantastic novel.
on 18 April 2005
Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone is a classic book that has become legendary in its short existance since being published.
Rarely, it has to be pointed out, does this happen such is the measure of this fine book and a credit to its author who i and many others are greatful to for toiling away to create this extraordinary feat of literature.
As well as gearing people up for the following chronicles of Harry Potter, The Philosophers Stone stands out remarkably strong in its own right and would be celebrated just as much should it have been a stand alone book.
One of its many qualities is that it is such an enjoyable read and that it endures after repeated readings.
Also, despite its theme of witchraft and wizadry its characters are very much grounded in reality, to the extent that it is easy to relate to and identify with their experiences. For example the suffering Harry goes through by having to live with the Dursleys, as well as the conflict he encounters with Draco Malfoy and his stooges, not forgetting also the sentiment and loss Harry expresses over seeing his parents in ' the mirror of erised '
The Philosophers Stone is indeed a book of adventure but a very human adventure incorporating the classic tale of good versus evil.
It is a pleasure and a joy to be with Harry as he takes his first tentative steps into the realm of being a famous wizard, as he becomes familiar with his new fascinating life and as he becomes acquainted with his friends and foes.
Each aspect in the book is memorable, leaving an indeliable impression, like when Harry first meets Hagrid, when he takes his first trip to Diagon Alley and then every experience that unfolds once he arrives at Hogwarts. I make particular reference to the tense and climactic finale where an act of bravery and sheer cunning highlights great things to come from Harry, and his friends.
With a legacy that has seen the release of a film that compliments the book in every way, upon finishing reading Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone it is a difficult choice to make as wether to continue on with the next installment or to re-read it once again.
on 1 July 2000
I laughed at my adult son when I found him reading Harry Potter. He said "don't knock it until you've tried it" and gave me the Philosopher's Stone for Christmas. I am now addicted and have bought and read them all.I am an avid reader of all types of literature but these are something else!
on 14 March 2002
I hope this will qualify as focused upon content, as the content of the audiobook is more than the story being told. American audiobook customers are offered a competent but lackluster reading by someone calling himself Jim Dale (come now, is that Joe the stockroom boy, or what?). His pronunciation is acceptable and his apprehension of the story sufficient, but his voicing of a not-short narrative provides no interest of its own and begins to drag down the proceedings. UK fans are blessed with direct access to what amounts to a brilliant performance in Stephen Fry's reading of Harry Potter's first four adventures. Any other performance this striking, with distinct characterizations and pace-conscious narration, would be likely to distract from the story. But Stephen Fry must be every bit the magician Harry Potter is, because he brings subtle detail and wild dynamism to every paragraph, and inhabits the story like a dragon inhabits his scales. It's a feat of alchemy equal to anything in the books. If I had to go down to the bank and change my dollars for Euros I would have this audiobook collection by overseas shipment.
My wife, the family's true Harry Potter fanatic, opines that Stephen Fry would have been ideal in the motion picture series in the role of Hagrid, the animal lover. When Hagrid regards the baby dragon he says, "he knows his mummy," and when Stephen Fry reads the line, I'm inclined to agree with her. When a job calls for whimsy and gravitas in equal measure, Fry has no equal.
on 14 November 1998
I bought this book for my nephew but having heard how good it was I read it myself. I was not disappointed - it's an excellent read and one of the more original childrens' books I've read for some time.
In fact I enjoyed it so much I've just bought the new book and I can hardly wait for the next one. There is no age limit to enjoying good books!!
on 16 January 2007
This is a review of the adult edition: I do not know how much it differs from the children's one.
After watching the first four movies I finally decided to have a look at the book to see things at their source, so to say, and found it satisfying.
The first point I wish to stress is that the first movie is a more than adequate rendering of the book: some of the plot has been changed but the atmosphere is just the same. Where he movie clearly surpasses the book itself is the visualisation: Ms Rowling has no outstandin talent for -or is just not interested in- the settings while the scenographers of the movie clearly have, plenty of... Hogwarts and the other minor locations, which are so very much alive and impressive in the movies, are rather dim in this first book.
As it is well known (this is the 500th reviews... no attempt at originality therefore) the author had the brilliant idea of mixing the depiction of a typical British institution that has already been source of inspiration for hundreds of works such as public schools with the love for magic and fantasy stories that was budding at the time.
Apart from this (a this that earned its author so many millions of pounds I cannot begin to think about) there is nothing outstanding in her book: the writing is neat, at times witty, the plot straightforward, characterization consistent, but there is no trace of genius in all these pages: we are not faced with a new Shakespeare nor with an irresistible entertainer: we have a clever story (clever, not honest: there are many cunning devices here) that flows unerringly to its end providing a fair amount of satisfaction.
An outright flaw is one I needed a little time to grasp: style inconsistency. It seems to me that Ms Rowling started writing with a children's story in mind but later her true inspiration, which is a much darker one, overtook her pen giving birth to gloomier paragraphs. I love dark fantasy, I really do, but this continuous shift between two different attitudes is not pleasing nor show a complete control of writing skills.
I am buying the following books to have more fun and hoping the author has improved in time.
on 10 November 2001
So, this is how it all began.
As a general rule, the first book in a series can sometimes be a bit slow. So much characterisation, so little time. But with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling manages to subtly weave together the characterisation of Harry, Ron and Hermione and still leave time to add elements of plot into the mix. Of course, the real action doesn't begin until you have gotten some way into the book, as would be expected - you can't just rush him to Hogwarts in a couple of pages!
And this is what I love about the Harry Potter books. Everything, from the characterisation to the colour of the decorations, is meticulously crafted. JK Rowling offers so vivid a picture of Harry's world that I hardly need to do any work at all - just sit and let the images she creates surround me.
As the beginning to the series, the book nicely sets up the key characters of Harry, Ron and Hermione and also introduces us to the other players in the book - the weird Professor Quirrell (Defence Against the Dark Arts), the slimy Professor Snape (Potions), the strict Professor McGonagall (Transfiguration), the zany Madame Hooch (Flying) and, of course, the eccentric Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, as well as Harry's principle enemies, Draco Malfoy and his lackeys Crabbe and Goyle.
With this book, JK Rowling has opened up a world of magic and adventure that even Muggles can't resist - as I can tell from just reading both mine and my brother's Christmas list! Harry Potter clothes, boxed sets, soundtracks, computer games - and most of all the movie dominating our screens this Christmas.
All I can say is, 'Woohoo!'
on 25 June 2000
J.K. Rowling seems to be the printed version of Steven Spielberg--and she can't seem to miss! And refreshing it is to see a series of "children's literature" become so succesful--owing to its page after page of exciting delights! In Book 1 of this incredibly successful series (financially and otherwise), we find probably the most famous 11-year old in the world--Harry Potter!
We meet young Harry as the ward of some very repulsive relatives (aunt, uncle, cousin), who clearly detest Harry (they make him sleep in a broom closet!). It does not take the reader long to sympathize with Harry. And then--something magical happens. He is visited by a representative of "the other world" and is invited to attend Hogwarts, a school for wizards and witchcraft. Suffice it to say, Harry is permitted to attend Hogwarts and there the fun--and adventure--begins! Of course, Hogwarts is not without its villains, secrets, and "good fellas"! Harry proceeds to "learn the ways" of wizardry! Harry's destiny seems clear--that he is to follow in the footsteps of his parents, who, unbeknownst to Harry for the past 11 years, were wizards themselves. Exciting adventure after exciting adventure follow--and we are introduced to the sport of the century Quidditch, a soccer-like game where players compete on broomsticks. Under all the hoopla, of course, is the "secret of the philosopher's stone"--the principle plot concern here!
Harry's--and the readers'--adventures have just begun! Already three in this series have been published, with the long-awaited fourth set for July! I can just imagine the frenzy when Book No. 4 appears! I can hardly wait!
on 16 January 2000
I bought the first book for my then-seven year old son, thinking that we could enjoy them together. Although he is a wonderfully capable reader, I didn't know whether he would be able to sit down and read such a large volume. Well, within one chapter I was dismissed and banished from his room, where he stayed until finished! I had to play catch-up to be able to discuss it with him. We have since had a lot of fun reading the first three books to one another. We purchased them to keep....the school library has 6 copies of each book and the waiting list is 50+ long FOR EACH TITLE! IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!
A word to anyone who has a concern about the "witch" content of these books. (This was a rallying point for some U.S. fundamentalist religions which did not want members' children reading the books). Don't let your children miss out on these stories because of hearsay....it simply isn't true! Rowling's stories are fiction, they are not a blueprint for becoming a witch any more than Star Wars is a blueprint for becoming a space-travelling Jedi! These stories are wonderfully moral, and provide numerous opportunities for talking to your children about fair play, courage, loyalty, responsibility, the obligation to do good....the possibilities are endless! I'm thrilled that this generation of children has a worthy talisman of literature that I am certain will remain popular for as long as there are books! But, Jo, could you maybe, just for me, do what the wonderful Malcolm Saville did with the Lone Pine books and let us have TWENTY volumes instead of just the seven??????? Thank you so much for this wonderful series.
on 2 August 1999
A friend of mine has been trying for months to get me to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but I refused to read it, insisting it wasn't the type of book I would would enjoy. Afterall, witches and wizards were just some of those things that can't happen and I never really liked books about the "impossible." However we made a deal where she would take me to our favorite restaurant if I'd read Harry Potter. So, I unhappily began reading the first chapter, half expecting to find that the book was a good book after all. But, it seemed a rather slow start that was boring. Same thing with the second chapter. Somehow I managed to get to the fourth chapter and I was surprised to find that somewhere along the line I'd gotten interested in the story. I read on, growing more and more interested as I read. The characters that seemed so dull and boring at first were now blooming into real characters! I found myself changing some opinions I started with. Hermione had seemed like such a know-it-all type of person at the beginning and by the end I was starting to like her. Her vast knowledge really helped Harry and Ron. Hagrid turmed out to be a friend to Harry and his friends. The story had a marvelous ending that only a brillant author like Joanna Rowling could have created to be fitting to this exceptional story. Some people have written reviews saying that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone doesn't live up to all the hype surrounding it. That's simply not true. Harry Potter may very well someday be a classic, like Charlette's Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Besides knowing that this book really was great, I know one more thing. I got the better end of the deal with my friend: Now I will get to go to the restaurant AND have had the opportunity to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. :o)