Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

ISBN: 0439554934
ISBN 13: 9780439554930
By: J.K. Rowling Mary GrandPré

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About this book

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.

Reader's Thoughts

Peter Meredith

In my gradual return to books after my harrowing experience with Mockingjay, I've built myself up to Harry Potter:Five stars to a book that is what it is and isn't what it's not. Make sense? This is a middle school children's book and when it's read as such it's great. I see people giving this one or two stars and I scratch my head in wonderment. Do they compare it to Shakespeare or Hemmingway? Do they read it as it was meant to be read or are they bringing snooty, intellectual baggage to the table. You are smart. We get it. You are all a bunch of geniuses—now try having some fun!

Elisa (Just a Hunch Book Blog)

I highly doubted that I would ever write a review for any of the Harry Potter books. Instead, I created a shelf called "seven greatest books ever" and threw them all in there, hoping that would be enough to display my immense love for them. After seeing Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows movie, I decided that I would kick start the re-reading process before the release of Part 2, so I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for probably the 15th time, and began to read. I realized part way through, that even if I didn't want to review it for its literary merit, I still had much to say about the book solely regarding how it makes me feel.At twenty three years of age, the book is still everything that it was for me when I was only twelve. I remember seeing it in a book order (remember those?) in the sixth grade and putting a star next to it to take home to my mom. My mom, not wanting to buy me a book I'd never read, denied me my request, adding that it looked pretty silly anyway (the joke was on her though, she came to love them too). Anyway, the next year, my cool uncle (don't we all have one?) decided he was going to buy them for my cousin and she was going to have to let me borrow them. So I began the Harry Potter books, and suddenly being twelve- awkward and unpopular, wasn't quite so lonely as it had always been. I dreamed myself right into Harry Potter's world; not in a dangerous, psychotic way, but in a starry eyed, childlike way. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were better friends to me than anyone I met throughout my junior high and high school years, which in a way is a bit sad, but I have no regrets.This was the first time that I've read Sorcerer's Stone since Deathly Hallows came out, and it inevitably made for a far more emotional experience than the first time around. What was once just good, innocent, fun can't exactly be viewed as such when you've seen the big picture. I literally burst into tears at the end of the chapter in which Harry and Ron finally take Hermione as their friend. Oh, what the heck? I'll go ahead and post the paragraph, in case anyone else is wanting to ride the high of that emotional wave:But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. 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.Ah! Knowing what they were in store for- years of utter devotion to one another made this moment so much bigger now than it had seemed at first. Either way though, it's a very moving moment. I love this book. I will always love this book. And I full intend to disown any future children of mine who can't appreciate it with me (I haven't decided as to whether or not that's a joke yet).


I wish this book had come out when I was young, I wish that someone had convinced me to read them when they first came out, and I wish I had read this series before I watched the movies...I wish..I wish..I wish...I wish I wasn't a Muggle.The day started off the same as any other day for Vernon Dursley- he picked out his clothes for work, got dressed, listened to his wife- Petunia- as she struggled with their son -Dudley- during one of his tantrums, grabbed his briefcase, kissed them both good-bye, got into his car and drove away from number four Privet drive. That is where the day took a strange turn...Vernon just chose to ignore it.He ignored the cat reading a map on the street corner outside his home. He ignored the people dressed in cloaks...He ignored the owls flying outside his window at work- and after some careful consideration, he decided to also ignore the whispers on the streets outside at lunch- mentioning the name Harry Potter, and the strange man that hugged him for no reason...If Vernon had been a different sort of man- he would have known life was about to change for his "happy' little family.The street lights on Privet drive flicker off one by one- and a group of four gather just outside the Dursley residence. Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hargrid, set baby Harry and a letter on the doorstep. For Harry Potter isn't just any child and must be kept safe. One day he will know who he is, and one day they will come back for him.First off I would like to thank my friend Stepheny- for finally being the one to give me that extra push I needed to give in and read this wonderful book- and I do mean PUSH. She was relentless, and now I know why! Anything I say will pale in comparison to her review of HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE- so I am going to link her review and let her words take over from here...https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...Thanks Stepheny! :D


I'm not going to comment on the literary shortcomings of this book, the cliches, the painfully long narrative, the fact that the characters will not think about an issue for months, but then suddenly it becomes important again. Smarter people than me have already said all this.What bothers me about the Harry Potter universe is its characterization of magic. Why is magic so easy in the Harry Potter universe? It's only moderately a matter of skill to use magic. Magic is mostly saying the correct word with the correct intonation and the correct flourish of the wand and boom! you've done something magical. If it were only for small things I don't think this would bother me so much, but the same works for more serious things, like killing someone.There is so much that is contrary to logic (and I don't mean science, I mean how reasonable people would behave) in the magic of Harry Potter that it drives me crazy. Why is the magical world so separated from the real world? What is their interaction? If magic works in the muggle world, what is preventing someone like Voldemort from completely taking over the muggle world? What is preventing any character from killing any other character by simpling saying the killing curse at any time? Human decency? Obviously there are a lot of characters in the books that don't have any. This never made any sense to me.I would like to draw a comparison with (and I'm sure people on a site about reading books will crucify me for mentioning TV, which is obviously incapable of being an art form) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Buffy, every time you use magic, you pay for it. For little things, like floating a pencil, you pay for it in concentration, and maybe a little physical energy, but not more than going for a walk. However, the more you take, the more you have to give back in one form or another. The show is not always entirely consistent on this, but the idea makes sense. To bring someone back from the dead, you have to kill something else, or pay some other kind of price. If you want to kill someone, there is a physical price, a mental price. Nothing is free. In Harry Potter, it seems like everything is free.It's always put me off, and every time a fan tries to explain to me why I'm wrong it sounds like a deus ex machina, or just a plain old stretch.Also, quidditch is the most pointless sport ever created. Only in 1 game out of 1000 does anything 99% of the action matter to the outcome of the game. Only the seeker and the bludgers mean anything.


Wow! Watching the movie was one thing, but reading it is completely something else! I wish I didn't watch the movies first >__< Or should I say, I wished I read the books first!My first impressions:1) I didn't realize how humorous some parts of the book were! Albus Dumbledore, you're definitely off your rocker; but I LOVE IT!2) The friendships, and interaction between all the characters are great. I love the love/hate relationship going on between Ron and Hermione.3) Harry is a spunky kid isn't he? For a 11 year old he really knows how to hold his own. Well done sir!4) Neville Longbottom. What can I say? He's the true hero, isn't he? :)5) Love The Mirror of Erised chapter.6) Quidditch is amazing. Can I be a Beater?7) Excellent writing. Great setup for the rest of the books!Check out my full review here: http://thereadables.tumblr.com/post/2...

Litchick (is stuck in the 19th century)

NOPE. CAN'T PROPERLY REVIEW IT! FANGIRL TIME!!!(view spoiler)[THE MASSIVE GROUP READ LIST:1. Me2. Amy3. Bonnie4. Grimlock5. Nine6. Mary7. Rose8. Angela9. Anna10. Aly11. Jgilles12. Noora13. Tandie14. Ally15. Gertiebee16. Christina17. Whitley18. Wart19. Tonina20. Scott21. Angie22. Abbe23. Jennifer24. Michelle25. Sarah26. Kaya27. Jo28. Summer29. Amanda30. Andrea31. Lily32. Erica33. Natalia34. Camila35. Julia36. Lane37. Johanna38. Sha39. Gitta40. Lyndi41. Moonlight Reader42. Aoife43. Cindy44. Amanda45. Silver Thistle46. Lisa47. Marianna48. Anna Janelle49. Autumn50. Sara51. Mary52. Rashika53. Readmore54. Drea55. Lady Danielle56. Hayley57. Jessica58. Michelle59. Shelby60. Flavia61. Lisa62. Synesthesia63. Catherine64. Kerri65. Kenzie66. Astrid67. Khanh68. Maru69. Liz70. Inga71. Asia72. Sophie73. Kathy74. Lau75. Jackson76. Shell77. JennyJen78. Jen79. Jordyn80. Kelly81. Loki82. Jackie83. Clio84. Brandi85. Ashley86. Sofihun87. Ingrid88. Zanahoria89. Haven90. Jo91. Mel92. Kitty93. Meltem94. Karli95. Ayla96. Nadia97. Elaine98. Donna(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


If you don’t know what a Muggle is by now, you’re either Rip van Winkle or enormously stubborn.enormously stubborn... yup, that shoe fits!


Do you remember when I said I will review this with my little sister if I can get her to read it? _________________________________________Me: Did you have any thoughts about this book before you started? Like, did you think about what kind of story it was going to be and how good or how hard the book was going to be?Mimi: Yeah! “Philosopher’s Stone” — I thought like… like… a stone people want to take. A special stone that everyone wants because it’s the Philosopher’s Stone!Me: Uhh… okay. Do you know anything about the Philosopher’s Stone? Before you read it, I mean?Mimi: Yeah!Me: *impressed* Really? How?Mimi: Fullmetal Alchemist!(OH DEAR GOD. I’d forgotten that she had managed to see some of FMA when I was watching it. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but well this is what happened. WHOOPS. THAT SHOW IS NOT FOR KIDS.)Me: Ooh… I see. Uhm… Did you know that the American version of this book isn’t called the Philosopher’s Stone, but the Sorcerer’s Stone?Mimi: No…Me: Do you know why?Mimi: Why?Me: Because they thought Americans wouldn’t know what a Philosopher’s Stone is, or that they wouldn’t understand. Do you think that’s a smart idea?Mimi: Did J.K.Rowling do it?Me: I don’t know. In the UK, it’s called Philosopher, but it’s just the American version.Mimi: … that’s stupid.Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 12.54.29 AMMe: Heh, okay. What’s the first thing you want to tell people about this book?Mimi: It’s about magic. And houses of wizards and witches and magic. And that… Dumbledore is the Headmaster. And there are four houses! Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Rufflepuff– I mean, Ravenclaw. I get so confused with those.(RUFFLEPUFF OH MY GOD LJHKJALJF RUFFLEPUFF)Just read the whole thing here, it takes too long to bring in all the doodles.


Wow...nggak kerasa sudah 15 tahun sejak saya kenalan sama Harry Potter dan terpesona pada dunia buatan Madame Rowling ini. Saya tahu kalo saya mestinya bikin review, tapi sebelum itu, rasanya pengen nostalgia saat pertama kenalan sama bocah dengan luka berbentuk petir ini.Saya pertama ketemu Harry Potter di Bras Basah, sekitar akhir 1997. Saat itu saya sedang asyik memilih-milih buku bekas ketika shopkeeper-nya menawari saya buku ini. Dia berpromosi kalo ini buku bagus banget dan sayang banget kalo ampe gak saya beli. Dia juga bilang kalo Harry Potter ini lagi happening banget di Inggris sana.Waktu itu saya kenal internet cuma sebatas email dan chatting doang, gak pernah browsing. Saya pun bukan tipe yang langganan majalah ato koran, jadi saya benar-benar gak tahu kalo ada buku berjudul Harry Potter yang lagi booming. Saya malah curiga kalo buku ini adalah buku jelek yang gak laku. Ya logikanya aja, kalo emang tuh buku buagus banget kok udah ada yang jual second-nya di Bras Basah? Dan kalo emang laris buanget, kenapa juga si shopkeeper maksa-maksa saya buat beli? Tebakan saya sih ini buku gak laku dan si shopkeeper mo nepu saya (Oh...how stupid I was).Akhirnya buku Harry Potter 1 itu saya beli juga karena sang shopkeeper menjamin saya boleh tukar dengan buku lain kalo nggak puas. Dan begitulah awalnya saya kenal sama Harry Potter.Rasanya saya gak perlu menulis sinopsis buku ini ato bahkan memberi tahu buku ini termasuk dalam genre apa. I mean, seriously? Sudah 15 tahun lebih sejak demam Harry Potter melanda dunia, it's been all over the news. Kalo bahkan ampe detik ini Anda nggak tahu garis besar cerita Harry Potter, berarti Anda emang gak berminat sama buku ini. Then why bothers now? ;)Jadi lebih baik saya membahas apa yang saya rasakan sewaktu membaca kembali buku ini setelah 15 tahun berlalu.Yang pertama saya rasa sih "aura"nya yang beda. Sewaktu pertama baca Harry Potter dulu, teman-teman saya gak ada yang ngeh sama buku ini (yah sebenernya ampe sekarang temen saya yang baca buku ini juga sedikit sih :| ). Jadi saya heboh sendiri, bahas buku ini sendirian (dan dapat tatapan loe-ngomong-apa-sih dari teman-teman) bahkan fangirling pun sendirian #kasian. Sekarang ini, berkat GR dan BBI, saya jadi kenal banyak orang yang juga ngefans sama Harry Potter bahkan ampe baca bareng. Jelas vibe-nya beda banget. Dan itu menyenangkan. Horeeeee....saya masuk golongan mainstream #hehe.Yang kedua, saya mengubah pandangan saya tentang Harry di buku pertama. Awal baca dulu, saya beranggapan Harry ini kepo banget. "Kenapa sih pusing banget sama kemungkinan Sorcerer Stone dicuri sama Voldemort? Kenapa gak kirim Hedwig aja ke Dumbledore sih buat warning?"-- itu adalah pertanyaan saya dulu.Sekarang saya ngerti kenapa.Seperti yang dibilang Harry, Dumbledore tahu bahwa Harry butuh untuk mencoba melawan karena pertarungan dengan Voldemort itu personal untuk Harry. Gimana pun, Voldemort lah yang membunuh orangtua Harry. Dan Harry sadar kalo Voldemort bisa kembali menyerang dia.Tapi terutama, karena Harry sadar bahwa kembalinya Voldemort dapat membuat dia kehilangan dunia sihir.He was nothing in the muggle world. Gak punya siapa pun dan apa pun. Lalu dia menemukan semuanya di dunia sihir : sahabat, kebahagiaan dan terutama : penerimaan. Penerimaan yang tak pernah dia dapatkan sebelumnya. Gak heran kalo Harry berkeras mempertahankannya. I'd do the same if I were him. I'd fight the nastiest wizard if I have to in order not to let something most precious being taken from me. So I could understand Harry's determination to fight Voldemort even when he's still a kid.Ketiga, ternyata saya sudah suka Ron dari buku ke 1 X).Jangan salah, dari trio itu Ron memang favorit saya kok. Saya suka Ron karena kalimatnya yang witty dan rada sarkastis, belum lagi sindirannya yang tajam. Tapi kualitas itu baru keliatan di buku kedua (ato malah ketiga?). Yang pasti bukan di buku pertama.Dulu saya gak ngerti apa yang bikin saya bersimpati sama Ron sejak awal. Sekarang saya tahu. Karena Ron orang pertama yang "menerima" Harry. Dia gak meremehkan Harry seperti yang dilakukan Malfoy, tapi dia juga gak memujanya secara berlebihan. Dia menganggap Harry sama normalnya dengan dia, and that's enough.Keempat, saya makin kagum dengan persahabatan Ron dan Hermione. They're true bestfriends.Tanpa ragu Ron dan Hermione menemani Harry untuk melawan Voldemort walopun mereka tahu resikonya. I mean, saya ngerti kesetiaan Ron dan Hermione pada Harry di buku ke-7. They've come a long way. Tapi di buku 1? Saat mereka baru kenal 1 tahun kurang serta belum ngeh seberapa parah kondisinya kalo Voldemort kembali berkuasa? That's great.Kelima, perubahan karakter Neville kerasa banget ya. Neville yang penakut dan gak berani membela dirinya sungguh berbeda dengan Neville di buku ke-7. I forgot how awkward, clumsy and shy Neville was. But let's talk about him on the later book.Keenam, wow...penerjemah Harry Potter ini keren sekali ya.Saya sudah pernah sih baca versi Inggris dan terjemahan buku ini (untuk reread yang ini, saya baca versi Inggrisnya lagi), dan dari dulu memang saya tahu penerjemahnya emang canggih. Tapi baru sekarang saya benar-benar ngeh..Mirror of Erised diterjemahkan Cermin Tarsah. Erised yang merupakan anagram dari desire, diterjemahkan jadi tarsah yang anagram dari hasrat. Wow! Dan setelah saya googling, saya dapat info kalo sebenarnya ide Tarsah ini baru kepikir belakangan, menjelang bukunya turun cetak. Karena sang penerjemah berkeras mesti ada padanan yang tepat untuk "erised". Dan iya, beliau emang bener karena erised dan tarsah adalah padanan yang cocok.Ketujuh, hmm....saya tetap gak ngerti kenapa Professor Quirrell gak bisa menyentuh Harry hanya di bagian akhir buku ini? Waktu awal cerita, Harry bertemu Prof. Quirrell di Diagon Alley dan saat itu mereka sudah berjabat tangan. Kok saat itu tangan si Quirrell gak melepuh ya? Padahal sudah jelas kalo Voldemort telah "nebeng" di tubuh Quirrell saat itu.Kedelapan, saya makin kagum deh sama JK Rowling.Oke...saya tahu kalo JKR emang banyak menggunakan bantuan mitos, legenda ato apalah itu dalam ceritanya. So it's not really original. Tapi toh emang gak ada formula yang benar-benar baru. Yang penting sih gimana Rowling bisa meramu bahan yang ada. And she's really good at it.Tapi yang sebenarnya keren dari Rowling adalah : dia benar-benar paham karakter pembacanya.I guess in some points of our life, even if it's just for one time, we ever felt like Harry, who's a misfit and wishing to go to some place new where we could start everything from the scratch or becoming a different people. But not everyone could do that. Apparently Harry is one of those lucky people.Reading Harry's journey gave me happiness. Happiness that comes from knowing that at least there's one person in this world who could fulfill his dreams. It also gave me some hopes that in the end everything will be fine for me too. If this boy whose life was much more miserable than me finally found what he always wanted, how could I not? :)Dan Rowling juga dengan cerdasnya memilih setting di Inggris, suatu tempat yang masih bisa terjangkau dan karenanya masih terasa "dekat". Bukannya tempat jauh antah berantah seperti di Middle Earth sana, atau dunia magic namun tak terjangkau seperti Abarat. Terlibatnya kaum manusia non sihir (aka muggle) juga tempat-tempat di Inggris seperti stasiun King's Cross membuat cerita ini makin terasa dekat di hati, membuat kita (oke...sebenernya sih saya) berani berharap bahwa suatu saat nanti saya juga bisa dapat..ehem...surat saya sendiri. Seorang teman saya bahkan sampe mencoba menekan pilar di tempat yang semestinya jadi peron 9 3/4 waktu dia lagi ada di King's Cross dan waktu salah seorang petugas di sana melihat kelakuan teman saya, si petugas bilang : "You're not the first person who tried looking for that platform." Bhahak....ternyata banyak yang bermimpi ke Hogwarts eh? ;)Dan alasan kenapa saya kasih 5 bintang walopun saya mengakui kalo cerita di buku ini masih kalah spekta dibanding buku-buku berikutnya?Karena ini adalah buku pertama. The one that started it all. Buku ini juga yang bikin saya kenal dan jadi langganan (sampe sekarang) sama sebuah toko di Bras Basah itu. It's always nice to find a new friend because of one certain book.Lastly, just wanna say this : for you all who feel like you don't fit in, who wished for a magical school, or secret garden or magical cupboard that could open secret passage to magical land and still secretly keeping those wish alive : keep on wishing. Keep on hoping. Who knows, maybe your "letter" is on its way now :)


This is a disgrace to all pure bloods. My head looked quite dashing on that strange professor's head.. If only I could have extended my stay. Harry Potter.. This is not over yet.

Mohammed Arabey

سُئلت مؤخرا علي الجود ريدز-فضلا عن عدد لانهائي خارجه- عنأكثر الكتب تأثيراً في تكوين شخصيتكوقد أجبت عن هذا السؤال باكثر "تصويت" غير متوقعالاجابه عن السبب سأعلنها غالبا بعد قراءه اخري قريبا لهذا العالم الساحر والذي بدأت دخوله علي استحياء بمشاهده الفيلم في فبراير 2002ولكن الامر صار دخولا حقيقيا بحادث ما نتج عنه قرائتي طوال ليله صيف للكتاب الاول لهاري بوتر من منتصف الليل وحتي مطلع الفجر تقريباواستكملته باقي اليوم التالي في احد ايام سبتمبر قبل الدراسه في 2002ولندع الاجابه لاحقا حين كتابتي لريفيو يليق بتلك السلسله ولكني ادعوكم للخروج معي من تلك الخزانه الصغيره تحت السلمودخول حاره دايجون والحفاظ علي السر الذي سنعرف بوجوده في بنك جرنجوتسوالجري للحائط بين رصيفي 9 و 10 ولانقلق من الاصدام بهودخول بيتنا الحبيب مره اخري..هوجوراتسواذا سالتني "ستفعل كل ذلك مره اخري ؟"فلن اجيب عليك الا بـدائمامحمد العربي

Raeleen Lemay

GINNY'S FANGIRLING IN THIS BOOK IS JUST TOO GOOD.Also, the Dursleys aren't as bad as people think they are, because after all, they DID pick Harry up at the end of the year rather than just abandoning him. So THAT'S worth something.mmmm, this book smells so good. It's good to be back.


Oh look! A cute, funny children's book, just the right length, with a nicely constructed, self-contained plot and a good ending.Well, obviously we want to turn it into a huge, bloated, ridiculously self-important seven-volume series. Nothing else would make sense.


EDIT NOTE in 2012: Since this apparently isn't obvious, I wrote the review years ago. I do not necessarily have those opinions now. I wouldn't know; I haven't read Harry Potter since. With a degree and five more birthdays behind me I do not necessarily agree with everything I said when I was seventeen years old. I'm happy to chat about the definition of literature with you, or what I think about the Harry Potter phenomenon now or whatever, but try and be civil and don't attack me right out of the gate.EDIT NOTE in 2011: I've edited this review to take out some teenage arrogance, but the rest is as-is. A few years later and with a degree in hand, including modules in Children's Lit, I could probably write a better review, but people seem to like this one!I really don't like Harry Potter. It's one of those little concealed but apparently not widely known facts about me, which shocks everyone when I say I love books and they're all, "yeah, rite, Harry Potter is so awesum rite?" and I say "...no, it really isn't." I confess: when I was eleven or twelve or so, I read them. I also read the Sabrina the Teenage Witch novels. I read everything and wasn't very discriminating about it. I did enjoy them. I continued to enjoy them until I got to Order of the Phoenix, and then I decided that all the hype aside, I just wasn't interested anymore. Bear in mind, then, for the rest of this "essay", that I have only read up to and including The Goblet of Fire.Cue a few years of irritation while everyone insisted I must read the rest of the books, and how dare I prefer Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin (and later, Susan Cooper). I have really no objection to people reading the books and enjoying them, taking part in the fandom that surrounds them, dressing up in witchy costumes to go and pick up the most recently released volume at midnight. Have fun with that! As far as I'm concerned you're welcome to. I'm even quite happy to concede that yes, Harry Potter did get more people reading. Whether it got them reading literature or not is another matter: how many people, I wonder, have discovered a mania for reading after reading Harry Potter and then gone onto the likes of Crime and Punishment and War and Peace, or even Lord of the Rings? Not that many, I'll bet. I think they're probably reading Twilight and the like, more often than not. Not that it matters -- as long as people are reading.But in any case, I. Don't. Have. To. Read. Them. Just because I like books, does not mean I like those books. And I detest it every time someone shoves them in my face as 'great literature'. I actually had to study Harry Potter, for my English Lit/Lang A Level (for those unfamiliar with our system: A Levels are exams you take when you're about eighteen, which among other things determine whether you can go to university). One of the questions we had to figure out how to answer was whether we thought Harry Potter was good literature, whether we thought it would stand the test of time, and how it was suited to the time it's currently in.It was then that I figured out that, yeah, there are things wrong with Harry Potter beyond just the hype that was irritating me so much and the feeling that Rowling in no way matched up to the giants of fantasy and sci-fi, like Tolkien. I studied it alongside Tom Brown's Schooldays, by Thomas Hughes. Do note that I didn't like that book either. But it's a well written, well shaped, well considered book -- and it doesn't use the same cheap tricks as Harry Potter does. I'm not going to say much about that, since it's not a book I liked: if I'm going to compare/contrast, I'll compare with my favourite book that is also supposed to be for younger readers, Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising.There's nothing wrong with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone being an amateur first novel. 'cause that's what it is. I'm sure many people's first novels don't even see the light of day, and yet Harry Potter somehow made it to a publisher's and was accepted. The thing is, people mostly refuse to recognise that and the cheap tricks J. K. Rowling uses. For example, her character's names. 'Draco Malfoy'. Mal, the French for bad, immediately obvious. 'Draco', suggesting dragon? Or perhaps 'draconian', which has negative connotations aplenty (not that I'd necessarily attribute those particular ones to Draco). Not very subtle, is it? 'Dumbledore'. Who doesn't get the image of a well-meaning, if strange, old man? 'Minerva', straight out of Greek myth: a goddess of knowledge. Gee, I wonder why Rowling chose that for a female teacher... 'Remus Lupin', 'Sirius Black', 'Mad-Eye Moody'... Do I even have to say anything?And 'Harry Potter'. Nothing striking about that: perfectly ordinary, as names go, right?Yeah. And that's the point. Harry Potter himself is not a real character -- certainly not at first. He's a cypher, a convenient space into which a kid can very easily insert himself or even herself. He's brave. Okay, generic hero characteristic. He has doubts. Again, the same. He has a Tragic Past. Don't we all? Or don't we all like to think we do? Look at the Mary Sues/self inserts people write in fandom -- so often they're people with incredibly dark, melodramatic pasts that they rise above. Harry Potter is a convenient place to insert yourself. The other characters are archetypes more than anything -- Hermione, the know it all girl; Ron, the loyal friend; Dumbledore, the mentor; Malfoy, the rival...All of that is actually what makes Harry Potter a highly readable, enjoyable book, for young people and even adults. It's targeted very precisely toward the readership of today. Maybe that makes J. K. Rowling a better author than I might paint her as, that she can know her audience so well -- there's that view, I'm sure. But it's all very basic, and I tend to look on it as cheap tricks. The whole chapter, in the first book, about the Mirror of Erised -- how sad does it make you feel for Harry? It's sentimental, it's sad -- and it's meant to do that, very obviously. There's a whole chapter written just to enforce the love between the members of Harry Potter's family.Susan Cooper does it in a single paragraph that makes me want to cry every single time I read it, coming after all the build up of guilt and pain in the relationship. "Bran went to [his father] and put his arm round his waist, and stood close. It was the first gesture of affection between the two that Will had ever seen. And wondering, loving surprise woke in Owen Davies's worn face as he looked down at the boy's white head, and the two stood there, waiting."That paragraph does for me what Rowling's whole chapter cannot. It's so effective, actually, because Cooper spends a whole book leading up to it, showing us Owen and Bran's relationship. Rowling shows us Harry's parents, but in an unsubtle way that actually throws me out of it because I think, "Oh, yeah, this is the chapter in which we're supposed to feel very sorry for Harry."There's also a very easy, blunt misdirection. You're supposed to hate Snape, supposed to believe he's the one to blame for everything, and at the end, you're supposed to be as surprised as Harry when it's Quirrel waiting there for him. At the age of eleven, I think I went right along with that, but when I reread it for A Level, I had to wince at how heavy-handed the misdirection was. I understand that later in the series Snape comes into it more, and I don't know whether the misdirection turns out to be not that misdirected when it comes down to the real truth: but in the first book, you're meant to believe it's Snape all along, and I don't think J. K. Rowling does a very good job of giving us clues that it's not actually Snape, because she's so busy blackening him to lead people astray.It's also very black-and-white. Questions aren't raised, by this story -- and that's a thing I think is actually important in literature. Raise questions, discuss issues, end with a question. I don't know what to call stories that don't fit into that, really. I'm going to go with 'novels' as opposed to literature. Harry Potter is a novel. It's a story. I don't think it has any real lasting values. Susan Cooper's books, while also quite basic, discussing the Light and the Dark, do end with a question. If man is left on earth, to do as man will, will man be Light or Dark? The immortals leave earth, and say that the world -- for better or worse -- belongs to humans. Right now, a lot of people think the answer to that question would be 'worse'. But Harry Potter does not raise this question, does not raise any question, and does not answer one either. That's why I don't think it will last except perhaps as a phenomenon to be studied: the 'Potter mania' and what caused it.That's why I don't like Rowling's writing. It's not particularly refined, it's unsubtle -- and that's okay, you know, I'm not saying you can't enjoy that, can't find it refreshing. I don't. I'm also not saying that 'novels' are bad -- they're good, they can provide valuable escapism, they can be incredibly rich fodder for the imagination, and I suspect Harry Potter is, for many children. But I don't call it literature, and I myself don't like it.Note: the three star rating is because honestly, when I first read it, I did love it.


Yes, I've been living under a rock.

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