THE GIRL WHO READ: HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE.
One of my best friends, Alex Cameron (she’s taken many a photo for Wonderful You!) was absolutely outraged to learn that I hadn’t ever read the Harry Potter books. As an avid fan and having read the books herself multiple times, I actually felt her physically recoil away from me when I admitted I wasn’t on the bandwagon. Or broomstick, as it were.
I did read the Philosopher’s Stone when it first came out (I must have been around seven at the time), but I didn’t bother carrying on with the rest and have since had to live with the very real shame of my truth.
Last year I set myself a reading challenge on an app called Goodreads – it’s a brilliant little app where you can save books you want to read, share what you’ve read and what you’re currently reading. As well as connecting with others and having access to reviews of pretty much any book you could think of. I told Alex I’d be doing another this year, and she made me promise that the entire series of the Potter books would be in it. I reluctantly agreed…not because I don’t like Harry Potter, but just because when anything is massively hyped, I’m usually turned off. For example..I haven’t watched Game of Thrones (don’t curse me through your screen, I beg of you!)
So, without further ado, I introduce to you:
THE GIRL WHO READ
A Harry Potter Review series. With a banging title suggested by one of my lovely followers!
For each book I read in the series, I’ll write a little review on here. As someone who didn’t experience the books at the time of release, and doesn’t know much at all about witches and wizardry I thought it might be quite a fun thing to share!
The Girl Who Read: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Harry Potter, an eleven year old orphan, learns on his birthday that his parents were in fact wizards. From living under the stairs in his aunty and uncles shoe cupboard, his life is drastically transformed. Being whisked away to become a student at Hogwarts, where he’ll learn to be a wizard. A tale of friendship, hardship and discovery.
Most people I’ve spoken to about the books have started with the sentence
“The first three books aren’t great, but stick with it because they get SO good”
That being said, I went in with pretty low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting a children’s book to pack much punch. Obviously I was wrong. I adored the writing style, simplistic but extremely witty. I found myself laughing out loud from pretty much the first page. Interestingly there’s a review on the back that said comparison to Roald Dahl was valid, and without having read that, the dynamic of Harry and the Dursley’s had immediately reminded me of the characters in Matilda and her relationship with her parents.
When I came to think back how to start this review, my initial thoughts were just how much was packed into such a short story. In just over 200 pages, Rowling is brilliant at character building in the shortest time. From Professor Mcgonagall as a cat transforming to a stern older lady, to stuttering and timid Quirrell, I felt like I knew them all personally from the get go.
I have to say, there wasn’t one character I didn’t like. Even the ‘baddies’ were pretty endearing to me. Perhaps that stems from it being a children’s book, I don’t know?
My favourites had to be Ron, Hagrid, Hermione, Mcgonoagall, Dumbledore and even Snape.
Snape’s character was instantly intriguing to me. Like your grumpy next door neighbour – mean, but not evil. It felt too obvious for him to be the culprit, even for a children’s book. I felt similarly about Filch too. They just came across as two old men who are extremely loyal to their roles at the school. However that was all knocked out of the park when he cast a spell on Harry’s broomstick during the quidditch match. I felt thrown off because I wasn’t expect it at all. It was clear he disliked Harry, but trying to kill him in front of the whole school?! Surely not!
And then on page 166, when Snape tells Quirrell to think about where his priorities lie it made me think. I had already felt Snape was too loyal to be the bad guy here, so it did make me suspect something was off with Quirrell, but I wasn’t sure it could be capturing the stone, not after how nervous he was.
Lots of people don’t love Harry’s character. And I have to say I didn’t agree with that for the first part of the book. But on page 208, he really got my goat. Did Harry actually do anything at all to get past all those spells?! No!! Ron and Hermione did all the work to get them through! Probably my pessimistic side shining through here, but it kind of annoyed me that he was paraded as a hero when he didn’t do much of anything, really. Is that too harsh?! I hope not!
At the very end when Hermione and Harry get to the troll it fell into place. The troll in the toilets earlier on in the book…that wizard had used their trump card twice! It had to be Quirrell, we’d already seen Snape’s spell! I wasn’t shocked to seem him when Harry pushed through the last door. But I did think it was quite genius that He Who Shall Not Be Named was on the back of his head. Brilliant.
There wasn’t anything I disliked about this introduction to the magic world. It was actually really lovely to get lost in some fantasy at a time where the world is so uncertain. And in my eyes, it’s certainly a book for all ages, even the ones who don’t usually enjoy a hyped up series 😉
Now, on to the next one.