Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Book Review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That's because he's being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he's really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

Series: Harry Potter (Book 1)
Genre: MG Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic (September 1998)
Page Count: 309 pages

I wasn't allowed to read or watch Harry Potter as a kid. My parents didn't like wizardry and witchcraft concept. It wasn't until I was eighteen did I watch the movies and now I've finally read the first book! I've had so many people recommend it to me, I'm so happy to finally get to it.

The Plot: My biggest problem was the plot. The story drifted a lot. It's supposed to be about the Sorcerer's Stone, but the story mostly focused on Harry's school adventures. Many of the events seemed kinda random. Cute, but random. I'm a very plot-focused person, so this is why this irked me the most. I know this is middle grade so the plots tend to meander more, but I had expected a more streamlined story like I saw in the film. I do have to say I like how Rowling set up the ending twist. That was good.

The Characters:
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are delightful. I think they're a cute trio. Dudley is a horrible person. Malfoy is nasty. Neville is funny. Snape is a snoot. My favorite characters had to be Dumbledore and Hagrid. Hagrid endeared me from the start with his love for Harry and animals. I love Dumbledore's playfulness.

The Setting:
My favorite part of the book had to be the setting. I love the quirkiness of Hogwarts with ghosts and paintings and flying keys. I like the train and the boat. I enjoyed Diagon Alley and the goblin bank. I loved the intricacy of it all. I thought it was so cool that wands are made of different woods with different magical cores. It was a lovely world to spend time in and I can't wait to read more of it.

Epic Things:
Centaurs! I love centaurs and I don't see them in books much. Only in Percy Jackson and The Chronicles of Narnia. I love that they were included. Them coming in had to be one of my favorite parts of the book.

The Theme:
I didn't notice any particularly deep themes, but the resounding one seemed to be finding where you belong. Harry felt so out of place in the muggle world, but he felt right at home in Hogwarts. 

Content Cautions: There isn't anything of extreme concern. The use of magic I suppose, but it's mostly very quirky and lighthearted. Only the villains use darker magic. The person drinking unicorn blood was a little disturbing and there's one point where a character has two faces that's kinda bizarre. Lastly there's one usage of d***.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Intricacies of Currency - This may seem like a funny thing to point out of all of the things I could point out about Harry Potter, but hear me out. Currency is a very important part of worldbuilding, and I liked how intricately Rowling put the system with 29 knuts equal a sickle and 17 sickles equal a galleon. It added an extra depth to the world that I'm sure will come in more later. The whole odd numbers that equal the higher coin gives a whole other sense of quirkiness.

How this can be applied to writing: Have you given the currency for your world any thought?

Conclusion: I enjoyed the book. I didn't excessively enjoy it hence the three starts because of the drifting plot, but I'm looking forward to reading more of the series!

About the Author:
J K (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in the summer of 1965 at Yate General Hospital in England and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent where she went to Wyedean Comprehensive. Jo left Chepstow for Exeter University, where she earned a French and Classics degree, and where her course included one year in Paris. As a postgraduate she moved to London to work at Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King's Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book and began writing the first novel. Jo then moved to northern Portugal, where she taught English as a foreign language. She married in October 1992 and gave birth to her daughter Jessica in 1993. When her marriage ended, she returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, where "Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone" was eventually completed and in 1996 she received an offer of publication. The following summer the world was introduced to Harry Potter."Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in June 1997 and was published as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in America by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in September 1998.The second title in the series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", was published in July 1998 (June 2, 1999 in America) and was No. 1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts for a month after publication. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" was published on 8th July 1999 (September 8, 1999 in America) to worldwide acclaim and massive press attention. The book spent four weeks at No.1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts, while "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" simultaneously topped the paperback charts. In the US the first three Harry Potter books occupied the top three spots on numerous adult bestseller lists.The fourth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia 8th July 2000 with a record first print run of 1 million copies for the UK and 3.8 million for the US. It quickly broke all records for the greatest number of books sold on the first weekend of publication. The fifth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia on 21st June 2003. Published in paperback on 10th July 2004, it is the longest in the series - 766 pages - and broke the records set by "Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire" as the fastest selling book in history. The sixth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", was published in the UK, US and other English-speaking countries on 16th July 2005 and also achieved record sales.The seventh and final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," was published in the UK, US and other English speaking countries on 21st July 2007. The book is the fastest selling book in the UK and USA and sales have contributed to breaking the 375 million copies mark worldwide.J K Rowling has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry's school books within the novels. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "Quidditch Through The Ages" were published by Bloomsbury Children's Books and Scholastic in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief. The Harry Potter books have sold 400 million copies worldwide. They are distributed in over 200 territories and are translated into 67 languages. Find her on her website and Twitter!

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