Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (JK Rowling)

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Book: 12/100

The Harry Potter series is very sneaky. Every time I think I have possibly finished it for the gazzilionth time, I get the urge a few months later to reread. I have probably read all the books 20 times (each) but I can’t help myself going back.

This time, I was scrolling through my twitter feed, and I accidentally read the word “Sirius”. And there the urge was! I couldn’t help it – I just had to start! I decided to start at the beginning and work my way through, since that just makes sense. So I took the first book from the bookshelf, and there I went.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we meet young Harry Potter. Orphaned as a child, when Lord Voldemort murdered his parents, Harry was sent to live with his horrible non-magical relatives, Vernon and Petunia Dursley. They have a son, Dudley, who finds delight in being a mean bully and making sure Harry has no friends at school.

Life at Privet Drive is anything but fun for Harry. He lives in a cupboard under the stairs, is treated horribly, and is a glorified slave to his family. He is confused when strange things happen around him; for instance when he made a glass window disappear at the zoo, putting his cousin in a glass cage and accidentally setting a Python free. He is always punished for these random occurrences, even though there is no explanation for it.

Harry is outraged when he receives a letter for the first time in his life, and his uncle snatches it away. Vernon Dursley’s actions become increasingly strange, and he even takes his family to a remote island to prevent the letter from reaching Harry again.

But Vernon just isn’t capable of hiding the truth forever. On the island, a half-giant, Rubeus Hagrid, appears to tell Harry the truth. He tells Harry, after breaking down the door, that Harry is a wizard. And not just any wizard – a famous one, who managed to free the magical world of the most evil wizard of all time when Voldemort tried killing him. Instead of killing Harry, the curse rebounded on Voldemort, turning him to nothing.

Harry finally reads his letter, which is an invitation to attend the famous wizarding school, Hogwarts. When Harry arrives at school, he becomes friends with ginger Ron Weasley, and bossy know-it-all, Hermoine Granger. He is chosen as Seeker in his Quidditch team (a wizard sport), making him the youngest seeker in a century. This angers his new arch enemy, Draco Malfoy. Draco comes from a long line of dark wizards, with his father only escaping imprisonment by claiming that he was forced to help Lord Voldemort. Draco loves trying to get Harry, Ron and Hermoine in trouble. He finally manages to score them detention, when they help Hagrid get rid of a dragon and get caught on their way back.

For their detention they are ordered to work with Hagrid in the Forbidden forest, helping him to find the beast that is busy killing all the unicorns. Harry is nearly attacked by the beast, but is saved by a centaur, Firenze, and carried to safety.

At school, Harry and his friends start to suspect their Potions master of trying to kill Harry. He seems a likely villain, since he expresses deepest loathing to harry from day one. At a Quidditch match, Harry is nearly killed when his broomstick starts bucking, but is saved from death by clever Hermoine, who makes Snape’s robes catch on fire.

They start looking for clues to why Snape is acting so oddly, and eventually find out that Snape is looking for the Philosopher’s Stone – a stone that gives immortal life, and makes you very rich. The only information Snape still needs is how to get past a 3 headed dog, Fluffy, before he gets to the stone. When Harry finds out Hagrid accidentally let that information slip to a stranger, Harry knows they need to get the Stone before Snape does.

The three friends set off to the forbidden third floor, under the trapdoor. They get past fluffy, a humongous chess set, and a series of riddles containing potions. They manage to get through everything because each of them excel at something; Ron at chess, Hermoine at riddles, and Harry at flying.

Ron is injured while playing chess, and Harry and Hermoine set off without him. When they get past the potions riddle, they realise that there is only enough potion for one person. Harry tells Hermione to get back to Ron, and send a message to Dumbledore for help.

When Harry enters the chamber that is supposed to contain the stone, he gets the shock of his life. He finds his defence against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrel, instead of Professor Snape. But this Professor is startlingly different from the one Harry met at the beginning of the semester. Instead of stuttering and being afraid of everything, he is sarcastic, moody, and a little crazy. He reveals that it was always him that tried to kill Harry, and that Snape always tried to save Harry.

It is finally revealed that Lord Voldemort is controlling Quirrel, and that he lives like a parasite on Quirrel’s head, hidden under a turban. He speaks to Harry, and Harry finally sees what has become of the most evil wizard of all time. Harry finds that the Stone magically appeared in his pocket, and tries to flee from them. Quirrel attacks Harry, and when Harry starts to touch his face in defence, Quirrel’s skin starts to burn. Harry sees Quirrel dying, and the spirit of Voldemort fleeing, before passing out.

When he wakes up again, in the hospital, Albus Dumbledore is there to assure him that everything went well. Dumbledore reveals why Quirrel couldn’t touch Harry – when Harry’s mom died protecting him, she left a magical protection through it.

The book ends on a lovely note, with Gryffindor wins the house cup due to the three’s heroics. Upon his return to the Dursley’s for the summer vacation, Harry conveniently forgets to tell them he isn’t supposed to use magic outside school, making life much easier at Privet Drive.

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*image found on http://www.thechive.com

Rating: 8.5/10

I love these books so much. It is amazingly written, and no matter how many times I read it, I am addicted every time. My heart just breaks for Harry, a sad little orphan with a good heart, who grips to the knowledge that he is something finally. I think Rowling must have known even then how all the books would play out, since all the first books hint at what happens in the later ones. Harry Potter will always be in the same category as Lord of The Rings and Alice in Wonderland.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (JK Rowling)

  1. Pingback: Book Challenge – Progress, Part 2 | Life of this city girl

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling) | Life of this city girl

  3. Pingback: Book challenge: Progress part 4 | Life of this city girl

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