Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Book Review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author: JK Rowling
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Fantasy
Purchase: Book Depository
Series: Book 1 of Harry Potter

This review contains spoilers. I hope you’ve read it!

Since my friends and I have decided to take advantage of spring break and the fact that I won’t be able to travel over it to have a Harry Potter marathon,  I’ve decided to re-read the series before watching them all. Since my mother is an avid book lover and a Harry Potter fan to boot, she’s managed to – despite living ‘across the pond’ – collect the entire series in the UK edition, so that’s what I’ll be reading.

In each post I’ll also be including – at the bottom – my alternate name for the book and I personally think they’re hilarious. I hope you do too.

I’m going to try to make my reviews as unbiased as possible, pretending as though I don’t know how it ends, but I know I’ll probably fail.

And I’ll be forgoing separating spoilers because I assume everyone knows them.

Harry Potter was my first fandom – unless you count Scooby-Doo of course – and I can still remember the first time I saw it. My mom was watching it on TV and I sat in the hall where she couldn’t see me to watch it. I got caught – of course – and then we watched it together. Its odd because of how distinct this memory is, but it doesn’t line up with the timeline of my life. I remember being read Harry Potter in kindergarden, and I think I saw the movies first, but the house I can remember seeing it in we didn’t live in until after I started first grade. This memory blip is probably caused by my blocking out my childhood due to my parents divorce.

Still, thats how I remember it, and thats how it will always stay with me.

Some facts that you may or may not know (source):

  1. The first Harry Potter book was published in 1998, the same year the final Battle of Hogwarts was fought. Says Rowling, “I open at the close.”
  2. J.K. Rowling said she found Hedwig’s name in a book of saints.
  3. Snape hated Neville because Neville was nearly the Chosen One. If he had been chosen, Lily wouldn’t have died so young.
  4. If Muggles came upon Hogwarts, it would look like a decrepit building with a “Keep Out: Dangerous” sign on it.
  5. The day Harry and Ron saved Hermione from the troll — the day they became friends — is the 10-year anniversary of Harry’s parents’ death.
  6. Dumbledore is an Old English word for “bumblebee.” Rowling said she chose the name because she imagined Dumbledore enjoyed humming to himself.
  7. In the Harry Potter universe, there are an estimated 3,000 wizards living in Great Britain.
  8. Rowling made Harry wear glasses as a constant reminder of his vulnerability.
  9. Every 30 seconds, someone begins reading the Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter is a classic and undoubtedly one of the most important books of our generation. Everyone has at least heard of him, as McGonagil said ‘every child in our world will know his name.’ In my lifetime there has been no other book series that is so universally loved, and in our technological age it was able to spread across the globe far faster than anything else has before.

The thing about the Philosopher’s Stone is that even though there’s a bit of a tacky ‘chosen one’ narrative, the characters are treated as more than just a part of the puzzle, even by the Chosen One himself.

I won’t be reviewing all of the characters every time, I’d be here for the rest of eternity if I did, so I’ll only do the ones who have major parts and/or die in the book I’m currently reviewing.

Quirinus Quirrell

Pottermore Page

Quirrell is a Ravenclaw and exceptionally intelligent. I think it’s odd that we weren’t told his house in the book (I found it on the HP Wiki), because it adds an interesting twist to the ‘theres not a wizard who went bad that wasn’t in Slytherin.’ Certainly in latter books we see non-Slytherin characters go bad, like Peter Pettigrew, but showing that in the first book would have been nice.

He taught Muggle Studies for a while, then went looking for Voldemort, wanting to be the one who found what was left of him. He was no match – of course – and Voldemort convinced him to add him. Quirrell owned Vault 998 at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. He kept a small box containing various belongings, a large crate, and a chest containing Circe’s Chocolate Frog Card that was given by Cuthbert Binns to James Potter before Quirrell came into possession of it.

Albus Dumbledore

Pottermore Page

Someone told me the other day that ‘Dumbledore don’t act gay, JK Rowling only said that for attention’ and after having finished this book all I can think is ‘he’s already flaming.’ He is fun though, and I like his portrayal as kind of the ‘wizened mentor’ but also as ‘silly old man.’ Its a fun trait to see combined, and one that wasn’t always covered well in the movies.

Writing Tips

  • You don’t have to take yourself seriously
    • People really try to take Harry Potter seriously, but I don’t think its meant to be entirely. The later ones yes, but this one? No.
    • There’s a teacher called ‘Sprout’ who teachers about plants and a headmaster named after a bumblebee.
  •  Classic
    • Harry Potter has a very classic feel to it, it evokes a lot of emotions and the themes throughout revolve around friendship and family.
  • Symbolism
    • There’s a lot of that. See above comment about Harry Potter and Halloween.
  • Its never too early to introduce something
    • In my reading updates I kept track of people and things that are mentioned – even in passing – who become important later on. Its fun as a reader to see how much planning really did go into this.

Reading Progress and Updates

I’m keeping track of all kinds of things, including references to witches and wizards (and things) that will show up later.

  •  02/21
    • marked as: currently-reading
    • page 13 5.0%
      • Dedalus Diggle!!!
    • page 16 7.0%
      • Sirius!!
    • page 21 9.0%
      • Mrs. Figg!
    • page 22 9.0%
      • Marge
    • page 42 18.0%
      • Mom and I are joking about the conversations that happened that ended with Hagrid knocking down the door, not knowing how Harry has been treated. It’s all Dumbledore’s fault clearly.
    • page 89 39.0%
      • Lavender Brown
    • page 92 41.0%
      • “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” I love book Dumbledore more than anything.
    • page 95 42.0%
      • I love the Hogwarts song. It deserved so much more than just a deleted scene in movie four.
      • See it on youtube
  • 02/22
    • page 98 43.0%
      • So who counted the staircases?
    • page 109 48.0%
      • ‘First flying lesson’? When was the second?
    • page 117 52.0%
      • Doesn’t Curse of the Bogies get used at some point later?
    • page 125 56.0%
      • “Don’t worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers – I mean, they’re like a pair of human Bludgers themselves” is the truest thing Oliver Wood ever said.
    • page 126 56.0%
      • I would love to see Charlie Weasley face off against Harry at Quidditch.
    • page 132 59.0%
      • “But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are somethings you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve foot mountain troll is one of them.” CLASSIC
    • page 133 59.0%
      • “Harry didn’t know which was worse – people telling him he’d be brilliant or people telling him they’d be running underneath him holding a mattress.”
    • page 136 60.0%
      • What are they petitioning to make Potter president of, exactly?
    • page 143 64.0%
      • Fred and George are hitting Quirrell in the back of the head, which is Voldemort’s face!!!
    • page 149 66.0%
      • Greg and Forge
    • page 150 67.0%
      • “Dumbledore had swapped his pointed wizard’s hat for a flowered bonnet” and yet there are still people who think he’s not gay, or that JK just made it up after the fact? Seriously? Read the books.
    • page 152 68.0%
      • “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi” is “I show not your face but your heart’s desire” backwards. The HP Wiki thinks its SUPPOSED to be a foreign or dead language, but I think its just Dumbledore being silly.
    • page 167 74.0%
      • Harry and Ron standing up for Quirrell is the best thing ever.
    • page 173 77.0%
      • I want to hear about these friends of Charlie’s that take dragons from 11 year olds and help them smuggle them across countries.
    • page 184 82.0%
      • “Mars is bright tonight.” Mars is the God of War
    • page 214 95.0%
      • A toilet seat. Really boys?
    • marked as: read

End Notes

Did they win the house cup? Yes
Did they win the Quidditch Cup? No
Did they have end of year exams? Yes
Where did Harry spend Christmas? Hogwarts
Did Harry see the Sorting Ceremony? Yes

I recommend Harry Potter to anyone who enjoys reading. Even if you don’t enjoy reading Harry Potter has been the series to inspire it in many people. Don’t let the size of the later books scare you away, theres nothing that says you have to read them all now (and even though they’re big they’re not all that hard). There is no shame in reading what you can and watching the movies for the rest.

I have some Harry Potter inspired stuff on Redbubble that you might want to check out.

In short, I truly love Harry Potter and the Man Who Literally Has Two Faces.

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