This is the first of the Harry Potter books. I’ll try to get the first four reviewed before the fifth comes out on June 21. (I’ve preordered my copy of book five online, and will get that review up as soon as I’ve read it.) Once this series is done, I’ll get back to work on the long, pedantic Silmarillion.

General Information

Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Author: J. K Rowling
Original Publication Date: 1997
ISBN: 1-55192-612-1
Cover Price: $11.95 Can
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Harry Potter, something of a young male Cinderella, discovers that
he’s a famous wizard.

High Point

It’s a book that’s aimed at children, but it does not insult older
readers. Stories can be directed at the young without automatically
becoming immature. I believe that this respect for the audience is
one of the reasons that these books are so wildly popular.

Low Point

Forgetting the invisibility cloak (in a scene not in the movie, so
I’ll not give more details.) It just seemed out of character.

The Scores

The elements are not original. Wizards, witches, fate,
mysteries, and all of the ingredients herein are used elsewhere. The
typical underappreciated geek becoming powerful and famous is a common
theme in the superhero world. However, the execution is so unlike
anything else I’ve seen with these elements that it still feels fresh
and new. I give it 4 out of 6.

The imagery is good enough to get by. You don’t want to go
into too much detail in a book meant for children, since there’s
always the risk of boring them. We know the layout of the major
locations, and we get descriptions of the major characters. Some
areas, like the one behind the locked door on the third floor, are not
well described. It gets the job done well enough for the target
audience, so that gets a 4 out of 6.

The story is surprisingly well developed for a children’s
book. In most mysteries aimed at children, you know who the villain
is almost immediately, what the goal is, and then just worry about
stopping them. This one has an evil plot with implications and
collaborators that aren’t clear until the final few pages, although
the clues are all there for the reader to sort out. There were a
couple of moments, like the low point and the wizard’s duel, that
seemed tacked on because the story required it, not because it made
sense for the characters. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization of most of the major players is very
well done. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and a couple of
other players are not terribly deep, but distinguishable by dialogue
and actions. It’s great for the target audience, but leaves the rest
of us wanting a little more. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response to this book is fantastic. This is a
lot of fun, plain and simple, regardless of how old you are. I give
it 6 out of 6.

The editing on this book could have used a bit of work. Some
of the scenes seem inefficient, although they all do something to keep
things moving or allude to upcoming books. It’s not horrible, but it
could have used a bit of tightening. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, this is a book aimed at children that the rest of us
can enjoy. Millions of kids actually want to read these books. Yes,
it’s aimed at kids, but it’s still very fun, and very entertaining. I
give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone receives
33 out of 42.