Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
I read the book in the early 2000s after it was gifted to me by a girl who was really into the series.
I own a first edition US hardcover and have read it. I've also listened to the Stephen Fry audio book recording.
- The book has wonderful characters. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all lovable, Dumbledore, McGonagall, and the other professors are fun, Snape and the Dursleys are nicely wretched.
- Hogwarts is exquisitely described. Everything seems wonderful and magical, sentient pictures, moving staircases, secret passageways, dangerous monsters, etc. It's all fresh here, unlike in the later books where it becomes more formulaic.
- I like how Snape is believed to be very evil, but through a certain lens, he's actually a hero. Of course, he's still a bully, but you can appreciate him.
- Harry's natural affinity of flying is unbelievable. Even if he weren't locked in a cupboard his whole life, it's like taking an 11-year-old who's never played basketball, and on his first try, he's better than 18-year-olds who have been playing their whole lives.
- I don't like how so many people have alliterative names, I suppose it could just be a quirk of the wizarding world, but a fair amount of muggle-born children are also named in this manner.
- Trolls are supposed to be deadly, but the three children bumble their way through its attack without so much as a scratch.
- Quidditch could be a lot of fun, but it has several ruining features. Since the snitch is worth 150 points, catching it usually guarantees a victory for the catcher, making scoring with the quaffle pretty much pointless. In fact, a team would do better to have most of it's members gang up to catch the snitch and just sacrifice several goals. Also, since the match ends the moment the snitch is caught, but not until, games often end very quickly or take forever, and neither outcome is practical. Also, while finding the snitch would be a difficult task in a game without spectators, when you have hundreds or thousands of people watching, any one of them could easily help the seekers by pointing them in the right direction. Finally, since brooms vary so much in quality, which ever team spends the most money has a major advantage over the other.
- This is common to most childhood literature, so I don't fault Rowling, but it would be nice if authors stopped doing it: bad people tend to have ugly-sounding names. Crabbe, Goyle, Severus, etc., while good people tend to have common names, Harry, Ron, Molly, etc., a trend which continues through the series. It's a juvenile way of making evil characters seem evil and good characters seem good, but it also tends to influence children in real life so they assume that anyone who has an ugly sounding name, is an ugly person.
- The reveal of the true villain is certainly a surprise, but I would have preferred a bit of hints leading up to it. It just happens out of the blue.