Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a cloak of invisitbility, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destin that's been waiting for him...if Harry can survive the encounter.
Thus begins my epic reread of the Harry Potter series before the final movie comes out on July 15! (What will we do when there is no longer a new Harry Potter creation to look forward to?)
If you haven't read the Harry Potter series yet, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? Go out and read them immediately. Thank you. For the rest of us, spoilers are ahead, because I will talk about each book with the revelations of the whole series in mind.
Rereading The Sorcerer's Stone is like a trip back to childhood. Harry is only 11, and reading about his first year at Hogwarts is all kinds of delightful. I am a fan of how Harry's journey gets darker throughout the series, but it's nice to just enjoy Rowling's wit and share Harry's wonder at this magical new world.
That said, there is a surprising amount of darkness in Harry's story from the very beginning, though Rowling tells it so charmingly that it's easy to forget. I mean, Harry is an orphan who has spent his entire childhood belittled and abused. The fact that he remains so well-adjusted and good-humored is a huge testament to his inner strength. If I could adopt any book character, it would be Harry. The poor kid just never gets a consistent parental figure who doesn't die within a couple years of attachment.
Years and years ago when I read The Sorcerer's Stone for the first time, I was hooked when Harry gets his wand. The beginning with the Dursleys was funny, but it was when Ollivander said, "It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother--why, its brother gave you that scar" that shivers went up my spin and I knew this was going to be an epic story.
With the whole series in mind, I am amazed at Rowling's forethought. In the very first chapter, Sirius Black (Guh! Sirius!!) is mentioned. The Sorting Hat's mention that Harry could belong in Slytherin is our first hint that he is a horcrux with a little bit of Voldemort's soul inside him. And on page 221, Harry wonders if Snape can read mind, which will, of course, be a major plot point of Order of the Phoenix.
The thing that stuck out to me the most during this read is just how much Dumbledore is kind of....heartless. Now, I love Dumbledore. I love him when he's grandfatherly, I love him when he's odd, and I love him when he's battling Voldemort. I don't know if this is a popular opinion, but I loved him even more after the reveals in Deathly Hallows. The fact that beneath his charming exterior is a cold-blooded war general is fantastic. And that is hinted at even in Sorcerer's Stone. He leaves Harry the invisibility cloak, then returns it after Harry leaves it at the top of the tower. He is very obviously setting Harry up to go after the Stone, and I'm sorry, but what?? Sending an 11-year-old through all that? Dumbledore is testing him, I think. And he turned out to be right. But that doesn't change the fact that normal people would never do such a thing. Dumbledore is grooming Harry to confront Voldemort even now.
I enjoyed every page.
Five out of five swallowed Snitches.
Release Date: October 1998
Reading Level: Grade 3+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL ROW
Don't believe me? Check out these reviews of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:
Candace's Book Blog