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The Big ReadHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

J K Rowling

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (6 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Bloomsbury

Published : 1997

Copyright : J. K. Rowling 1997

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7475-3274-5
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7475-3274-3

Publisher's Write-Up

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason : HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nadine (230706) Rating (8/10)
Review by Paul (010202) Rating (9/10)
Review by Nigel (010901) Rating (8/10)
Review by Vex (310701) Rating (7/10)
Review by Chrissi (310501) Rating (9/10)
Review by Ray (280201) Rating (7/10)

Review by Nadine
Rating 8/10
It's been seven years since I first picked up a Harry Potter book, so I think it's high time I provided a review. I confess I didn't think it would be up to much at first - after all it was just the latest craze for kids, like Pokemon or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So when The Philosopher's Stone turned up in my Christmas stocking I opened it with mild curiosity and low expectations.

The story started simply enough, and for the benefit of anyone who has managed to miss it I will summarise: A misfit of a boy, orphaned as a baby and neglected by his guardians, is one day confronted with the truth about his heritage... his parents were wizards. He is offered a place at the school his parents attended - a school of magic, where he will finally find his true place in the world. But his family's tragic past is linked to a lingering evil presence in the magical community, and Harry finds himself caught up in mysterious and frightening events that threaten not only his own life, but the future of all wizards.

A pleasantly diverting couple of hours ensued. I found myself drawn into what seemed to be a moderately clever and engaging plot, and was greatly impressed by the development of the characters. I've rarely come across such vivid, colourful personalities in a book. The calm, wise Professor Dumbledore, jovial Hagrid and vitriolic Snape all seemed to leap straight from the pages and into my head as fully formed, real people. It was like I was reading about people I once knew.

I found it all highly imaginative and entertaining... if a little simplistic and predictable.

I am very easily led.

Just when I thought I had the author's plan figured out, and was confident that I knew exactly what direction the story was going in... Bam! A plot twist! It seemed I had fallen for every red herring and misdirection that the author intended me to, and the ending was as much a surprise to me as I imagine it was to any ten-year-old. I still clearly remember frowning at that page, re-reading the same passage again and again, going over all the clues in my head as the revelation gradually sank in. I still feel that sense of delighted amazement that came from realising I had been utterly wrong… not only about how the plot would turn out, but also in my preconceived idea of the storytelling standard.

I closed the book feeling a lot more respectful towards the Harry Potter phenomenon than I did when I thought it was all a load of marketing hype. I was not yet an addict, but I was ready to concede that the book's enormous success was deserved after all. In fact I felt rather guilty for so badly underestimating it. I also felt mildly alarmed that I had nearly let my misguided assumptions get in the way of reading it at all... and what a treat I would have missed out on!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone taught me a valuable lesson: Sometimes hype happens for a reason.
Nadine (23rd July 2006)

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Review by Paul
Rating 9/10
Who hasn't heard of Harry Potter by now? Perhaps a few Neolithic people near where I live but even that may be stretching things. I had been trying to borrow the books off friends but they had been warned not to with Christmas nearing. So come Christmas and there I was with a set of the books to read. I set to and had them all read by the second week in January. Now what can I say about them that hasn't already been said!

Terrible. An awful read. I don't think that's been said. :)

Honestly, I thought they were wonderfully written and I have only one problem with J. K. Rowling's books. I read quicker than she writes, I can't wait for the next instalment. If you thought it is all just the usual hype think again. Perfect for the child in us all.
Paul (1st February 2002)

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Review by Nigel
Rating 8/10
As the only person on the planet that hasn't read a Harry Potter book yet I thought I'd better start (I hope this isn't some alien enslavement thing like 'Day of the Triffids'. Don't look at the meteors!!! Only people who haven't read a Harry Potter will survive...). I digress :)

Harry is orphaned as a baby and left to grow up with his not very nice Aunt and Uncle, not knowing anything about his destiny. Harry, however, is a wizard and receives an invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Leaving his gruesome Aunt and Uncle and his room under the stairs he begins his first year at this fantastic school. Soon, however, things start to happen that draw Harry and his friends into adventure.

This book is really quite good. It is very simple with a fast plot and story line and is perfect for children (and adults after a long day!) I also think it's a modern take on the typical British childhood adventure. The settings allow for anything to be possible yet at the same time not seeming too far-fetched.

Very well written and readable for both children and adults. The point people miss when they say "but it's a children's book!" is "does it matter?"

Ms Rowling has sold millions of her novels and I'm sure has created a generation of readers. An amazing achievement in this modern age.
Nigel (1st September 2001)

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Review by Vex
Rating 7/10
Good... Definitely written for younger readers, but worth the read for adults also...
Vex (31st July 2001)

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Review by Chrissi
Rating 9/10
I was vaguely aware of the phenomenon that is Harry Potter, but as an adult, it is not something that it occurred to me to read. Strangely enough though, I found that I was being told about it from several directions at once.

I know several people with young-ish families and the bed time story seemed to have been given a new lease of life - up until the point where one mother got into trouble with her sons for reading ahead and finishing the book because she wanted to know how it ended, and did not want to wait several bedtimes hence. So, when even Ray sent in reviews, we got the books and they sat on the shelves for a while, until I got around to them.

I must admit that I read the complete series in a very short space of time, end on end. And I really enjoyed them. I can see why they have carved a niche for themselves in our national consciousness, they are quintessentially English, somehow, the boarding schools, divided into houses, even the weather is English.

But I digress... Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone is the first of the Harry Potter series and it finds him living with his awful aunt and uncle and their dreadful son. When he was small he was the unwanted child after his parents died in an accident. He survived with only a strange scar across his forehead, like a lightening bolt.

Harry is desperately unhappy and badly treated in the house, living in the cupboard under the stairs, while his fat cousin has two bedrooms - one for new toys, which he sleeps in and one for the broken and discarded toys, which is like a toy graveyard. Harry accepts that this is life, until one day, a letter arrives for him. He has never had a letter addressed to him before, but his horrible guardians, leaving him wondering what it contained destroy it.

Fortunately, the sender of the letter is tenacious, and keeps sending more, resulting in a battle of wits to see who is going to get the post each morning. It becomes so stressful that the whole family is taken away to a remote island to try to escape the letters. But the mysterious letter writer manages to get through. The letters to Harry have been from the Hogwarts School, and say that he has been enrolled there from the start of the following school year.

It is all so beautifully written that you cannot help but get caught up with the story. You want Harry to have a better life than the one he has with his gruesome guardians and it is so much the better that he will have a very special life at Hogwarts. There is so much for him to learn, a whole secret history he does not know and lots of new people to meet.

I do not want to spoil the story for you, if you have not read it, but you want to read it, once you have passed the first few pages, you will want to carry on. I was not expecting such a book, it is not illustrated, (well, my copy isn't,) so it is not like a book for children from that point of view, but it is superb. You will love Harry Potter. Can't say better than that.

Note about the Harry Potter books
I have been careful not to give away too much of the story, because even the cover jackets are very light on details. It would be a shame to spoil the story by doing this. They do it on the blurb for most adult books, and it annoys me, so I have not done it here.
Chrissi (31st May 2001)

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Review by Ray
Rating 7/10
Harry Potter the now infamous wizard, now a common enough name in any house with children in. This is the first in the series and it has all the makings of a very good book. Likable characters, the nasty Uncle, the even nastier school teacher and a particularly nasty bad guy.

Children and adults alike will identify with one of the characters in this book. Harry and his new found school friends Ron and Hermione begin the life of training to be wizards. Along the way they find time to have more than enough adventures! Throughout it all the goodies prevail and the bad guys get their just desserts.

Lots of twists and turns and you'll find yourself hoping the bad guy gets it in a minute makes you keep coming back to this book.

The showdown at the end is inspired and unexpected! A friend lent me this book and I was at first sceptical as its wildly regarded as a children's book. But I was glad I persevered. I found it hard to put down and was quite impressed at its ability to keep me reading one more page.

Its a short book and you can easily finish it in one sitting and you'll be sorry if you don't. :-)
Ray (28th February 2001)

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