I’m not sure how many times I’ve read this now—three? Five? But it’s been years, and to me, Harry Potter equals Christmas. So it seemed an appropriate time to go back through them again, with fresh eyes.
When I tried to read “HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone” the first time, I think I gave up about 20% in, thinking it was clearly intended for children and couldn’t therefore interest me. But when everyone kept raving about the series, I decided to give it another try, and at least get through the first book so I could go on to the others. I’m so glad I did—I ended up reading the entire series after that in the span of maybe two months!
What struck me this time through, though, was how much exposition there is in HP #1, and how episodic it is until the very end. Well over half the book is exposition, just describing the Wizarding World and setting the stage for subsequent stories. I’ve seen the film version over and over again (and especially at Christmastime for some reason), because the whimsy of that world makes me so happy—so it almost surprised me how accurate the film is to the book, since some of the later films leave so much out that they’re hard to follow if you don’t otherwise know what’s going on. In this one there really isn’t a great deal of plot, though. It’s mostly backstory, and Harry’s first anecdotal experiences in Hogwarts. The Sorcerer’s Stone was never meant to concern Harry at all—he basically just inserted himself into it without invitation.
So while I LOVE Harry Potter in general, and I have such a fondness for this book now in light of the others, objectively I’d have to give this book lower marks. If the rest of the series never got written, it’d probably merit about three stars. Since it did, and since this is a necessary set-up with lots of nostalgia for me, I’d bump it to four.
My rating: ****