Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
A Review

by Jonathan Dupont


January 4, 2000

< >It always amazes me how many people have read one or all of the Harry Potters. Although I see Azkaban staying in the top ten hardbacks, or Philosopher or Chamber staying in the top ten paperbacks in my mind that doesn't translate to people I know. In the room where I take Maths someone had stuck up on a board the article on Harry Potter from Time Magazine, and when I asked a friend who's form room it was, he didn't know who had stuck it up. It later turned out to be my math teacher who was a fan, which I discovered when he asked me when the fourth book was coming out.

< >But that is not the only example. My mother was looking for a book to read and I suggested Harry Potter. Out of sheer desperation she read it, and has now read the other two books. A similar thing happened to my father when he read the first book after becoming interested after hearing about it so much. We stayed with (adult) friends and I happened to mention Harry Potter. They too had all three books. However there are always people who won't give it a chance. My friend, a huge Star Wars and Pokémon(!) fan refuses to read it because his younger sister read the first page and thought it was too childish. But everyone who does it, seems to love it. If you read through the 500+ Amazon reviews, only people who have some religious problem with it don't seem to give it five stars.

< >The same happens with Chamber and Azkaban and yet the majority of people seem to find (like me) the original their favourite. And so I decided to ask myself why. I always hated the first chapter of Philosopher, mainly because I do not know any of the characters. The second and third chapters are quite good but I only started to really like the book in chapter four when he starts preparing for school and starts to get into the wizards and witch's world. I have always liked school stories and things with magic in them, so maybe that is why.

< >Probably the best thing about Philosopher compared to the rest of the series is that everything is new. The houses, the broomsticks, and the Quidditch matches. Despite trying to keep the sequels not repetitive (for example Harry manages to miss the sorting) their are bits that do seem that way in the second and third books. In the end I this is probably why I prefer it to Azkaban, even though the third book was longer, and had better plot twists.

< >Philosopher also has a much more self contained story than the other books, probably because J K Rowling didn't know whether it would be a success. Harry achieves all his main goals: happiness, friends, and finding more out about his mother and father. But why is Harry Potter so popular with children and adults? There are many other school stories, and many other stories with magic in. There are also quite a few with both in (such as The Worst Witch). The only reason I can think of is the brilliance of the author. Everything in this book is near perfect for a children's (or other) book, the length, the school bits, the magic bits, and the fact that there are sequels(!).

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