I first read this in 2001. The film was literally days away from release and I thought I should really try and read the book first. Also, I thought it was probably time I had gotten on the bandwagon as people everywhere were talking non-stop about Harry Potter and about how amazing the book was.
I didn't finish the book before I saw the film. In fact (and I can barely believe this now but...) I wasn't really all that enamoured with the book. I didn't get the hype. I didn't rush to absorb every page, it was only because I always finish a book that I made the effort to do so.
I've now re-read this book at least 10 times and I suspect will continue to do so for the rest of my life. So what changed you ask? Well, book 2 changed it all for me. But more on that when I review book 2!
As most of you probably already know, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the story of an orphaned boy taken in by his horrid aunt and uncle. On his 11th birthday he discovers that he is a wizard and not only that, he is famous throughout the entire wizarding world as the boy who lived - an evil wizard killed his parents and tried to kill Harry, but for some reason, Harry is the only person ever to have survived. And so it begins, an adventure that lasts 7 books and that will no doubt last our own lifetimes as we relive it over and over again.
Harry starts school and soon begins to learn the story relating to his parents death and all that goes with the evil wizard Voldemort. Meanwhile, Voldemort, who has never been seen or heard of since the night he killed Harry's parents, is scheming his return, a plan that ultimately sees Harry and his new friends enter battle with the darkest of forces.
While this is a book aimed at children, I confess I absolutely loved it (although as mentioned already, the love took a while to appear)! I think children appreciate the amazing wizarding world while adults appreciate JK Rowling's masterful writing. The book is a literary delight, a treat for the imagination and the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Harry and his friends and teachers and the wizarding world. I still don't think its the best book of the bunch, but as a whole series, it plays its part perfectly.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Why: JK Rowling leads us on a rollercoaster of a journey filled with lots of details and pictures which truly open up the magical world she has envisaged. The way she has linked all the books together in my mind is mindboggling! There are so many details in each book that fit together in the end, but along the way you don't appreciate them - definitely a smart way to pull the reader in and ensure you re-read her books. I liked that I read these alongside the films, because although the films are nowhere near as good, they help a lot with the imagery and the formation of the characters and in the end you feel a part of it all. A writer's dream surely.