J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Book review by Daniela Chamorro Mantica
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, spanning seven books about a boy wizard, is a certified phenomenon. When it was published, the series was hailed as incredible not only in quality but for its ability to get children to read.
Well, buckle up, because this is another positive review-specifically, of the series' inception, the very first installment: Sorcerer's Stone. (Philosopher's Stone in Great Britain.)
The books in this series gain complexity and develop into young adult novels halfway through, but how does the first one stand up to the rest?
Admittedly, the plot is fairly simple: Harry Potter, an orphan who lives under the abuse of his aunt and uncle, discovers he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday and is whisked away to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn magic.
He also discovers that he is famous for defeating Voldemort, the greatest Dark wizard of all time, at the age of one. The only thing left of that encounter is the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.
Rowling takes her time with the introduction, leading us and Harry slowly through his discovery and journey to Hogwarts. Along with Harry, we learn about magic gradually-Rowling is a master of world building and doesn't overwhelm with information.
Harry's antics in the first book are expected: he makes friends, makes enemies, goes to classes, explores the castle, and realizes the pitfalls of unwanted fame.
But his adventures turn dark quickly, and soon he and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, are on a mission to protect the Sorcerer's Stone from falling into Voldemort's hands.
The novel sets up the rest of the series in subtle ways while still providing a compact story, compelling mystery, and strong setup for the world and the characters. It also leaves room for much, much more to come. Seriously, it's hard to explain how much more there is to this world and this story.
The novel's writing is simple compared to the other books and suitable for a younger audience, but it is not overly so. Adults can also enjoy the story without feeling like they are reading a "children's book."
The book is a great segue for middle grade readers to transition gradually intro higher reading levels, as both the sentence-level writing and the plots evolve throughout the series. Sorcerer's Stone is guaranteed to hook young readers into this excellent series.
Also: read my review of Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the Harry Potter series.
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