Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ( Harry Potter #1 ) by J.K. Rowling - Book Review

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Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! 

Warning: Though I haven't revealed anything about the plot, I may have mentioned some spoilers. 

Hello you guys! I’m back and this time, with a review of my all-time favorite series, Harry Potter! I have been meaning to re-read this one because it deserves a place in this blog so I kind of started it last week, in time for a re-watch of the movie last night.

It’s kind of hard actually, to write a review of this book. But I have to do my best to give it justice.

This story follows the life of the Boy who Lived, Harry Potter. He is an orphaned boy, who was raised by a Muggle family, the Dursleys, who lives in Number 4, Privet Drive. He doesn’t have any idea as to his real identity. He just knows that he was unfortunate enough to have lived with his Aunt’s family. He was given hand-me-down clothes, given barely enough food to eat, ordered to live in the cupboard under the stairs and meant to suffer for all his parents’ rubbishness. He always dreamt that someone who knows his parents will one day rescue him and take him away from the Dursleys. His misery will soon be ended by a letter sent by a persistent Wizard informing him that he was accepted in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  

His life will soon be changed when he is introduced to a world he hasn’t even known existed. He was apparently a celebrated hero in the world of wizards. Born to two great Wizards, James and Lily Potter, Harry Potter will learn all about the things his aunt hid from him. He was the boy who survived the Killing Curse performed by the most powerful and dangerous Dark Wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort. He will be transported to the World of Magic and will be making friends with a lot of them.


Mr. Dursley - director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache.

Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors.  

Dudley Dursley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head.

Albus Dumbledore (Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorcerer, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confederation of Wizards) – The Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. He is considered as the greatest wizard of modern times, and is particularly famous for his defeat of the Dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel.

Professor Minerva McGonagall - a severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She was also the Head of the Gryffindor House. She teaches Transfiguration.

Rubeus Hagrid – The Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed and so wild - long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins.

Professor Quirinus Quirell – Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for first years. He is a young man with a very pale skin tone and light blue eyes.

Professor Severus Snape - He teaches Potions, knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, and is the Head of Slytherin House. He has a greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and a sallow skin.

Professor Pomona Sprout – She’s the Head of the Hufflepuff House and is also the Head of the Herbology Department.

Professor Cuthbert Binns – He is a ghost who teaches History of Magic. According to stories, he had been very old when he had fallen asleep in front of the staffroom fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him.

Professor Filius Flitwick – is a part-goblin, part-wizard. He’s a tiny little wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk. He’s the Charms master and the Head of the Ravenclaw House.

Ronald Weasley – He was a tall, thin, and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose. He has lived under the shadows of his brothers and has a low self-esteem. He’s so afraid to start his first year in Hogwarts because he may not live up to his brothers’ performance. He came from a large family and it’s evident that they did not come from a family of money. All his life, he has been given hand me down things from his clothes, his wand, and even his pet, Scabbers.

Hermione Granger – She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth. She’s a book smart who thinks that everything can be learned from a book. She’s a planner and wants to be ahead of everything. Her fellow classmates think she’s a know-it-all so she has a few friends. One event with her being saved by Harry and Ron will seal their friendship forever.

Fred and George Weasley – They are twins and Ron’s older brothers. These two are known for their notorious pranks in Hogwarts. I love these two.

Percy Weasley - He was also Ron’s older brother. He was a prefect and is also housed in the Gryffindor. He’s the uptight brother who would never know a joke even if it danced naked in front of him.

Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington – He’s the resident ghost of the Gryffindor Tower and is nicknamed the Headless Nick.

The Bloody Baron is the Slytherin’s ghost.

Mr. Argus Filch – the caretaker. He has a cat named Mrs. Norris, a scrawny, dust-colored creature with bulging, lamplike eyes just like Filch’s.

Fluffy – It is a monstrous dog that filled the whole space between the ceiling and the floor. It had three heads. Just a tip though, playing music continuously will likely make it sleep.

Goblin – about a head shorter than Harry. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard and very long fingers and feet. They run the Gringotts.

Ministry of Magic – Their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there are still witches and wizards up and down the country.

Muggles – the non-magic lot.

Gringotts – a Wizard’s Bank ran by Goblins. It is believed to be the safest place in the world for anything you want to keep safe.

Diagon Alley – is a cobblestoned wizarding alley and shopping area located in London, England behind a pub called the Leaky Cauldron. Inside the alley is an assortment of restaurants, shops, and other sights. All items on the Hogwarts supply list can be bought at Diagon Alley. The alley is completely hidden from the Muggle world which is right outside of its boundaries. It is very large in area and essentially the centre of wizarding London. (Source: http://goo.gl/RgyUq5)

Hogwarts Express - is the name of the train that makes a run between London, King's Cross Station Platform 9¾ and Hogsmeade Station. It carries students to and from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the start and end of every term. The train leaves Platform 9¾ without fail on 1 September at 11 o'clock in the morning, arriving at Hogsmeade Station in the early evening. (Source: http://goo.gl/Zh5Y6V)

THE SORTING – is a yearly ritual performed at the beginning of each school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Sorting is held in the Great Hall before the start of term feast, after all students have arrived at school via the Hogwarts Express. (Source: http://goo.gl/w7yik2 ) One by one, students will come in front and seat on the chair and put on the Sorting Hat (It is a wizard’s hat. It’s patched and frayed and extremely dirty. It is a sentient Hogwarts artefact which magically determines to which of the four school Houses each new student is to be assigned.), which will determine the House they’ll belong into through their stay in Hogwarts.

THE HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT & WIZARDRY - is a British wizarding boarding school teaching the magical arts, located in an unknown location in Scotland. (Source: http://goo.gl/XFpzWv) It is composed of four houses where the students will stay.

"You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart"

Gryffindor - The particular characteristics of students sorted into Gryffindor are courage, chivalry, and determination. The Gryffindor house emphasises the traits of courage as well as "daring, nerve, and chivalry," and thus its members are generally regarded as brave, though sometimes to the point of recklessness. They can also be short-tempered. (Source: http://goo.gl/UThiQD)

"Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind."

Ravenclaw - Members of this house are characterised by their wit, learning, wisdom and intellect. (Source: http://goo.gl/TqO0pH)

"You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil"

Hufflepuff – Students belonging to this house are known to be hard-working, friendly, loyal, honest and rather impartial. It may be that due to their values, Hufflepuffs are not as competitive as the other houses, or are more modest about their accomplishments. Hufflepuff is the most inclusive among the four houses; valuing hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members. (Source: http://goo.gl/Ys1GSC)

"Or perhaps in Slytherin,
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means,
To achieve their ends."

Slytherin - Slytherins tend to be ambitious, shrewd, cunning, strong leaders, and achievement-oriented. They also have highly developed senses of self-preservation. (Source: http://goo.gl/htNHmr)

While at the Hogwarts, the triumphs of the students will earn their House points, while any rule-breaking will lose House points. At the end of the year, the House with the most point is awarded the House Cup.

Quidditch – It’s like the soccer in the Muggle World. It’s the sport of the Wizards played up in the air on broomsticks. 

Invisibility Cloak – “Shining, silvery cloth” like water woven into material. It is a magical garment which renders whatever it covers unseeable and is used to make the wearer of the cloak invisible.

Mirror of Erised – It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on whosi. According to Dumbledore, shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.

Remembrall - is a tennis ball-sized glass ball that contains smoke that turns red when its owner has forgotten something. It turns clear once whatever was forgotten is remembered.

Spells Used in the Book

Alohomora - The Unlocking Charm, also known as the Thief's Friend (Alohomora) is a charm that unlocks and opens doors and windows that are not protected by magic. It is also able to open doors locked by the Locking Spell (Colloportus).

Wingardium Leviosa - The Levitation Charm is a charm used to make objects fly, or levitate, taught to first years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Locomotor Mortis - The Leg-Locker Curse, also known as the Leg-Locking Spell, is a curse that is used to bind the legs of the victim together.

Petrificus Totalus - The Full Body-Bind Curse, also known as the Body Freezing Spell, is a curse that paralyses the opponent. It is often used by inexperienced or young wizards in dueling.

It’s probably just the third time that I've read this and nothing’s changed. I still loved it. I first read this when I was in high school. I may have loved it then, because of Harry’s adventures and all. Reading it as an adult was entirely different. I came to understand it more. I connected to it on a deeper level. Maybe I was a bit emotional when I read it, but there were a few scenes that actually made me cry.

My heart goes for Harry. For all the facts hidden from him. For not knowing that he has a wonderful set of parents who showered him with love, which helped him survived the Killer Curse. Wondering about your parents; wanting to imagine them yet you couldn’t put any image of them in your head; itching to ask questions about them, yet you are forbidden to ask. For such a young child to experience those, it must have affected him terribly, which is evident on how little he believes of himself.

One of my most favorite parts was when he found the Mirror of Erised and he finally saw what his family looked like. I was pretty emotional while reading it.
She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her eyes- her eyes are just like mine, Harry thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Bright green – exactly the same shape, but then he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same time. The tall, thin, black-haired man standing next to her put his arm around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very untidy. It stuck up at the back, just as Harry’s did.

Harry was so close to the mirror now that his nose was neatly touching that of his reflection. “Mum?” he whispered. “Dad?”
Ron, on the other hand, who grew up in a loving family, may appear a happy kid outside, but he’s harboring insecurities about himself. They don’t have a lot of money, so he has to make-do with his brothers used things. He cannot complain because he knows his family can't afford. I see in him a person who is so desperate to move out from his brothers’ shadows but doesn’t have any idea how to do it. I liked how he loves his family and how proud he is of his father. He wants to be acknowledged and make his brothers proud of him. He showed his bravery by sacrificing himself in the Wizard Chess.

Hermione, for all her sassiness, is someone who’s struggling on making friends. Others are intimidated by her intelligence and sometimes misconstrue her intellect as a know-it-all attitude. She also has her weak moments. Harry and Ron are good on her because they balance her control-freak tendencies. She, on the other hand, is also a big help for the two, who have a difficulty focusing on their studies. She maybe intelligent, but she lacks the courage. She always has the urge to open a book whenever she wants to know something. When faced with crisis, she loses her head.
“Lucky you pay attention in Herbology, Hermione,” said Harry as he joined her by the wall, wiping sweat off his face.

“Yeah,” said Ron, “and lucky Harry doesn’t lose his head in a crisis – ‘there’s no wood,’ honestly.”
Although she made up for it when she solved the puzzle given by Snape for the potions which helped Harry face Professor Quirell.
“Harry – you’re a great wizard, you know.”

“I’m not as good as you,” said Harry, very embarrassed, as she let go of him.

“Me!” said Hermione. “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery and – oh Harry – be careful!”
Neville Longbottom - a minor character has some hidden potential in him. The Sorting Hat didn't put him in the Gryffindor team without any reason. He may be bullied and all, but all his experiences will shape him into a better man in the future. He showed a bit of his courage by standing up to his friends when they were planning to make their move to protect the Sorcerer's Stone. Without him, Gryffindor wouldn't have won the House Cup. So hooray for your bravery!
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."
Their stay in Hogwarts will slowly mold them to become better people. Harry, Ron, and Hermione will form a bond and little do they know that this will help them survive for their next adventures to come.

This book is a hit for me, because despite the number of characters, it didn’t lose its focus. I love the plot. I also loved the setting. How the author thought of all these is still a big mystery to me. I was an adult yet I felt like a kid reading this again. Perhaps, it also helped my imagination that I’ve seen this on the big screen before. J.K. Rowling will always remain as one of the most brilliant authors of all time. Her books, along with her characters and stories, will always remain in my heart. And I promise that when I start my own family, my kids will be introduced to them too.

Lastly, as a tribute for portraying one of my most loved characters, let us all raise our wands to the brilliant actor, Mr. Alan Rickman. Thank you of being a part of my childhood!

"To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."
"As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all - the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."
"The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should be treated with great caution."


J.K. Rowling 

Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling, pronounced like rolling, her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling. She calls herself Jo and has said, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry." Following her marriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. In a 2012 interview, Rowling noted that she no longer cared that people pronounced her name incorrectly.

Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer, and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Bristol. Her mother Anne was half-French and half-Scottish. Her parents first met on a train departing from King's Cross Station bound for Arbroath in 1964. They married on 14 March 1965. Her mother's maternal grandfather, Dugald Campbell, was born in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Her mother's paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the First World War.

Rowling's sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael's, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that: "I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee." At the age of nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said "taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind," gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.

Rowling has said of her teenage years, in an interview with The New Yorker, "I wasn’t particularly happy. I think it’s a dreadful time of life." She had a difficult homelife; her mother was ill and she had a difficult relationship with her father (she is no longer on speaking terms with him). She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother had worked as a technician in the science department. Rowling said of her adolescence, "Hermione [a bookish, know-it-all Harry Potter character] is loosely based on me. She's a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I'm not particularly proud of." Steve Eddy, who taught Rowling English when she first arrived, remembers her as "not exceptional" but "one of a group of girls who were bright, and quite good at English." Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books.


Disclaimer: The logos used in this photo were taken from the Harry Potter page in Wikia. 

Other Harry Potter Reviews:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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