Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.
Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.
This book has officially been out 20 years, I think it's safe to say if you are worried about any sort of spoiler, please just don't read on. I loved this book. I'll always love this book, and if you haven't read this series but you're interested I hope you do! It's such an important story. I want to mention that this re-read I read the 20th Anniversary Gryffindor Edition and if you're on the fence about buying yourself a copy in your house I highly recommend it. It's beautiful. From the spray painted pages of each house color to the illustrations inside, it's totally worth the $15 on Book Depository.
If you know me, the rating I have given the book isn't a surprise. This book means the world to me, and it may be the one book I have read the most times. There's something so magical about this book, and I think it's Harry's amazement at everything he's experienced.
"Harry- yer a wizard."
As an adult, reading this book breaks my heart as much as it does make me feel happy and fuzzy. Thinking of Harry, an eleven year old kid in a house where he's essentially unloved and discarded is thrown into this world where everyone knows his name and he's treated like a hero. It's the small things that break your heart, like him using a bunch of his newfound money to buy him and his new friend Ron a bunch of sweets because he's never had money before, his surprise that he woke up on Christmas to having presents under the tree, something he isn't used to, and even the scene where he is caught flying on a broomstick without permission and he assumed McGonagall is going to beat him for it.
I feel like I am already all over the place, it's hard to review a book that not only have you read at least a dozen times, but it holds a lot of sentimental value. So I'll review it like I normally review books, first characters, than the plot, and then the writing.
"But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."
I think that the characters in this book are great. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are just little beans and I love them so much. I can't help but picture the actors and movie visuals when reading the books, even if I remember exactly the way I imagined them when I read the books for the first time. I like that we are in Harry's point of view, because it feels like you're being put in this new world just like he is, and you're experiencing it for the first time. When Harry walks through Diagon Ally the first time I feel my heart swell. The whole Diagon Ally scene in both the book and movie are one of my favorite scenes ever. Then there is Ron, who is my favorite character, and I love that he and Harry hit it off so seamlessly. I actually forgot how much time it takes before the duo becomes a trio and Hermione joins the gang. I also forgot how mean they were to her at first! I mean sure, she's super annoying for a good chunk of the book because she feels like she has to prove herself, but dang! My second favorite character is Hagrid, and I just loved seeing him light up with Harry.
Of course the plot is amazing, the amount of world building that takes place in this book (and series) is so magical in itself. It's so detailed and it feels so real. One of the best things about re-reading a series like Harry Potter is you catch so many little foreshadowing bits for the next book or even the last book that you wouldn't have caught the first time around. There isn't too much plot in this book because we are getting used to the world, plus it's a middle grade book so the plot doesn't really get dark until book 3/4.
The book also has a few scenes that I am actually bummed we didn't see in the movie, like the scene where Malfoy and Harry are set to have a wizards duel, the scene where Harry and Hermione get Norbert to safety (by the way, how did Charlie Weasley and his gang show up to Hogwarts undetected in the middle of the night, especially with the wards and spells all around the castle?), and I really love the snippet at the end where Hermione is trying to figure out how to defeat the Devils Snare and she announces they need firework because she has forgotten in that moment that she's a witch.
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
Overall I think this book is such an amazing one. I think this book (and the movie) have some of the most iconic Harry Potter scenes for me. The ones that always spring to mind is Harry flying on a broomstick for the first time, Harry finding the Mirror of Erised (my favorite chapter), and the scene with the troll in the bathroom. This book is always going to be a comfort for me. It's one of the books that makes me the happiest, even if it has some sad moments. Of course the magic and wizarding world is enough to make me love this series but I think the themes of friendship, bravery, and love are what I love about it and are what makes this story such an important one.