Books Reviewed: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling AND Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling
I came late to the Harry Potter world. When I worked at a bookstore in high school, I experienced two midnight releases and still didn't understand why everyone was so obsessed with the series. I couldn't fathom a reason why anyone, particularly people over the age of eleven, would care about a boy wizard and his strange, cutesy world.
Of course, I would come to eat my own words. During my freshman year of college, I lived in dorm full of Harry Potter nerds. They loved the books and the series. They loved the strange world in which Potter fans lived. Finally, trying to see what all the hoopla was about, I watched the first four movies. I ended up liking them so much that I decided to read the fifth book, then the sixth. I went back and read the fourth, then got my copy of the seventh and final book on the day it was released, finishing it in a weekend. I went back and read the third book as a college senior. But somehow I never got around to going all the way back and reading the first two books.
Then the final movie came out last month. I went to see it, and I couldn't believe that I had let my Potter-love lie dormant for so long. How had I stopped thinking about this series all the time? It's so much fun! I decided it was time to read the first two books. Before I knew it, I'd gobbled them up in less than a week.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone made me remember why I was a Potter fan in the first place: because of its world-building. There are so many characters that it's a near-guarantee that any reader is going to find at least one they love or with whom they identify. I'm not sure how well I can judge this book by itself, though, because I read it years after reading the later books. Rowling is a certainly a capable writer, even if her prose is awfully flat at times. But honestly, I'm willing to overlook this due to her excellent skills as the creator of an imaginary world. The Harry Potter universe is so deep and wide that it's hard to believe it came from the mind of a single individual. I loved this first book because it gave me a chance to see the beginnings of what would become a ridiculously complex place. I enjoyed seeing Harry meet the Weasleys (oh Lordy, do I love the Weasleys), become friends with Hermione, and figure out that Severus Snape was the baddie. Also, I'd forgotten how funny the books could be, especially in comparison to the later, abbreviated, more-angst-centered movies.
I didn't enjoy Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets quite as much as I enjoyed the first book, but that wasn't a huge surprise. I don't think Chamber of Secrets ever really ranks as anyone's favorite Harry Potter book. It just seems to lack something the other books have; I'm not quite sure what. That being said, it was still a fun reading experience. There's a lot more to the book than the admittedly bad movie version. I am particularly sad that the ghost deathday party was cut from the film.
I love Harry Potter. I don't care if that makes me uncool or whatever. It's such a fun place to live inside for the hours you spend reading the books! I cannot recommend enough that everyone avoid my mistake. Stop making fun of Harry Potter and pick them up for yourselves. It's totally worth it.
Notes: Since I have Harry Potter on the brain, you can probably expect some other Harry Potter-themed blog posts in the coming months. If you have any ideas for a Harry Potter topic, let me know!