To kick off my July challenge of reading the entire Harry Potter series by Harry Potter's birthday on July 31st, I have the book that started it all - the Philosopher's Stone (NOT Sorceror's - I still can't believe anyone calls it anything but its original title).
Just a brief review here, since:
a) This is possibly the book I have re-read the most, and thus, the amount of love I have for it has completely transcended my ability to give an unbiased and coherent review and;
b) I don't actually know if I can review impartially when it comes to Harry Potter - it is so entwined with my childhood and development, and means so much to me and my personal growth that I can't look at it as simply a book I read once for enjoyment. I really would give all of them five stars, which tells me that I'm completely blind when it comes to Harry and the series that completely changed my life.
J.K Rowling gave me an unbridled passion for reading, an limitless imagination and a love for fantasy which I never had before. I know I'm not the only one who owes their love for literature to this amazing author and I really have difficulty comprehending how much I adore this series - the characters, the world, the writing, absolutely everything. The only thing I wished for whilst re-reading this was for it to go on for longer. The pace in Philosopher's stone is certainly different from the consequent books - it is much faster, less detailed and less pensive than the darker and longer fifth, sixth and seventh novels in particular.
Right off the bat though, J.K Rowling challenges the reader to delve deeper into their imagination. The Dursleys - the epitome of unmagical, unimaginative and boring suburban life contrast perfectly with the world of magic. Rowling challenges the reader to accept that normality is something which is to be avoided - that being exceptional or imaginative or fantastical is far more alluring and interesting.
The characters constructed are beautifully thought out and brought to life. Hermione will forever be one of my favourite literary eleven year olds - bright, unafraid of her intelligence and unashamedly in love with books and reading, she was my childhood inspiration. There will be a little part of me which will always be wishing I could be more like her. It doesn't matter, Rowling says through this character, if you're not perfectly pretty or likeable. You should never be ashamed of your intellect.
I forgot how hilarious Fred and George were in this book, and how much better it is reading about these characters than simply watching them on a screen. Sure, the actors in Warner Brothers movie franchise are attractive and fantastic at their jobs, but they don't have the replica nature of the carefully crafted characters that Rowling set up in this first installment. The world here feels so much more real to me, even though it isnt a visual representation.
Finally, having read the entire series and going back to re-read it again, it is incredible to see little hints of things which tie into the arc of the series and become apparent in the later books. When Harry laments (p. 162) that Snape is keeping such a close eye on him that he wonders whether he can read minds, my thoughts immediately jumped to the revelation in Order of the Phoenix that Snape was an accomplished Legilimens and the ensuing Occlumency lessons.
Overall, I could gush for days about this series, but that would incredibly dull and unusful for most people. Lets just leave it at the fact that my reading challenge is going well, and by the 7th of July I've already completed two of the seven books in the series (Chamber of Secrets coming soon and not nearly as long, I promise).