Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who's parents have been killed in a 'car crash'. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day.
Reviewed on 27th May 2012
Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone is the first book in the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling. This must be about the tenth time I've read it, but the first since the conclusion of the series with the Deathly Hallows in 2007. I'm reading it again along with Pottermore - Rowling's new website which contains additional detail about her writing process and the characters and world they inhabit.
Harry Potter is an eleven year old orphan, trapped living with his grumpy aunt and uncle until one day he discovers he is a wizard, and goes off to Hogwarts, a school of magic.
Reading the book again, I was surprised to notice a number of things. The book is actually really short - only 16 chapters - and yet there is so much happening. The story is quite episodic in structure, with each chapter having a mini-adventure of its own while continuing the main plot.
The differences from the film also stand out - particularly the presence of Peeves the Poltergeist, Ron's height, and the descriptions of the centaurs. However there's also a lot more detail and it's really this richness - Rowling's world-building skill - that makes the series stand out. There is so much going on and yet it is presented so straightforwardly that it's hard to imagine anyone finding the book difficult regardless of age.
Overall, it's a book I love, and probably now qualifies as the single book I've read the most in my lifetime. I could pick it up again right now, and am looking forward to re-reading the rest of the series once their 'episodes' become available on Pottermore.