Opening Line: Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Book Cover Blurb: Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive.
Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle.
Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!
Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
I realize I’m almost two decades late to the party with this one. Before I picked up this book I was probably in a very small minority of people who had neither read the books or watched any of the movies.
Although I do enjoy sci-fi and fantasy books, a story about a boy wizard that spawned almost hysterical fanboy/girl worship turned me off. I considered those young readers to be on a par with One Direction fans in their decision-making process about what constitutes ‘art’ – snob that I am.
I was also a little bit resistant to reading something which seemed so far-fetched. I mean, seriously, a ginger kid with three friends?
There’s very little new I can tell blog readers about this book that they won’t find elsewhere. The story is familiar to many by now – ordinary boy plucked from obscurity – boy finds he has a magical talent – boy faces resistance from peers and overcomes adversity – boy makes friends and they have adventures – group bond together to face an evil which threatens their world.
I wanted to hate the book. I wanted the hype and the fanatics to be wrong, if only so that I could point to more ‘serious’ works that have given me most enjoyment in my reading life.
But I couldn’t. I really enjoyed the adventures of Harry Potter and friends. The book wasn’t without faults – strange choices of adverbs (“he looked at the mirror hungrily”), or scenes that felt all too familiar in other stories, but that’s probably the inner editor in me being overly critical.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the world of Hogwarts and the brilliant characters assembled – kids we can all relate to from our childhood. I’m already looking forward to the next installment.
Author: J.K. Rowling
Other Books Written: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Cuckoo’s Calling (as Robert Galbraith)
Time to Complete: One week
Interesting Fact: J.K. Rowling was writing the book in cafes around Edinburgh while she and her daughter were living on state benefits. Several publishers rejected the book before Bloomsbury took a chance with the first-time author.
Rating: 8 / 10
Next Book: Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Part of the BBC Big Read 100 List