Disclaimer: If you follow me on Goodreads, this is essentially a repeat of that review with a few changes (including the addition of a couple pictures).
First book down in the Harry Potter re-read challenge!
It is hard to believe Sorcerer’s Stone was originally released 20 years ago. When I think of 1997 I think of a lot of things — discovering Hanson, the Mariah Carey Butterfly CD — okay, I mostly think of musical things, now that I think about it (honestly, though, Hanson did change my life in 1997–and I do not think that is a hyperbolic statement. Have I had a Hanson post on either blog yet? If not, I should fix that. I digress…) It was a key year for me, though. And, I’ll admit, Harry Potter was not even on my pop culture radar that year. Or even the next, probably.
In fact, Harry Potter meant little to me until the first movie came out. I remember that, even before the first movie was released in 2001, the series had started to gain a lot of traction and popularity. People were raving about it, and my brother and sister were reading the books in school. I wasn’t all that interested. I wasn’t a fan of fantasy stories, and I kind of just didn’t care about all of the hype. I was in high school, and these were stories for children — my level of pretension was high.
As luck would have it, Christmas day in 2001 found my family headed to the movies, to see none other than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Despite my condescension in regards to the books at this point, I was almost immediately in love with the fantastical world before me. Hogwarts and all of its unique occupants and its abundance of magic hypnotized me, and I decided by the time I left the theater that I needed to give those books a shot after all. I remember picking up the first book not long after, imagining it would hold less magic than the movie did, if only because I knew what to expect now. To my surprise, it held the same amount of wonder that the movie had, and I eagerly devoured all of the books that were out at that point.
Re-reading this book again for the first time, I don’t know that I can say I felt the magic the way I had the first time. At this point, the series as a whole is a force to be reckoned with and has become ingrained in popular culture in a way few things manage to be. That being said, it was so refreshing to revisit this world from the beginning. There were so many things even in this first book that were left out of the movies, and I had forgotten. For one, we spend significantly more time with Harry and the Dursleys at the beginning of this book than we did in the first movie. There’s more background given in regards to Harry’s time with them, and their mistreatment of him.
It was also amazing to me, after having read the series through once, and having just finished (another) re-watch of the entire movie series, how much this first book truly sets the stage for all that is to come. I couldn’t help noticing the mentions of characters to come (Sirius Black), and conflicts that have not yet been seen (oh, so much Snape). It awed me anew to see how well Rowling planned out this whole series — and must have known, even from this first book, so focused on creating a sense of wonder in this amazing, magical world –where she was going to go with the story and these characters.
Oh — and I have to mention (this was NOT in my Goodreads review) — I realized while re-reading Sorcerer’s Stone that I think I completely forgot about the 6th Weasley brother? I distinctly remembered Bill for a couple of reasons — he married Fleur (go Bill), and he is played by Domhnall Gleeson (who I love). I knew Percy Weasley was downplayed significantly in the movies compared to his role in the books, but I just completely forgot about Charlie altogether. I think this is maybe because, in the movies, Bill is like a hybrid of the two characters in one? Maybe not…either way, I’m looking forward to being back in the books and getting all of the detail and changes that were left out of the movies.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention how much I truly love Neville Longbottom. From the first moment the reader encounters him in Sorcerer’s Stone, he is an endearing, wonderful mess. As wonderful as movie Neville is (and as hot as Matthew Lewis turned out to be), he doesn’t hold a flame to my sweet, lovely book Neville.
While Chamber of Secrets has long been my least favorite book and movie, after having sucha great time revisiting the first book, I look forward to the surprises that the second holds for me, that I’ve surely forgotten since my first read. If nothing else, I’ll get an extra dose of Ginny!