Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #1
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 1998
Source: Audiobook from the library
Read for: Harry Potter Challenge
Because these books are so well known, and all rereads for me, I am not writing formal reviews or summaries. Instead, I've created a little questionnaire that I am going to fill out for each book as I move through a reread of the entire series. Spoilers may occur.
Memories from the first time: I didn't want to read these books for the longest time because there was this kid in my sixth grade class that I really didn't like who loved these books. I don't remember why I didn't like him, or what finally swayed my opinion, but one day when I was in the library (where I hung out every day with my friends... I was that cool) I decided to read it. Naturally, the books were all checked out, so I put all of them (3 at the time) on hold. It was the first time I'd ever placed a library hold. I don't remember exact emotions when I finished it, but I know that I love them now, so I am assuming I loved it then as well.
Impressions this time: It was so FUN to read (er... hear) this book again. I loved being reintroduced to all of the small details about Hogwarts, and the way everything felt like a miracle to poor, unloved Harry. Reading this book was like rediscovering the series for the first time -- I felt a sense of wonder with everything.
I was also so impressed with Harry. I have always loved his character, but listening to this book had me thinking about why. I think I've just instinctively admired and loved him. Thinking about my reasons for it, I realized -- it is because he is humble but not sycophantic, strong and skilled but not arrogant, giving to his friends. He is perfectly normal in every way, and yet he rises above every negative circumstance of his life (and those circumstances are abundant), not in search of personal glory, but in search of goodness. He is genuinely good without being cloyingly perfect.
I also really loved getting to know Hermione again. As I mentioned in the favorite characters post of yesterday, Hermione is a character that I really strongly connect with. Ron and Harry really couldn't stand her at first (and she was obnoxious, let's be honest), but they learn to get past their first impressions and forge a permanent, awesome friendship. Despite Hermione's quirks, they learn to love her personality and her intelligence and her just-plain-weird obsession with school.
Best new spell: There aren't any "cool" spells that stand-out to me in particular, but one that proves to be very important in the book is "alohomora." (Spelling may be incorrect, because I listened to the book this time around and only have my own brain to give me the words). Without it, they never would have begun their curiosity about the sorcerer's stone, because they never would have seen what was locked in that corridor.
Best new character: Hagrid. Disregarding the fact that all the characters are new, of course. I love that Hagrid and Harry have this strong relationship and that Hagrid does so much for Harry. Hagrid is at times misguided, but always there for Harry.
Most villainous moment: When Voldemort drinks the unicorn's blood. That is a chilling part indeed. I know that later he attacks Harry and everything, but I find the unicorn's blood scene the most absolutely disturbing.
New secret discovered about Hogwarts: The Mirror of Erised, which holds the image of your heart's desire (and which Harry uses to get the Sorcerer's Stone and hide it from Voldemort).
Coolest new fact learned about the wizarding world: Well, this book is full of new facts, and they are all just as entrancing to me as they were for Harry. However, I will say that the concept of wizard chess is pretty awesome. I love that Seamus's set kept trying to tell Harry which moves to make because he was so new to the game.
Favorite magical creature: Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback, of course! Poor Hagrid.
Best argument between Ron and Hermione: I can't remember what the argument is over, but I am very grateful that whatever it was caused Hermione to go cry in the bathroom and get attacked by the troll. Otherwise, she may never have become friends with Harry and Ron.
Deathly Hallows that show up: Both the Sorcerer's Stone and the Invisibility Cloak. It was all there from the beginning!
Coolest magical object: The Invisibility Cloak. I think half the events in the series could never have taken place without it.