Last month I challenged myself to set up a blog and start reading more. I’ve started with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in a series that pretty much passed me by. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the films but, for the most part, I am relatively unspoiled. A muggle, if you will! (I know I’m using the word wrong, let me be).
The Philosopher’s Stone is the only film in the series I really paid attention to, and I’m really hoping I’m not stuck with the mental image of an 11 year old Daniel Radcliffe throughout the whole set of books. I’m curious if people who read the books first and then saw Daniel Radcliffe in the role thought he was a good match?
Looking at the story as a whole, there were no real shocks or big surprises. I mean, I knew Professor Quirrel was a bad guy. Come on, he had a stutter. An *evil* stutter. As a whole this book felt like an introduction to the series, and not a whole story by itself, which is understandable.
Hogwarts is a great setting and I find myself wondering where the funding came from for such an enormous school. Maybe some shady under-the-table wizard dealings went on to build it, though that’s probably a separate story. I’m loving all of the ridiculous elements like giant dogs, ghosts, talking portraits etc, although is it weird to say the centaurs felt strangely out-of-place? Dragon babies, sure, but now you’re showing me a centaur in the woods? Pull the other one!
Quidditch is one heck of a school sport, and can we take a moment to give Harry some major props for picking it up so quickly? He’s an 11-year-old who can fly around on a stick and catch balls. I’m in my twenties and I’d NOPE my way off of that pitch faster than Hermione can say alohomora.
Character-Wise, I am already a complete supporter of all things Neville Longbottom. For some reason in my head he’s being played by Regular-Sized Rudy from Bob’s Burgers (pictured), and I’m OK with that. He’s the underdog with such a pure heart, and I almost found myself disliking Hermione when she put that binding spell on him towards the end of the book. I hope he comes to the forefront in later books, but in book one he was peppered in it just enough for me to remember him and enjoy his presence.
Snape may as well have been wearing a placard that said, ‘I AM A RED HERRING.’ He basically feels like Malfoy from the future. Wait, is he Malfoy from the future? Have I just guessed a storyline there? I’m not keen on him, and I am sure he’s going to turn out to be a good guy ultimately, which is going to leave me questioning, ‘why was he such an ass?’ Future books probably elaborate on Snape’s backstory and might change my mind, but for now he feels unnecessarily cruel to Harry and misses opportunities to excuse his behaviour, deciding to be vague and mysterious instead, which might work on Tinder but doesn’t work so well in Hogwarts.
I really didn’t enjoy Hagrid. Pretty much from the get-go. He’s not funny, reading an accent isn’t enjoyable, and he seemed to exist just to cause problems more than anything else. I’ll admit to spending the entire chapter about his dragon egg thinking it was a pointless side-story until it was revealed to be more than that later on. He just doesn’t interest me, much like the Weasley characters. Ron feels like a background character who has been forced in to the limelight and doesn’t really warrant all the attention or even know why he’s there himself.
On the flip side, Hermione feels like she has hero-potential in her, and I was actually surprised at how little she was in this first book. I thought she was going to be a huge part of the story from the very beginning. She never seemed to be in the spotlight much, and I want to know more about her! I have a theory she becomes one of the most powerful witches around in future books, and I am already dying to see her lose the goody-two-shoes act and just unleash on someone like Malfoy (or even Voldemort, how great would that be?)
Speaking of which, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was a brilliant unseen threat throughout the book – but pretty underwhelming in the conclusion. Villains you spend a long time only hearing about can be some of the best, but here he didn’t feel as scary as I expected him to be. His most sinister action was definitely the drinking of the unicorn blood, and that was awesome, but when he was revealed as next season’s headwear he didn’t really seem to pose much of a threat.
I know, I know, he’s weak, and he’s probably going to get a lot better, but for now someone I am inexplicably more interested in is Grindelwald, the wizard Dumbledore defeated years ago. It goes to show how a memorable name can spark your attention – he’s only mentioned a couple of times in the book and I find myself curious about him. I’d love to get more details on these two powerful wizards fighting and how Dumbledore bested him. Is it foreshadowing, or am I just hoping to get more details on an insignificant background character? It’s so hard to tell at this point!
I’m intrigued enough that I’m getting started on the Chamber of Secrets straight away. I have lots of questions, I just hope the story has a little more punch to it now that the basics of the universe have been established. Give me more unicorn blood and I’ll be a happy little camper.
In terms of an end-of-book-one checkpoint: I’m liking Neville, Hermione and Dumbledore. I’m not liking Hagrid, Ron and Snape. My burning questions are:
- Why did Voldemort try to kill Harry?
- Why exactly is Voldemort evil?
- When do I get to see two badass wizards fight?
I’m also wondering, to anyone reading this:
- What thoughts do you remember having while reading the first book?
- What characters did you like/dislike at first, and did that change?
- How did you think the film compared to your vision of the books?
Comments, feedback, etc. all welcome below or in my inbox!