(If you have never read this book, please drop all your other books, head to the nearest library/bookstore, and grab the set. Please, please, please! I beg you! You are missing an amazing treat!)
The first book of this series that I read is actually the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That happened after I caught the first raving waves about this series in the newspaper. I ignored the series. The news persisted. Every day, I would hear some gossip or the other about this series. I still ignored the series. After all, the idea of me @ 16 years of age reading this book that I branded "children's book" is indeed laughable! (You can see how obnoxious I was then!) And then, as things usually go, in to this picture comes the proverbial cousin with a copy of the book, literally. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer. So to appease him, I decided to bore myself for a few days with the book. The rest, as they say, is history.
So now, I am re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone after more than two years. Believe it or not, I think I became an adult only recently. The last time I read this book, I lapped it happily. This time though, I got bugged by small nuances that a teenager wouldn't complain about.
- Such as, for the first time, I realized that this book is not written for an audience like me, but for those more than half my age. Which is to be expected, seeing as the protagonists are 11 years old! It's amazing though comparing the first and last books of this series - both in writing quality and in their darkness. The dangers surrounding Harry are only felt tangentially in this book.
- J.K. Rowling's writing is nowhere near as captivating as it is in her later books. That's to be expected, of course, but I had never noticed that before. The ever-prevalent humor still makes me laugh! This series has some very unforgettable humorous quotes. Fred and George are as funny as ever!
- The story rushes through certain parts while strolls lazily through others. Previously, I thought the supporting characters had a great depth! I couldn't feel that now though. That could be because each time I re-read, I was going into the book, already knowing the supporting cast well. Moreover, my first time with this series was with the fourth book, which is the first coming-of-age book in my opinion. When I was reading this time, I made sure I wasn't biased by any of my earlier knowledge. So I can't really blame Chris Columbus for not giving much character to the supporting cast!
- For the first time, I gave it only 4 stars. I had never given it less than 5. I wonder how my ratings of the remaining series will be affected!
"They stuff people's heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall," he told Harry. "Want to come upstairs and practice?"
"No, thanks," said Harry. "The poor toilet's never had anything as horrible as your head down it -- it might be sick." Then he ran, before Dudley could work out what he'd said.
"Fred, you next," the plump woman said.
"I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?"
"Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?" said one of the twins, with an air of great surprise. "You should have said something, we had no idea."
"Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it," said the other twin. "Once --"
"Or twice --"
"A minute --"
"All summer --"
"Oh, shut up," said Percy the Prefect.
"Welcome," he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"
Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.
He thought of Hagrid, expelled but allowed to stay on as gamekeeper. Perhaps he could be Hagrid's assistant. His stomach twisted as he imagined it, watching Ron and the others becoming wizards, while he stumped around the grounds carrying Hagrid's bag.
"Potter's been sent a broomstick, Professor," said Malfoy quickly.
"Yes, yes, that's right," said Professor Flitwick, beaming at Harry. "Professor McGonagall told me all about the special circumstances, Potter. And what model is it?"
"A Nimbus Two Thousand, sir," said Harry, fighting not to laugh at the look of horror on Malfoy's face. "And it's really thanks to Malfoy here that I've got it," he added.
Lee Jordan was finding it difficult not to take sides.
"So -- after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating --"
"Jordan!" growled Professor McGonagall.
"I mean, after that open and revolting foul --"
"Jordan, I'm warning you --"
"All right, all right. Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone, I'm sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinnet, who puts it away, no trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor
still in possession."
"I hate maroon," Ron moaned halfheartedly as he pulled it over his head.
"You haven't got a letter on yours," George observed. "I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid -- we know we're called Gred and Forge."
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."
"It bit me!" he said, showing them his hand, which was wrapped in a bloody handkerchief. "I'm not going to be able to hold a quill for a week. I tell you, that dragon's the most horrible animal I've ever met, but the way Hagrid goes on about it, you'd think it was a fluffy little bunny rabbit. When it bit me he told me off for frightening it. And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby."
"Peeves," he said, in a hoarse whisper, "the Bloody Baron has his own reasons for being invisible."
"Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare... what did Professor Sprout say? -- it likes the dark and the damp
"So light a fire!" Harry choked.
"Yes -- of course -- but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
"HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron bellowed. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"
Ah! Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans! I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one, and since then I'm afraid I've rather lost my liking for them -- but I think I'll be safe with a nice toffee, don't you?"
He smiled and popped the golden-brown bean into his mouth. Then he choked and said, "Alas! Ear wax!"
What do you think? Ever been bugged by this series at any point?
If you haven't read this series yet, what keeps you away from it?