Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
This isn’t exactly a book review — it is so hard to review such an iconic book. This is more about the experience of re-reading Harry Potter after so many years.
Our local library is an amazing place, and this year, they have started a Book Geeks reading club aimed at adults, where our goal is to read and talk about one of the Harry Potter books each month. We had our first meeting earlier this month and it was so much fun. There was a group of us, all who were excited to geek out about Harry Potter.
I was an adult when Harry Potter first came out and I decided to pick it up because I knew I’d never be able to talk to my niece and nephew again if I didn’t because all of their conversation revolved around it. Instantly, I was hooked and raced through the books as they came out.
Re-reading The Philosopher’s Stone now was so much fun. I could look at what Rowling wrote in the context of the whole series and see the brilliance of it. Not only is it an entertaining and exciting book in it’s own right, full of interesting characters and battles between good and evil, but it set up the whole series. I was so impressed by things I would never have noticed all of those years ago, like mentions of characters important in the next books, and themes and story arcs that are integral to the whole series. Rowling’s vision for her series is masterful. I’ve recently heard that Rowling wrote the end of the last book before she ever wrote the first word of the first book — an impressive feat, but this certainly is what unifies the series so beautifully.
What is there to say, really? The Philosopher’s Stone, even 20 years after it was published, is still one of the best middle grade books out there. It is timeless. My daughter recently started reading this series herself and she is as excited about it now as my niece and nephew were all of those years ago.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
I was so excited to get this book when it came out and I wanted to love it so much, but I have to say I didn’t. I didn’t exactly hate it either because it was missing that Harry Potter magic that we’ve all come to expect from this series.
It was fun to delve into a play, something I hadn’t done in quite awhile, which also made it a quick read. I enjoyed visualizing what the scenes would look like on the stage — and according to the stage directions, the play must be spectacular.
But I did find the story lacking. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the whole story was missing a major villain, someone the reader could really hate, someone along the lines of Voldemort. There was an antagonist, but they just didn’t seem evil enough for the Harry Potter universe.
The other strange thing was the lack of magic.
Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the relationship between Harry and his son. It just felt wrong. Harry knew what it was like not to fit in and be bullied and yet he seemed to have very little sympathy for his own son.
My favourite characters in the story, by far, is Draco Malfoy, followed closely by Ron Weasley.
Overall, I did enjoy The Cursed Child, but found it lacking at the same time.