I might be the only person in the world who has publicly announced that she hated Harry Potter. I've read the books when they were first released and I thought they were "okay", but then I saw the movies. And I started to hate Harry - honestly why wasn't Neville the chosen one?
But as always, the lesson is to not judge a book by its movie. And in the case of the first Harry Potter book, the movie is a so-so and the book is pretty great.
The best known story
Do I have to explain the story or plot to anyone? I think most people have either read the books, often obsessively, or seen the films, which follow the story pretty damn closely.
What I do want to highlight here is the depth of the story. I knew it was a children's book and everyone told me that the first book REALLY is written for children. I'm 24, so I saw some issues that could arise from that fact. Truth is, I really barely noticed it. Yes, the language is quite easy and the moral of the story is explicitly explained, but the details in the story were amazing. All characters, whether minor or Harry, get quite a lot of background information. I mean, even Uncle Vernon (though he might be the most boring person alive) had a few pages devoted to him.
Most importantly, Fred and George get more "screen-time". I already loved the twins from the movies, but they are so much better in the books. They help Harry, they are friends with their younger, definitely less cool, brother Ron and give the comic release the reader needs after a while. All I want is MORE FRED AND GEORGE. I don't think I'll ever have enough.
I only had two annoyances with the book (besides the fact that I was it was called Neville and the Philosopher's Stone or Fred/George and the PS).
1. Dumbledore, you can't leave a baby outside a British house for a whole night. It's England - there is rain and snow and wind and overall crap weather. I'm pretty sure that could have killed Harry. Why didn't he ring the doorbell and then *poof* away?
2. I didn't like the last chapters of the book. Once Harry starts his journey towards the stone, everything goes extremely fast. He whizzes past Fluffy, grabs the flying key with only a paragraph of trouble and within three-ish chapters is with the stone. That's really quick. I love the challenges, and the creativity that went into creating them, but I couldn't feel appreciate it, because the pacing was just off for me. I would have preferred less detail about Harry's pre-Hogwarts life (especially since we get more of that in later books anyway) and more focus on the challenge.
Harry as a character
So has this Harry-hater converted? Not completely. I definitely adored the book more than the movie and book Harry is a whole lot less annoying than movie Harry, but still. Harry is kinda daft isn't he? He's not very focused on school, doesn't really try hard to get better and when it comes to the challenges, he needs all the help he can get to figure stuff out. You're good on a broom, great - very airhead footballer stereotype. I wish Harry would have been more of a hero in this story and would already show why he's special. Maybe that will happen in the later books.
I'm a bit conflicted about what rating to give this book. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the story. There were so many wonderful details that really sucked you into the story and made you believe in the magic. On the other hand, Harry did kind of let me down. So it's not a perfect 5 - I'll go for a 4.