My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A wonderful classic and we all know it. For this, my second time reading (over a decade later) I’m just going to point out what I missed the first time.
Good: JK’s ability to plan ahead borders on premonition. I’m sure she didn’t have every detail of all seven books flushed out while writing this one, so I am left to believe in her remarkable talent for knowing which details would be important to use later. Seeing small details now, which I know come back in big ways later on, I’m in awe of her foresight. I’m also impressed at her courage to proffer a new iteration of the classic hero archetype. Many criticize the similarities to Star Wars or Tolkien, without realizing that the framework for a hero’s journey has been reused for longer than our literature has even recorded, and it is always the mantle of just about one author per generation to bring that story to a new audience. Rowling admirably takes up this mantle with Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, and I have a feeling the rest of the series will not disappoint either, in this my second run-through.
Less Good: Forgive the heresy, but this is not a literary masterpiece. Rowling is prone to descriptive shortcuts in the prose, and even considering that this is written as a children’s book her technique just isn’t flawless. And neither is her universe: if you’re looking for a fantasy world to establish rules and stick to them rigorously, then I’m sure you already know this isn’t it. Best to judge this book on it’s contribution to culture rather than to its own genre.