I love Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling for many reasons. There are a lot of little things that add up to make it a fantastic book but I’ll pick three big reasons.
1. This novel tells a story of character growth that lots of people can relate to.
At the beginning Harry is troubled by the people around him – his foster parents and their son Dudley – but he just puts up with it. Then, through his journey to Hogwarts and the adventures he has there, Harry learns how to be confident and stand up for himself, and about making friendships with other kids like Ron and Hermione. By the end of the novel, he goes back to his old foster family for the holidays but he is much more prepared to handle the situation.
2. The writing is clear, so the story is easily understood.
JK Rowling writes with clarity; you can always understand what is going on without having to guess or work with a fuzzy idea in your mind while you wonder about important details. I like it when an author can write clearly enough so that I don’t have to entertain ten different possibilities at once because of ambiguous language. The most important step before I can enjoy a novel is comprehending the story. If the language is over-intellectualised and ambiguous to the point where you have to make up what it might mean, then there is no story to understand. JK Rowling’s clarity is one her strengths and this is evident in the Harry Potter books.
3. The friendship of the main characters is satisfying and memorable.
The friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione is one of my favourite features of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling sets up Harry’s character in the beginning of the book and Ron is introduced on page 104 in my Bloomsbury edition (332 pages). Harry, Ron and Hermione are properly introduced on page 117, just over one third of the way through the book, and this is the first time the three come together in the book. For the rest of the book, Harry, Ron and Hermione face challenges together. Harry’s encounters with other characters in the novel are also well done but Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione is something that I recall fondly and remember most strongly about the book and the film. Ron’s down-to-Earth good humour and Hermione’s intelligence and dedication both to her study and to her friends come together nicely. This friendship is the core that holds much of the plot together, whether they are getting answers out of Hagrid to solve a mystery or being attacked by a troll. I enjoy how the nature of their friendship allows them to both conflict with one another and to work together to solve mental and physical problems, while becoming closer friends along the way.
The Australian Literature Review