Me and my friend decided to do a literary exchange this year. The plan is to lend each other five of our favourite books that the other hasn't read. To start I lent her Flowers for Algernon and she lent me Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Now I've seen the films and pretty much everyone in the English-speaking world knows the story, but I thought I'd try and read it with an open mind. I can't lie; it was better than I expected.
So I thought in continuing the way I read it, I'd write a few words on the book as if it weren't some huge cultural phenomenon - as if it were an unknown story.
The first thing that strikes is how solid an imagination J.K. Rowling has, and how good a sense she has of what will appeal to children. There's a bit of something for everyone. There's classic escapism. There's a sense of there being more to life. There's some entertaining characters and best of all there's magic.
For a children's book it's a great little read. There are flaws, most of which I overlooked seeing as it's intended for children. Everything that happens is fantastically convenient. The writing isn't exactly brilliant and the dialogue is often clunky and full of clumsy exposition. Most of all I found the sense of right and wrong in the book to be too clear-cut. Characters are either very, very good or incredibly evil and malicious. But as I said, it is meant for children.
Overall I preferred Artemis Fowl. It has a better plot and the character of Artemis is far superior to Harry. Still, I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and I'm sure if J.K. Rowling ever pens a sequel I'll give it a read.