2017: Re-read (obviously!), though it's my first time on audio. Listening to the Jim Dale version, and LOVING it! This 'review' will essentially consist of my thoughts on the audio experience, and just random insights from re-reading Harry Potter after all these years.
I’ve admit that the first thing that really struck me this time, while I was revisiting this book again, was the not-so-tiny detail/fact of how old our favorite trio were (or rather how young). Yes, I know, I know, it’s common knowledge that they were 11 when this series started, but hear me out…
When I first read this book series, I was 13, so 11 seemed like an acceptable age to be fighting trolls, basilisks & monsters of all sorts really, not to mention the most powerful dark wizard of all time. But now that I’m older and wiser (mostly just older) with a 5 year old of my own, it seems overwhelming how much these kids went through (and conquered) at such a young age. Funny how time can completely change our perspective, right?
Secondly, it was interesting to see the seeds of the Ron-Hermoine relationship being sown as early as the second book. Mostly because when I first read the book series, I was kinda bummed that Harry & Hermoine were not together, as I felt like they would have made the ultimate power couple. Of-course that changed, and over time I was completely on-board the Ron-Hermoine ship, because that pairing just felt right. But now reading the beginning of their relationship again, it makes me wonder how I never saw that Ron & Hermoine were always meant to be together.
The second book of this much adored series of YA Fantasy starts off with Harry back at the Dursleys for the summer holidays, but this time, feeling even more unloved and unwanted than usual, a surprising visitor appears in his bedroom. It does not take long for Harry to determine why none of his friends have made contact with him over the break. The truth is, they have, in record numbers even, but the said ’surprising visitor’ has been collecting all traces of contact from Harry’s friends without passing them on.
The visitor turns out to be Dobby the House Elf, who has taken it upon himself to prevent Harry’s return to Hogwarts. He is of the opinion that a murder attempt will be made on Harry if he does, but either out of ignorance, or protection for Harry, the elf is unable to provide any more information. Interestingly, at this point, the elf disappears from the story...
As we all know, friends aren’t friends without faith, so out of the blue, just when Harry needs him most, the much welcome face of Ron Weasley appears at Harry’s bedroom window with the last opportunity for him to escape to sanity (?) and spend the last few weeks of Summer at Ron’s house before returning to Castle Magnificence, also known as Hogwarts School of Witch Craft and Wizardry.
Time passes. Jokes are made. Friendships deepen into something more. And off to Hogwarts we go. Well, some of us. The first glimpse of JK Rowling’s genius occurs at this point in the story, when Ron comes up with the only way for he and Harry to arrive at Hogwarts after the unthinkable happens.
The Malfoys are back, meaner and nastier than ever. Harry and Co are all in their second year now, which means the story has the chance to introduce new characters. Ron’s little sister in one of them, and she (naturally) gets put into Gryffindor, too. Snape is back, but he has lost his position as Darks Arts Instructor. A rather annoying narcissist going by the name of Gilderoy Lockhart (where *does* JK get her character names from???) has got his hands on the plum role but doubts soon rise to the surface of everyone present at the castle of his competence in this area.
Sub plots abound. Jokes are there, too, and of course, fun is to be had by all. Hermoine is still trying to be Hermoine (which is great for her, and great for the reader, since *we* all learn what *she* learns...) and the catalog of spells for the reader continues to grow...
The title of the book is compelling enough, even though the reader may not have realised its pivotal connotations. But with the continued existence and perpetual threat of He Who Must Not Be Named hanging over the School and everything it stands for, it is not too hard to imagine how it might all come together.
So full marks again for Ms Rowling, the woman who put the wonder back into reading, the fun back into learning, and the magic back into Wizardry.
This books dives a lot deeper into the Wizarding World. We learn a lot more about Ron and his family – where they live etc. We find out more about the differences between magical and non-magical worlds. There’s also a large emphasis on the creation of Hogwarts and its history, how it was formed and the troubles it’s faced. In this book people really start to turn on Harry. We see the fierce loyalty that Hermione and Ron have for Harry which is a strong theme in the series. This book builds (slowly in the beginning) into a fantastic and crushing climax with a feel good ending – I recommend it. More so than the second. This is actually the first Harry Potter book I ever read. Okay I have given you a brief introduction. Go read it!