First Impressions of Harry Potter

I think I'm in a pretty rare situation. Before a couple of months ago, I had never (and no desire to) read any of the Harry Potter books. I had also only seen the first film, and wasn't that into it. Not really sure why.

But when Asda was selling the 20th anniversary editions of the books for only £3, I couldn't resist. My thought process was basically it's cheap so why not. And here we are!

I didn't have that much to say about The Philosopher's Stone so I thought I'd combine my review of the first two books in one 'first impressions' post. Hope you like it!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

As I mentioned, I had seen the first film of the series a few years ago and was familiar with the story. Because of this, I was a bit underwhelmed with the book because I knew exactly what was coming - there was no element of surprise. However I fell in love with Hogwarts and the magic that surrounds it. My favourite aspect of The Philosopher's Stone was learning more and more about the world and how it all works. It's definitely not like anything I've read before!

I follow a bunch of bookstagrammers who absolutely LOVE Harry Potter and when I've spoken to a few of them about the series, they always seem to emphasise how the character development is their favourite part. However from reading the first book, I never picked up on any character development at all. It seemed very static and predictable, so hopefully it will get better in that respect.

Before I started reading it, I spoke to my older sister who was at the perfect age to grow up with the series and therefore absolutely loved it as well. We spoke about how I might be put off by the writing style because it's definitely quite juvenile and childish, and we were completely right. Sometimes I got a bit annoyed with how patronising the writing was, but had to remind myself I wasn't the target audience and that's okay.

So, yeah. I wasn't completely won over by The Philosopher's Stone and was debating even starting the next book because I was sure it wasn't for me. I think I felt it was too 'young' and a bit boring at times, but I loved the world so much I knew I should persevere with it. And I'm so glad I did!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Chamber of Secrets was DEFINITELY better than the Philosopher's Stone, and I have so much more to say about it.

A turning point for me when reading this series was the second half of The Chamber of Secrets. As soon as the pace picked up and the plot got a bit darker, I was hooked. I knew that I would enjoy the rest of the series if it keeps getting darker!

Because of this 'dark' storyline, I did seriously consider how TCOS is genuinely terrifying for younger readers. The scene with the spiders in the forest? HORRIFIC. The scene with the huge snake slithering about like no ones business? THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES. Even I at the age of nearly-20 was a little scared! The detail in both of these scenes made it quite difficult to read at night time, so I can only imagine the effect it would have on the target audience of 10 and 11 year olds! I felt like the jump from TPS to TCOS in terms of whether it was PG or not was HUGE. TPS felt very child friendly whilst there should have been some sort of parental guidance warning on TCOS!

Now, my favourite characters. Something I really enjoyed following was the #girlpower throughout this book, namely with Hermoine. I absolutely loved how she was the one to figure out that the basilisk was in the pipes and it took the boys AGES after she had been petrified to clock on as well. And even so, they didn't realise until they read a note in Hermoine's hand. What an icon.

However, having said this, after reading Rowling's Goodreads profile it became apparent that the target audience is young boys. BOYS?! I know this book was written a long time ago but HELLO? I think all pre-teen girls should read TCOS purely because of Hermoine.

I also think Moaning Myrtle deserves an honourable mention. She is just great.

Unfortunately, I find Harry a bit annoying. The only thing I positively like about his character is his cute relationship with Dumbledore. I'm a massive fan of healthy father-son relationships, and Rowling definitely shows the development in their relationship. Harry seems quite up himself and always has to solve the mystery/adventure by himself when he is obviously not the most capable. Harry left Ron behind before the climax in BOTH books. Pfft.

I love it when a book plants clues throughout the whole story and then ties everything together at the end. Things like the reflections, looking through the ghost, Harry hearing it around the school really made the basilisk more interesting to me. However there were absolutely no hints about Ginny being the culprit. Maybe that was to shock the reader but it just seems odd how there were so many well-thought-out clues about the basilisk and absolutely none about Ginny. Did Rowling decide halfway through that she was going to make Ginny the bad guy? As an older reader it was a little unsatisfying.


Overall I cannot wait to read the rest of the series, especially if it keeps getting darker. Which book is your favourite?


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