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Showing 1-10 of 68 reviews(2 star). See all 6,501 reviews
on June 28, 2016
The book was in very bad shape with yellowed pages and broken spine. Not worth the price I paid.
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on January 8, 2002
I'm so weary of "Rowling Can Do No Wrong" reviews. Whether you liked it or not, you must admit that the names Muggles and Harry Potter were found originally in the works of "The Legend Of RAH And The Muggles" and other works by Nancy K Stouffer. I haven't read her book yet, but feel it necessary to share this because of the censorship of truth by those in power. I have no axe to grind, just a desire for truth.
I've read this book and seen the movie. If you like violence perpetrated to and by children, you'll especially love the film version. When Harry kills his teacher, (or was that the love of Harry's mum that killed him?) the death is reminiscent of the Mummy flick with Brandon Frazier. Also look for the Star Wars Chess set adapted for this story.
The story isn't half bad. It's about a kid named Harry (not Larry) Potter who leaves his.. um.. muggle (tm) family (who are very evil and mean and don't practice or believe in witchcraft) and goes to school to study witchcraft and the occult to develop his skills. This school of witchcraft becomes his new nice family though many would like to see him dead there too. Nearly everyone in the story has some kind of magical powers, at least once you leave the train station. After that it becomes kind of a quest story.
It's also another story about faithful friendship which is a good message. It also has one good profound moment involving the Mirror of Erised. If you view either the film or the book, I recommend the book because the violence wasn't nearly as graphic in my mind, and the book doesn't seem as long. They don't leave out much detail that I could think of. They even included the part where wots-his-name takes the blood of the unicorn to sustain his life.
If you like fantasy, you might choose to read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," by C.S. Lewis, or any of the Chronicles of Narnia. This hasn't been promoted by the public schools or by big companies. At least not in my lifetime. But every page is full of beauty and truth and it's a real work of art. Forgive my descenting view, but I've never been one for following the masses.
CC
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on December 3, 2001
In anticipation of the movie, and just in an attempt to keep up with popular culture, I picked up and read the first two books of the Harry Potter series. At first, they seemed enjoyable, and they definately held my interest. They are obviously children's books, and I am keeping this in mind, but there are two glaring problems with these books:
1. All the characters, whether good and evil, all sneak around and cheat to accomplish their aims. There are generally no consequences, or else the consequences don't match the deceit involved. Harry Potter and his friends (the good guys) constantly sneak around, lie, and steal to do whatever it is they need to do. When caught, they manage to miss the most severe punishment or else get off scott free. There are two problems with this: First, it just gets annoying after a while to see every plot twist accomplished by a "good" character acting this way, especially when they are kids, and second (and more importantly), Is this the message we want to send to the millions of young kids who read these books?
2. Rowling constantly employs Deus ex Machina to solve plot problems. Harry Potter is extraorinarily passive. At first, he is at the mercy of the evil Dursleys, and then of Hagrid, and then of bullies at Hogwarts, then the teachers there, then the bad guys. He is always "getting into situations" from which he must be extracted with strained plot twists. Someone comes along to save the day, or whatever it might be. After a while, this becomes extremely tedious to read. Harry Potter is contantly in the middle of situations he didn't create for himself. He is blamed for doing things he didn't do; he is at the wrong place at the wrong time; a teacher or fellow student hates him for no apparent reason. All of this adds up to a storyline full of holes.
I gave it two stars because, in spite of all this, the books did hold my attention, and Ms. Rowling is, I think, good at writing (if not storytelling).
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on November 12, 2001
Although deeply flawed, this book did manage finally to entertain. The story is remarkable in that it trusts children with a sense of the foreboding and isn't afraid to disturb them with dark imagery. Considering the truly frightening nature of certain of our most cherished fairy-tales, I suspect that this trust is not misplaced; it is, however, in little evidence elsewhere.
For example, I found the book remarkably pedestrian for a work of fantasy. Elements of magic and fairy-tale tend toward the silly rather than the fantastic, and almost never evoke the sense of awe and wonder that good fantasy should. Funny names like "Hogwart's" and "muggle" are amusing, but little more; common magical conceits like witches' brooms are familiar, but therefore also mundane. The half-twist ending did surprise me, but only because the rest of the story convinced me that the author wasn't truly capable of doing so--or perhaps didn't bother trying otherwise, considering her audience.
Why cheat (rather than challenge) a child's sense of the wonderful if one is willing to (uncharacteristically) trust her sense of the horrible?
But, in the end, the book's core tale of schooltime friendship and adventure manages to shine through, and when considered as a work of English boarding-school fiction rather than fantasy, it enjoys more than mild success.
If you're looking for a great work of children's fantasy you may want to search elsewhere; if you're looking to kill a few hours with an enjoyable read, then "Sorcerer's Stone" could work for you.
It's good fun at the very least, and certainly most kids will find it so.
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on November 9, 2001
I think the real appeal of this book - why millions of all ages have been drawn to it - is its strong basic theme. It's the story of an abused and under-appreciated person being recognized for his true inner greatness. It's easy to relate to because this greatness lives within each of us, and this story gives us hope that maybe...someday...our own greatness will be recognized.
My problem with this book is that this great theme - this classic theme - is rendered into a weak story. The Hobbit works off the same theme, but J.R.R Tolkien weaves his story with far more finesse. The Hobbit's character development is slow and subtle, with depth and insight. Harry Potter, on the other hand, goes from being a miserable, abused, depressed kid to being a worshipped bigshot in a matter of two pages, which amounts to the entire character development in the story. To make matters worse, the entire shift happens through no work or perseverance of his own. Bilbo Baggins has to work and has to face real emotional challenges...and you grow to respect him for it. Harry Potter: he's essentially the same character at page 50 and page 310.
And the Hobbit...what tension in the story! It followed an emotional arc, slowly unfolding, with the unique and many-sided characters become increasingly lovable and admirable. Harry Potter lacked this tension, being dull and unsuspenseful by comparison. I found myself not really caring what happened in the end, and not really being emotionally drawn to any of the characters. I'll probably forget their names in a few days... I remember the Hobbit's characters' names years later.
And Harry Potter: it read like a trivia book...tons and tons of irrelevant names and details and characters and side stories. It just felt like fluff...the kind kids like to read and amass...but doesn't make for an enduring book.
And last extremely annoying point: why is it that a bunch of completely untrained 11 year olds are able to use better magic and logic and intelligence than the greatest wizards and witches in the world? It makes for a cute story, but not a cohesive one.
So all in all, I predict that this book - and series, from what I can guess - will not become a classic, not even remotely in the same boat as the Hobbit or James and the Giant Peach or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...
If you really want to read a good book, don't buy the hype and read this one...there are others that are better.
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on November 8, 2001
I've debated writing this review for some time now, but at last I think I can summarize what my thoughts are on this book. Be forewarned beforehand that I'm a Christian (Oh no! One of them! *crowd hisses*), but don't let that fool ya, I'm actually a decent guy.
I don't know when this book was written, but what I do know is that the media has innundated us with it. You know what I'm talking about...Harry Potter books, t-shirts, puzzles, toys, lunchboxes, and more paraphenilia than you can shake a broomstick at. This I think is amplified when you have Jerry Falwell banging on a podium (where 99% of the rest of we Christians hold our collective breaths and hope he doesn't say something embarrassing) and calling it evil. After well over a year of seeing this constant deluge of "Harry Potter is sooooo wonderful!" hooplah, I finally gave in and grabbed my niece's copy of it, and sat down one weekend to see what all the fuss was about.
At the end of the weekend I looked up from the last page and thought to myself, "Did I miss something?". That was the experience for me...I walked away from it one single word on my mind. Hype. Now before I'm accused of being a closed-minded witch hater, there's a few things here that should be cleared up before some of the fans here burn me at the stake.
The plot is a bit hazy at times. It gels up at small certain times throughout the book, but never really solidifies until the end. This isn't to say JK Rowling is a bad author (or authoress, if you will)...there are times within the book where her talent really shines through. She, to me, has a special gift for describing places and people especially, making images of them come to mind without effort. But let's face it...the people within the book are pure stereotype. The kids are either all good or evil, no in between whatsoever, and the adults are just plain inept. And to the chagrin of all the fans here, let me say I didn't really much care for the character of Harry Potter himself. There is no stoic character there, just a mouthy one who, in my humble opinion, goes looking for trouble. I liked Ron best of the children, just a good all round kid, followed by Hermione, much the same. But I never did quite get a good connection with any of the others to be honest.
The "adults" running the school, including the headmaster, are portrayed for the most part as simpletons, unaware of some of the most blatant activities taking part practically right in front of them.
Before I get lambasted, I understand this is a children's book. I went into this thing with an open mind, expecting a really gripping story and plentiful visualizing. But the book was only partially successful in this to me. I'd sooner recommend the Narnia series or Lord of the Rings, but there seems to be a large enough CS Lewis vs. JK Rowling slugfest going on as it is.
And before I cease my diatribe, I'll shortly explain that the reason that the average Christian doesn't recommend this book is because it's forbidden for us to dabble in the black arts. That's generally accepted as the domain of "the other guy", and so witchcraft is chronically avoided. So when a book or series of books comes out that candy coats the subject, making it more palatable for young minds (and more than a few parents), we instantly go on our guard. Bear in mind that 99% of us don't think Teletubbies or Barney are evil. Just annoying. ;)
It's not personal against anyone who reads and likes this book or the remainder of the series. My niece tells me that of the 4 released books, this is probably the most non-thrilling one, and proclaims that the next 2 are the best. But after this I just don't have the desire to read anymore of them. Thanks for your time. :)
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on November 8, 2001
I've debated writing this review for some time now, but at last I think I can summarize what my thoughts are on this book. Be forewarned beforehand that I'm a Christian (Oh no! One of them! *crowd hisses*), but don't let that fool ya, I'm actually a decent guy.
I don't know when this book was written, but what I do know is that the media has innundated us with it. You know what I'm talking about...Harry Potter books, t-shirts, puzzles, toys, lunchboxes, and more paraphenilia than you can shake a broomstick at. This I think is amplified when you have Jerry Falwell banging on a podium (where 99% of the rest of we Christians hold our collective breaths and hope he doesn't say something embarrassing) and calling it evil. After well over a year of seeing this constant deluge of "Harry Potter is sooooo wonderful!" hooplah, I finally gave in and grabbed my niece's copy of it, and sat down one weekend to see what all the fuss was about.
At the end of the weekend I looked up from the last page and thought to myself, "Did I miss something?". That was the experience for me...I walked away from it one single word on my mind. Hype. Now before I'm accused of being a closed-minded witch hater, there's a few things here that should be cleared up before some of the fans here burn me at the stake.
The plot is a bit hazy at times. It gels up at small certain times throughout the book, but never really solidifies until the end. This isn't to say JK Rowling is a bad author (or authoress, if you will)...there are times within the book where her talent really shines through. She, to me, has a special gift for describing places and people especially, making images of them come to mind without effort. But let's face it...the people within the book are pure stereotype. The kids are either all good or evil, no in between whatsoever, and the adults are just plain inept. And to the chagrin of all the fans here, let me say I didn't really much care for the character of Harry Potter himself. There is no stoic character there, just a mouthy one who, in my humble opinion, goes looking for trouble. I liked Ron best of the children, just a good all round kid, followed by Hermione, much the same. But I never did quite get a good connection with any of the others to be honest.
The "adults" running the school, including the headmaster, are portrayed for the most part as simpletons, unaware of some of the most blatant activities taking part practically right in front of them.
Before I get lambasted, I understand this is a children's book. I went into this thing with an open mind, expecting a really gripping story and plentiful visualizing. But the book was only partially successful in this to me. I'd sooner recommend the Narnia series or Lord of the Rings, but there seems to be a large enough CS Lewis vs. JK Rowling slugfest going on as it is.
And before I cease my diatribe, I'll shortly explain that the reason that the average Christian doesn't recommend this book is because it's forbidden for us (and Jews as well) to dabble in the black arts. That's generally accepted as the domain of "the other guy", and so witchcraft is chronically avoided. So when a book or series of books comes out that candy coats the subject, making it more palatable for young minds (and more than a few parents), we instantly go on our guard. Bear in mind that 99% of us don't think Teletubbies or Barney are evil. Just annoying. ;)
It's not personal against anyone who reads and likes this book or the remainder of the series. My niece tells me that of the 4 released books, this is probably the most non-thrilling one, and proclaims that the next 2 are the best. But after this I just don't have the desire to read anymore of them. Thanks for your time :)
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on October 9, 2001
Every so often, I stumble across a book that really leaves a lasting impression on me. Every so often, I read a book and exclaim 'Wow! I'd never be able to do that.' This is not one of those books. Rowling has succeeded in creating a vivid imaginary world filled with magic and suspence, but she's failed to deliver feeling to the world she made. What's more, I find myself sourly dissapointed with the lack of originality. The 'magic school' has been done before. And it has been done better. Unfortunatly, I couldn't relate to any of the characters, didn't find any ideas that really sparked my imagination.
Read fantasy filled with imagery and meaning. Not a two-demensional story about a boy who finds out he's a wizard. Worth the money? This book isn't worth a penny. Borrow it from a friend, go to the library. You know what, while you're there, forget about Harry Potter - it's a waste of time. Pick up some truly fun, thought-provoking, and imaginative works. Explore the worlds of Narnia (C.S Lewis), Westermark (Llyod Alexander), and Earth two hundred years into the future (Ender's Game: Battle SCHOOL, anyone? Orson Scott Card).
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on August 29, 2001
This is the type of book I find difficult to review. When I read a "children's" book, I'm not sure how I should approach it. Do I go in with the mind-set of a child, or do I look at it from an adult view to examine how effective it is for a child? I usually try to do a little of both, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.
In the case of Harry Potter, I wanted to see what effect this story would have on a child, probably someone in the 10 - 15 year-old range. First off, let me say that having children of my own, I've read my share of children's books - from the early stories of Clifford to the later adventures in baby-sitting. So I've been exposed to all levels of children's books. What I found with HP was disappointing for the most part. The story starts very slow, a younger child (say around 8 - 10) will probably have a difficult time getting started. I even found it not easy to get involved with the story. The only reason I stayed with it was because I was determined to see what all the hype was about. Any child less determined will probably put it down and (hopefully) choose another story. And part of the storytelling is definitely geared towards an older reader. Thus leaving the younger reader confused - another reason to abandon this book. It isn't until you're about one-third into the story that it becomes interesting. But what child is going to stick with it until then?
So here we have a problem, the story is written in a manner to appeal to younger children. It doesn't get involved with character development aside from the basic stereotypical characters that you can find on TV shows. So its simplistic plot and syntax make it relatively easy for a younger reader. But the pace that the story starts in, with vague plot discussions, is enough to discourage many readers. The beginning of the book seems to have been written with an older reader in mind, and then given up for a much younger audience. If this book is trying to appeal to readers of both a younger an older age group, it fails on both ends. It is difficult to tell a story in only one manner that both a younger and an older person would find as enjoyable.
So what about the story itself? I'll admit there were a few surprises in it for me, but for the most part it's very simple. Once Harry gets to wizard's school you could substitute his adventures for any child's starting a new school. What happens to Harry, magic aside, happens to anybody. His friends, teachers and enemies are all taken from anyone's childhood days. His story is not any different than yours or mine.
So, could I recommend this book? Probably not. I would say that if you're interested in what all the Harry Potter hype is about then read it. One advantage to it being directed towards children is it's a fairly quick read for an adult. So you don't feel too bad taking a couple of days to read it. But if you're looking for a good story that's well written, regardless of who the target audience is, then I would say skip it. It didn't interest me enough to want to keep reading the series and it probably won't interest you either.
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on August 21, 2001
Harry Potter. We've all heard it, all been trapped in the craze. Or have we? I must say that I was terribly dissapointed in this book. I may just sound like another person that LOVES to oppose EVERYTHING. But I truly don't think this novel deserves the hype that surrounds it. Don't get me wrong - it is a wonderful childrens' book and introduction to fantasy. Certainly NOT the best, but decent.
Why the two stars then? I found that this book lacks the general complexity and 'real' feeling that I love a good fantasy to portray. I'm no forty-year old mother that reads "Lord of the Rings" in her spare time. I'm twelve, and this book really, really, stinks. Give me a break - I fail to find the complexity and exitement in something as bland and over-used as the concept of 'magic school'. Take any random fantasy off the shelf, and there's a 6/10 chance you'll pull out a book about an orphan, mistreated boy/girl that's transported to a time and place where magic abounds, and their new 'talent' is amazingly powerful!
Step two - the characters. Horribly two dimensional! Harry and Ron don't really seem to have much character or personality. There's a few Rowling twists and turns to add to the-almost-nothing originality of the story, but other than that...I can't see what's so amazing about this book! The vocabulary is stale (sure, it's made for kids, but they understand a bit more than you think!). The imagery is null.
Harry Potter = A ZERO in my book. GOOD BOOKS = Ender's Game, Chronicals of Narnia, Hero and the Crown, Last Book in the Univers (original, if not perfectly written), The High King...ect, ect...
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