Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone

Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 18, 2000

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

On January 18th, a dozen readers met to discuss Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Our group included two persons who had not previously attended one of our meetings, one of whom was an 8-year-old.

Our normal discussion leader was in Houston for family reasons, so I was drafted into taking notes. Unfortunately, my notes are in a box somewhere in my new house so I must attempt to reconstruct the meeting from a cold-obscured memory.

Everyone liked the book (in fact, some loved the book), but some expressed various reservations. A few were disappointed and felt it didn’t live up to its bestseller hype. The counter argument to this was that few books on the bestseller list live up to their hype and that this particular entry on the list was more worthy than most.

We also argued about some perceived moral ambiguities. One reader felt that with all their other courses, the students at Hogwarts should be studying the ethics of magic. There was also some concern expressed about how Harry and his friends break rules, and we disagreed on several plot points: for example, some said that all the adults were stupid so the children had to do extraordinary things, while others argued that the adults were not necessarily foolish, merely misinformed.

We also discussed the various levels of the story: an English boarding school novel, a fantasy quest, a mystery, and even a sports story. Some of our discussion members who are interested in writing also noted that the book had an interesting structure — every chapter advances the plot by two major points, giving readers a double punch and a feeling that the story keeps moving with no real lag time.

We also discussed the probable intended age level for this novel, but without my notes, I hesitate to elaborate on the part of the discussion. Likewise, we discussed other sf/fantasy books and authors that might be appropriate for younger readers who enjoyed this one.

Some members of the group had already read later books in the series, while other folks would like to read the next book but can wait for its paperback release.

All in all, a worthwhile book, especially for younger readers and other folks interested in fantasy books.

— Lori Wolf