I just finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling. Actually, I listened to it this time around. I have it on audio book read by Jim Dale.
A young man, Harry Potter, who has struggled with feeling unremarkable his whole life, wakes up one day to discover that he has been invited to Hogwarts school of Wizardry. There, he discovers that he is no ordinary boy, that he is the boy who lived, the boy who survived an attack from the most powerful dark wizard that the world has ever known. And what is more remarkable is that he survived the attack and he survived when he was only an infant. Nobody, including Harry, knows how this happened. The book is about Harry's 1st year--of 6 total years--at Hogwarts school of magic and this book marks the beginning of his magic education and battles with Voldemort.
The book was well written. I think that J. K. Rowling is a very talented writer.
The story was well paced.
Harry was very likable and you ended up rooting for him right from the start.
The cast of characters that Rowling created were outstanding: Ron, Hermione, Snape, Dumbledore, and McGonnagal to name a few. Each character had their own personality and worldview.
I liked the mystery that she incorporates and the revelation (the a-ha moments) at the end of the book, when everything was explained.
The book seemed to have a little bit of everything; it was a mystery book, fantasy book and boarding school novel (in the Dickens tradition) all at the same time. I felt like it was a balanced meal with respect to all the things that she incorporated and tried to balance. I think she balanced these elements very well.
A note on Jim Dale's performance. Jim Dale has to be the most talented audio book reader that I've ever heard. He brought these characters to life, much better than the first Harry Potter movie. Jim Dale's performance was truly outstanding!
I felt that the only weakness was that the beginning of the book was a little too silly. I know that it is supposed to be a book for children but the manner in which the Dursley's tried to stop the letters from getting to Harry was too much for me. But once he got to Diagon Alley, all was well.
Young people should read this with their parents (or rather, parents should read this with their children). Harry ends up doing some questionable things--he always seems to be breaking rules to defeat Voldemort. Parents should discuss Harry's choices with their kids and I think that this book provides a great discussion on the value of rules and why we have them. I have a Harry Potter-Nietzchean Superman theory. If you are curious about this, ask me about it the next time you see me (most likely, I already shared this with you).
Overall, I highly recommend the book. It was very entertaining, even the second time around. The book was well written (only the beginning was a little too silly). The book was a great combination of a number of genres and I think that it was balanced well. Good times.