Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Review

Audiobook versions of the Harry Potter series have been getting passed around at work. I've just finished listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I haven't read the book before; only seen the movie. I've been a little disappointed by both. Spoilers follow.

I first saw the movie several years ago. I basically enjoyed it: good story, a fantasy setting filled with magic, characters that turn into good friends--I can certainly see why it was well-received.

My problem with the movie was that at the end a relatively minor and undeveloped character suddenly becomes important: Professor Quirrell. Throughout the movie he plays a small part as a nervous, shy, and squirrelly teacher. His biggest parts are when Professor Snape is harassing him. Since the story is seen through Harry's eyes (more or less), we get to see how he sees Snape as the bad guy. I suppose the goal of turning a different character (Quirrell) into the bad guy is so that the reader (or listener or viewer) will be surprised at the twist, but in my opinion it just becomes a poor story because the author couldn't find a clearer way to wrap it up with the characters who have already received focus.

Fortunately, everyone I expressed this sentiment to explained that they understood my complaint with the movie, and that the book did a much better job of Quirrell's character development. That sounded quite reasonable to me: screenplays often cut important parts out of books to keep the movie a reasonable length.

And so, as I started out, I'm listening to the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone audiobook. Through most of the story, my only complaint (if you can call it that) is that the book is written for young kids, probably at a fourth grade reading level. But then, that is the target audience!

Eventually, however, I started to realize just how little attention Quirrell was receiving. I kept expecting that in the next chapter he would receive more explanation and development. But it never came. Again, I'm led to believe Snape is most likely the bad guy. And again, I'm disappointed that a minor character with very little development is given such a large focus at the end.

To be fair, however, I feel like the final confrontation between Quirrell and Harry is much less climatic in the book than movie. In the book, it's little more than another adventure that happens to have been on his mind through the whole story, and it's an event that allows the book to wrap up nicely. Conversely, the movie was very much building towards this big confrontation and only when it's over can the movie end.

On to Chamber of Secrets--I never read that one, either!

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