Everything amazing has to have a beginning.
I remember when these books first came out and how quickly they were dismissed by a lot of people (including myself), as "children's books". As if there is anything wrong with that. But back then, there was not A LOT of these type of stories that were mainstream. Yes, you could read The LotR or Chronicles of Narnia, but I don’t remember there being a lot of new stories that people were reading. This was before the Hunger Games, and even before that pile of garbage Twilight. This book is almost 20 years old. It can almost vote at this point. Crazy.
I went on a date with someone and she wanted to see this movie. I was like, why? But as I said above, I was convinced it was just a kid’s book. The movie opened my eyes to something that I was not expecting. I was hooked and I went out and immediately bought the first four books (which were what had been written at the time).
This started the resurgence of fantasy novels for young readers, which is something that cannot be understated in its importance. Yes, there were other stories, but the Potter phenomenon was insane.
But to the story itself. We are introduced to Harry Potter, a young child that somehow survived the attack by the most notorious wizard in the world, Voldemort. Y he his living with his only surviving relatives the Dursley's. They treat him pretty poorly as they hate anything that comes from that "world". Everything changes when he receives a letter a school called Hogwarts.
So, in the first book we are introduced to this world. So, there is a lot of setup for the reader as you get acclimated with the setting and everything that comes with that is something to remember as the series goes on, cuz I love this book, but it is one of the weakest in the series. That isn't meant as an insult as this book was clearly written for children and is the most safe. I have no issue with that as I said above, there was a lot of setup in this book. Which is handled brilliantly by J. K. Rowling.
The Four Houses, the different types of classes each kid had to take due to the different types of magic, Quidditch, and Hogwarts itself are just a few of the things she did such an amazing job introducing you to. These things are improved upon by later books, but she did an amazing job in this book of setting up the world. That isn't an easy thing to do and she nailed it.
Theme is another important part of this book. You have a child that has his parents murdered when he was a baby, and grew up in a household where they treat him poorly. He lives under the cupboard for heaven's sake. Now to defend the Dursley's they did take him in, fed him, and gave him a home. But they were not friendly, and although Harry did not have a pleasant childhood leading up to his 11th birthday, he made the best of it. Somehow he was a normal kid, and that in itself is amazing.
One of the reasons both children and adults connected with this book is that we all remember what it was like to be that age. Trying to fit in and figure out who you are. These are things that we all understand and were able to relate to. I find that an amazing thing as making books that both a 5 year old kid could love, and a 45 year old man (like myself) can love, is a very hard thing to go. But people of all ages, sex, race, etc...love this book.
But the biggest importance (in my opinion), is that it turned whole new generations into readers. That isn’t to say that there may not have been other books that could have done this in a smaller way, but this book (and the rest of the series) grabbed children’s heart and just would not let go. You hear so many stories about how so many people grew up with this series. Not to mention all of the young adult books that came out after it. Some of them being great, and others just trying to capitalize on the new craze. I am looking at YOU Eragon. Must be nice to have parents that are publishers.
But the love and passion children had for this book was crazy. You could not go ANYWHERE without seeing children reading it. That also goes for adults, as they were also reading this book quite often. This became even more evident when I moved to NYC in 2003 and started taking the train. At that point Order of the Phoenix had just come out and that book was EVERYWHERE on the subway. It was kind of surreal to see all of these people reading something so…nerdy.
But as the opening of a series, this was a great book. Not my favorite by far in the series, but that is ok as well. The twist ending? The relationship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione? Snape? Malfoy? So much awesome in this book and it sent me and others on a path to something we will forever love.
I would rate the book 7 out of 10
I would rate the movie also 7 out of 10