You know I actually did try to read this when it first came out, however many decades ago. I gave up about halfway through like Eh, who cares, boring. It’s a little hard to review objectively because I know how important this series is to my friends, I know NOW that the series is totally worth my investment. Actually reading the books seems almost academic.
So the book? Is fine? I liked it. It drags in parts. The whole section with Hagrid’s dragon felt like a long way around, structurally, to get the characters where they needed to be at that point. And all the Quidditch, ugh. That a sport for magical wizards should be just as boring as sports in real life. I have prejudicial reservations about Chosen One characters like Harry, and I don’t understand what this Voldemort dude is supposed to BE (a semi-dead amorphous blob that somehow attached itself to Quirrell and needed Unicorn's Blood to stay, what, "alive"?) (???) (although really this just points to how mind-blowingly difficult it is to write an objective evil). I also don’t like all the adverbs, he said paternally. But OK if I’m sounding nitpicky.
But for every little part of the book that I didn’t like, there was a part where I got totally choked up with emotion. Like, ALL through the book. And the ending, between Hagrid giving Harry the photo album, and Neville getting the winning points, FORGET. ABOUT. IT. I could barely read. (I’m reading this aloud to my 7 year old son, so there’re emotions flying every which way.)
What I wonder is whether my emotions, my investment in these characters is really earned by this book. I kind of suspect it isn’t. I come to it with my feeeeelings about the characters pre-heated. The interesting thing (to me) is that those feeeeelings don’t really come from the book OR the movies--I haven’t seen all the movies, and honestly have a difficult time telling one from the next, or which one comes before which. The book and movies are just OK to me, but I LOVE the fandom, and I love the love that exists for the characters. So that’s my way in to the series, for better or worse.
So: 3 stars, + 1 extra star for me occasionally being unable to read this through my sobbing. On to the next one.