I should start by saying that I don’t hate Harry Potter. I don’t. Harry Potter taught an entire generation the love of reading and for that, I cannot hate him. That disclaimer is very important as the rest of the review is going to be pretty negative.
J.K. Rowling is a good storyteller. She can come up with characters that are engaging. She tells her stories in an easily digestible manner. The plot moves fairly quickly, which is an advantage in children’s literature. The obstacles in the protagonist’s path are relatable (i.e. bullying, not fitting in, and misunderstanding adults).
What Rowling is not is a good writer. While her characters are entertaining, they lack depth. Her vocabulary is somewhat limited, and while one may chalk this up to it being children’s lit, it’s true throughout the series. Her audience by the end of the series was quite a bit older and ready for a better usage of the English language.
And then there’s the plot. Oh, the plot. There are several minor plot holes I found in this reading but none of them can compare to debacle that is the last third of the book. The sorcerer’s stone is supposed to be under the safest possible lock and key, with challenges and safeguards set up by the staff of Hogwarts. However, none of the safeguards proved too difficult for three first year magic students. These children are eleven years old.
They trick Hagrid into giving them the secret to subduing Fluffy and use the flute that Hagrid himself made for Harry. Considering the anguish that Hagrid went through whenever the kids figured anything out, I’m guessing that’s not what was supposed to happen. Devil’s Snare turns out to be incredibly easy to get out of, since Hermione’s first year level fire spell defeats it. Magical chess sets are apparently not as good at chess as Deep Blue, because Ron was able to beat it. The logic puzzle arguably shouldn’t have actually been there; a collection of bottles that may or may not kill you would be far more effective.
The main plot hole, however, is that had Harry not gone down to stop Voldemort, Voldie would have been stopped in his tracks cold. Dumbledore enchanted the Mirror of Erised to only give the sorcerer’s stone to someone who wanted to find the stone but not use it. Had Quirrell and Voldemort been alone in the chamber, they never would have gotten to the stone at all. More than a small plot problem. These are not the only issues I have with the Harry Potter series, but the rest can wait for future reviews.
Let me reiterate that I do not hate Harry Potter. As a children’s series, it’s pretty good. But adults should be critical even of things they like.