1: Sorcerer's Stone: Seven out of 10
Book 2: Chamber of Secrets: Six out
Book 3: Prisoner of Azkaban: Eight
out of 10
This is by far the best of the four Potter books that
have come out so far. Unfortunately, you really have to read the previous
three to appreciate it. The first book is a great children's story that
stands on its own, and introduces likable, realistic, but muted characters.
The characters grow and develop in the next two books, though the plot
of the second book is simple and more formulaic than the others. The
third introduces a taste of the complexity that Rowling is capable of,
juggling many new characters and subplots and setting undercurrents in
motion for the spectacular fourth book.
The fourth book is as enjoyable and sophisticated as
any "adult" novel, and at over seven hundred pages, longer
than most. Rowling excels at vivid descriptions and fantastic mythology;
her world-molding ability rivals Tolkien's, and her naming skills are
second to none. Her characters reveal themselves to be intelligent, resilient,
but strikingly vulnerable. In fact, Harry's vulnerability in the strange
new magic world he gets sucked into is the heart of the books.
It's hard to capture the pure excitement in reading
these books; it builds slowly through all four and would easily top any
scale of novel page-turning-compellingness. It's so crisp and well-defined
that the "movie in your head" aspect of the novel form is at
its best here, which might account for some of its record-breaking appeal
to younger minds.
If I could think of a single reason to recommend the
book, it would be for the heart-stopping conclusion, which leaves such
a state of giddy anticipation that it's worth reading all four novels
just to appreciate everyone's eagerness for the fifth.