Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling, is the first book in the Harry Potter series. The main character, Harry, is immediately the underdog of the story, as we learn in the first chapter that he is being raised by his abusive aunt and uncle. Upon learning that Harry is a wizard, just as his parents were, and that he is called to attend an infamous school for wizards, the story moves onto his adventures with his friends during his first year at the school.
Mr. Riedl's brief disclaimer: Many people love this book series, but I would not recommend that everyone read it. Those who have a hard time reading about fictional, juvenile forms of witchcraft would probably not enjoy this book. Additionally, there are other dark and creepy parts in the book that might be upsetting to some people. That being said, I absolutely loved this book, and when I read it I saw the heart of this story, which is a young hero learning how to be responsible with his newly discovered supernatural powers. (very similar to Spider-Man, actually!)
After reading about Harry's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I can't help but root for this kid. He has all of the makings of a great hero. He comes from humble beginnings, he is a loving, sensitive kid who makes good choices and wants to be a good person. Even though he is realizing that he is one of the most powerful wizards in history, he earnestly wants to be a good friend, a good student, and a good Quidditch player.
Throughout this first book in the series, he struggles with learning about doing the right thing in tough situations. I can't help comparing him to Peter Parker in Spider-Man because they are both young boys, both have an unexpected responsibility that comes with their powers, and both want to do the right thing to help others. As Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, discover secrets about some of the professors at the school, they eventually help prevent the evil Lord Voldemort from taking over the world. The best part about the book is how sacrificial love was what prevailed in the end against Voldemort. The evil archenemy of Harry Potter was unable to understand the power of love that his mother demonstrated by sacrificing her life to protect him.
Overall, it seems to me that this book is a pretty typical story of an underdog character who does not expect to be the hero, but makes good choices and ends up saving the day. Even though this is a stereotypical hero story, what makes this book unique is the setting and the unique situations that Harry and his friends find themselves in. The heart of the book is a hero who knows that sacrificial love is more powerful than anything else that stands against it. Mix up all these ingredients and we have a wonderful book!