Pottermore finally opened on April 14, and I signed up that day, because I’m a nerd and heard about it that day. I thought I’d get the confimation email right away, because those emails from websites usually get to my inbox right away. But no, Pottermore has to be different. So I waited and waited for the email, and then realized once I got it that I’d need to wait for another email that would notify me when I could “explore Pottermore”.
Fortunately, I got the email the next day! I was so happy! My username is EchoErised18673. Pottermore wanted me to provide my real name, but I thought for a second, then put ‘Lily Neville’ as my name. Next came a Hufflepuff-ish moment when I forgot my password, which was Harry Potter-related, so I couldn’t log in. Can I get any stupider? I don’t think so!
Immediately, I wanted to know what kind of wand I would get and what House I would be Sorted into. I thought this would happen right away, even though it doesn’t in the first book. So I had to wait until Chapter 5 to get all my supplies for Hogwarts. I picked a barn owl as my pet/avatar, because they didn’t have any snowy owls like Hedwig. After getting everything else, I got my wand at Ollivander’s. It is 11 inches, spruce with unicorn core, surprisingly swishy.
When I finally got to Chapter 7, I watched the video of J.K. Rowling explaining the Sorting. Her mouth didn’t move in conjunction with the words she was saying, like a bad Japanese movie. But I think that was just because my computer is slow. Finally, I was at the Sorting. You answer 7 questions (which are not always the same – my brother had a few questions that were different from mine) about yourself. So, what House did you think I would be in? I really, really wanted Slytherin. I was a little disappointed by what I got.
I know I’m a nerd. I know I’m slightly eccentric. (Slightly? OK, maybe really!) But I feel more like a Slytherin than a Ravenclaw, and I didn’t particularly want Ravenclaw. I would have been surprised if I got Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, because while I have a few qualities from those Houses, I’m just not that much like them.
I am weird like Luna. I do and say strange things that may make people doubt my complete sanity. (Luna, face it, when you say, “You’re just as sane as I am.”, that doesn’t reassure people.) I even wear crazy outfits like her.
But I still think I have more in common with those guys, except that I don’t usually wear all black. Am I a Slytherin if I felt like strangling Pottermore at first? It put me in Ravenclaw, but I still consider myself a Slytherin because I’m ambitious, clever, and too lazy to be in Ravenclaw. (That’s why I don’t always accomplish all my goals… one small word called ‘procrastination’.) Oh, here’s another reason why I’m a Slytherin. I can sneer. Really, I practiced, and now my dad and I sneer whenever someone mentions Snape.
Moving on, though, I tried to keep an open mind about Pottermore. There’s plenty of stuff to do there. You can explore every chapter, reading about the characters, places, objects, spells, potions, or books in that scene. You can click around each scene to find books, Chocolate Frog cards, potion ingredients, or magical objects.
I’ve tried to make a potion. Supposedly, the Cure for Boils is the easiest, but I haven’t even been able to finish it. First, I was doing things in the wrong order and adding things willy-nilly into my cauldron. Next, I couldn’t find my wand – you’re supposed to “wave your wand”. My brother eventually figured it was hiding behind the ingredients, almost as if they didn’t want you to find it. When it said to let your potion brew for 3 minutes and then come back, I clicked to another page on Pottermore. When I came back, I discovered that your progress on a potion is not saved; I was supposed to leave that browser window open and go to another if I continued to explore the site. I think there really needs to be some way to save your potion progress. It wouldn’t save them forever, perhaps for 6 hours, but it would be a lot better than spending 80 minutes (apparently) making one potion. You only get three House points for that potion, too. (You see, if you’re just practicing the potion, it takes three minutes, but if you’re making it for real, it takes much longer. Who has that amount of time to sit around making a hard potion that only gets you three points?!) I am no Half-Blood Prince, I discovered. Or perhaps this is his punishment for us: to make us work hard for practically no points. He’s probably laughing his head off somewhere…
I also did terribly at Wizard dueling. The directions are vague to the point of making me wonder if the creators of Pottermore didn’t want us to be able to figure it out. It says to type or click on the first letter of the spell, then click or type again when the circle around the letter pulses. However, my brother figured out that to get 100+ points (instead of the 24 or so I’d been getting) , you need to do that clicking or typing with each of the highlighted letter, not just the first letter. You’d think the makers of such a long-awaited and much-hyped site would have thought to include this very important instruction.
I did enjoy clicking through all the scenes to find various magical objects. It would be more rewarding, though, if we could unlock, say, a special Chocolate Frog card after we’d collected all the others. It gives you a reason to find everything. I also wish we could look at what we’ve collected. I don’t mean that J.K. Rowling has to write pages and pages of the magical books that we find. It would be nice, though, if we could read a page or two, or look more closely at our Chocolate Frog cards. I liked reading the extra information about the series that you can unlock, especially the Minerva McGonagall and the Petunia & Vernon Dursley pages. I laughed a lot at the description of Petunia and her fiance (Vernon) meeting Lily Potter and her boyfriend (James). The Dursleys page also explained why the Dursleys take Harry with them to that hut on the rock – they believe the superstition that wizards can’t cross water. I’d always thought they just hoped not to be found there. I was very interested in ‘The Original Forty’ – the original 40 Hogwarts students in Harry’s year, with all sorts of edits to their names and personalities – because I am a writer too (although not a famous one yet!) and I edit my characters quite a bit. Yes, some of the information can be found by looking in the books, but some is new. I can’t wait until they get farther along in the series and we can learn more about the members of the Marauders, the Order of the Phoenix, and the Death Eaters!
House points. So far, I have 27. You get points for collecting things, beating your opponent in Wizard Dueling, and brewing successful potions. However, I haven’t brewed a successful potion yet, and I’ve only beaten two opponents. So, if I want more points for my House, I have to collect things, which is kind of boring. When you look at ‘The Great Hall’, it shows the point counts for each House. The only thing that never changes there is that Hufflepuff is in last. “Always.” I also noticed that the number of users in each House is suspiciously close – are you Sorted entirely based on how you answer the questions, or is it weighed according to which House needs more new members to even out the count?
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Quidditch yet. That’s because there is no Quidditch yet. I know that first-years aren’t allowed their own brooms, so I’m hoping that Quidditch will unlock once the second book is released (more on that later). I’m also hoping that the directions to play Quidditch are complete and that it is a bit more interesting than potions or dueling have been.
Mary GrandPre didn’t do the illustrations for Pottermore, but I’m OK with that. The illustrations for Pottermore look like paintings (but they might be drawings – I haven’t been able to find out what they are yet) and they’re beautiful. Occasionally, a scene is too dark in my opinion, which makes it hard to find things or even to know what’s going on. In a Pottermore review on another nerdy blog, the author mentioned that Pottermore was quiet in the beta testing period. It is still in beta, but now they’ve gotten rid of that silence issue, as I discovered when I had to mute the sounds of the website to continue listening to my Harry Potter music. You can hear the owls and cats on Platform 9 3/4, for example. So sometimes I listen to the Pottermore audio, and sometimes I listen to something like this, which I am currently obsessed with.
For some reason, I thought we would be able to read the Harry Potter books in their entirety on Pottermore. You can buy the ebooks from Pottermore (although I’m not sure if you need an account to do so), but you can’t read the entire chapter from the book as you work your way through a chapter in Pottermore. That makes sense, though, because it would be stupid for the publishers to allow that: people could read the books without buying either the paper copies or the ebooks. I also thought the classes would be more interactive, for example, I thought we might get to listen to Professor McGonagall talk for a minute or two about Transfiguration. Instead, classes are barely mentioned – you almost get the impression that there aren’t any classes at Hogwarts at all, or that the students often play hooky.
I also thought that all the books would be out at the same time. It turns out that only Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone is available; the others haven’t been released yet. I was very disappointed, because while it was fun to explore Sorceror’s Stone, I really can’t wait until Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite) and Deathly Hallows, because the locations are so cool. (I want to explore the Lovegood’s house and Malfoy Manor!) My least favorite Harry Potter book is Chamber of Secrets, although I’d rather read that one than Twilight. So, I’m hoping it’ll be interesting in Pottermore. I was also under the impression that we would be able to see or interact with the characters. (Wouldn’t it be great to ‘chat’ with Albus Dumbledore?) But we can’t. Not really, anyway. Occasionally you can see the back of someone’s head. I really wanted to see these characters!
There are several locked shops in Diagon Alley. I’m hoping they unlock later in the series, otherwise, what is the point of having them? Gringotts is quite limiting as well: you don’t even get an animation of the ride down to your vault. All you do is use the key to unlock the door. Right now, it seems like there is a lot on Pottermore that needs to be fixed or needs to be unlocked in order to make the site more interesting.
Pottermore is very safe, as far as I can tell. There’s no way to contact other people, except in the ‘comments’ section in the common rooms and on the pages about important things in the series. I’ve only commented about 3 times, because it takes so long for the comments to get moderated that there’s no point.
Sometimes Pottermore works well for me and sometimes it doesn’t. When I try to send a gift (a Chocolate Frog card, for example) to another user, such as my brother, sometimes it won’t let me. Also, I still haven’t figured out how to upload drawings. (You’re supposed to be able to upload fan art. I can’t draw, so I wasn’t going to upload anything, but I still think I should’ve been able to find the upload button by now, and I can’t.)
I loved some of the little details in Pottermore. For example, Fred and George Weasley try to send Harry Potter a toilet seat as a gift while he is recovering at the end of Sorceror’s Stone. Well, my brother found it. Check Chapter 17, Moment 2: The Hospital Wing. Double-click, then double-click again to the left of the page, and it is in the closet. Little, silly things like that make up for some of the annoying bits of Pottermore.
If you want a really cool Harry Potter experience, read the books. Or listen to the music. Or watch one of the really good movies, such as Deathly Hallows Part 1. Pottermore is decent, but I think there is a lot of room for improvement. I don’t recommend Pottermore for anyone who hasn’t read the books, because there are plenty of spoilers, and more importantly, you’d be confused very quickly. Pottermore explains things fairly well, but some things just make more sense in the books. Overall, Pottermore is interesting. Because not all the books are out yet, I will probably review 2 through 7 together (instead of each year separately) when they’ve all been released. I will continue to explore Pottermore!
What does Professor Dumbledore think?
Extra information on characters, places, etc: 3.75/5
Wizard dueling: 2/5
Hogwarts toilet seat: 5/5