This summer, the website BookRiot published an article titled, “The Grisha Trilogy is the Successor to the Harry Potter Throne.” The article focuses on the Grisha Trilogy, but Harry Potter is definitely the hook. It’s a very bold statement, and got my attention.
In the time of 2013 A.P. (After Potter), there has been a clamor in the Young Adult community for a series that is as enthralling and magical as Harry Potter was. Different publishing houses and reviewers will insist, “Twilight is the new Harry Potter,” or proclaim “Hunger Games to be the next Harry Potter.” The battle to have the fame and fortune that Harry Potter brought Scholastic Press and JK Rowling is understandable. Who wouldn’t want young readers nipping at your heels for the books to come out faster? The Harry Potter series set a new bar for the YA world. It was (and still is) a series that could bring in an adult audience as well as children in a whirlwind of who can finish the novel first? It will always be interesting to compare books, though each new novel is supposed to be unique.
For this generation of YA readers, saying a book is like Harry Potter deems the book powerful, a book you need to run to the store and buy now! Harry Potter has become more than a book, it is the standard. YA readers are constantly trying to find books they can fall in love with, books that can create a community of thought. This also falls in line with a need for serial novels. After Potter, a bust of YA series came out trying to mimic the impact. There is a connection readers make to the characters in a series, because the reader gets extra background on the characters and multiple adventures with which to learn more about who these characters are. There was a flip from creating a story to creating a world. Every year the reader gets the anticipation of waiting for a new chapter in the lives of their favorite characters. It’s like a TV show—once started it’s hard not to finish.
Thousands of YA titles published every year hope for this kind of reader following. Many receive no acclaim, but every once in a while a novel is released that takes readers on a ride. And that’s why we read in the first place. The best part of reading is being sucked into a world that is different than your own. Even in adult literary fiction there is a kind of magic that seeps through the written word and into a reader’s imagination. This is what everyone in the publishing world strives for, the book that will have an audience. The hardest part is sifting through those manuscripts and finding the ones that have something new to bring to the table.
UK’s The Guardian wrote about JK Rowling in 1997 when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first released and was just getting on its feet. Even then, people knew something big was about to happen after her first novel was sold to a publisher for 100,000 pounds. There is a lot of money to be made in exerting this kind of influence, but this is not something readers think about. They are in it for the experience. The comparisons to Harry Potter might seem repetitive and questionable because who wants to read the same book? But it is not about that; it is about the experience of reading. What readers should be asking is, will this book be an experience that will stay with me when I close the book? If originality is what made Harry Potter a best seller, shouldn’t we, as readers, learn to let books stand by themselves?