For the Love of Lit

monOn Sunday morning, in between calls at work, I found myself on BuzzFeed’s book section when an article about a new author who is apparently to become ‘the next J.K.Rowling’ caught my eye. I wanted to read the article, and I was even curious about the book, but I couldn’t get past the title. Sure, clickbait is common on the internet these days, it’s part of why BuzzFeed is so popular, the problem is, it’s become an unsettling trend that ultimately only hurts the reader. It was the same thing I heard, a year or so ago about the Rook, how fans of Harry Potter would love it, or some other author who got a huge book contract and was supposed to be the next J.K. the problem is, this sets the author up for failure, and the reader up for disappointment. There will never be another J.K.Rowling, and honestly, does there need to be? We still have a perfectly good one, and she’s not exactly in retirement either. Quite the contrary, she seems to be working harder than she’s ever been, and that’s to everyone’s benefit.

It’s one thing to say that a book is good, or even that fans of one series, might enjoy this series, but to suggest this person is going to be the next J.K.Rowling is a bit of a stretch and more to the point, that’s a huge burden to put on anyone. If a book is really that good, let it stand on it’s own merits. I get wanting something to compare it to, the problem is, when you chose a title as well known, and deeply loved as Harry Potter, you set up an expectation for what this story is supposed to be, and when it inevitably doesn’t deliver (because again, it’s not actually Harry Potter), fans get disappointed, and eventually the writer sort of fades into obscurity. Maybe this author won’t, maybe he has the staying power beyond several others who have had the same comparisons made, but I think for the love of fiction, and for the good of readers and authors everywhere, we need to stop making comparisons like this.

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