J.K. Rowling’s new book needs separation from comparisons to Harry Potter

Lisa Goudy
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World-renowned author J.K. Rowling released her first new book after her final best-selling Harry Potter series on Thursday.

Being an avid Harry Potter lover, I immediately took interest in reading some reviews about her first adult book, released five years after the final Harry Potter novel. All the while, I was keeping in mind that her book, titled The Casual Vacancy, will not be like Harry Potter and it should not be compared to it.

Rowling and any future work she will produce will always be compared to international phenomenon Harry Potter. I can certainly relate to the millions of people around the world who love Harry Potter. The books were so successful, that they were transformed into eight blockbuster movies and a whole lot of paraphernalia for fans.

But Rowling has already announced she will never touch the Harry Potter series again and I can’t say I blame her. As much fun as it would be to read more about some of the magical characters she created, the end of the series feels just like that — a more than satisfying end to a magical series of adventure. Besides, after such a popular series, I can understand why the writer would not want to touch it again.

In fact, The Casual Vacancy has nothing to do with Harry Potter and its magical enchantments. As a short summary, it is set in a small, but fictional British village of Pagford. When a town official’s death leaves a vacancy on the town council, a conflict over what the middle-class residents should do about the residents of a poverty housing project on the edge of town breaks out. Adult and teenager characters are interwoven into the story with their personal problems.

The book also deals with a lot of mature elements definitely not suited for children. It is cited to contain foul language, racism, rape, pornography, suicide, domestic violence, drug use and graphic sex descriptions.

Reviews stated the main theme of the book is not its graphic elements, but rather a theme of responsibility for the less fortunate with an undertone of British political notions.

I’d be lying if I said I was immediately drawn into the plot. As much as I adore Rowling’s writing in the Harry Potter series, I’m not sure I want to read this one, not because it isn’t Harry Potter but because the plot just doesn’t instantly draw me in.

But what I won’t do is write off the book entirely simply because it is nothing like Harry Potter. If you compare it to Harry Potter, you will definitely be disappointed. Sure, you can think of the book as written by the woman who wrote Harry Potter, but don’t go expecting it to be similar.

I’m not going to judge the book by her past work. If I did that, I’d probably be running to a store or library to pick up a copy simply because I loved Harry Potter.

Despite my uncertainty as to whether I’ll read her latest book, I must applaud Rowling for venturing into an unknown territory so far away from the world she created in Harry Potter. She clearly wrote something totally different, almost like a separation from her previous work.

Whether it will be a success is undetermined. We should give her that separation and anyone who chooses to read the book should judge it based on its plot.

Geographic location: Pagford

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