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Avada kedavra

JK Rowling’s career should have been dead long before the publication of her new novel. (Alice Hebb photo)
JK Rowling’s career should have been dead long before the publication of her new novel. (Alice Hebb photo)

I have always hated the Harry Potter series.

I could not get through any of the books. My girlfriend basically strapped me into a chair and forced me to watch all the movies. I have been pestered since I was young to love it. And yet, I still hate it.

Personally, I find her writing dull and shallow. The Harry Potter series could never hold my interest because the writing just isn’t that great. Her plots are overly complicated, drawing the story out longer than required while still managing to leave a lot of questions unanswered. And the ending was terrible.

Despite this, I respect what J.K. Rowling achieved through that series. Rowling managed to create a global phenomenon and introduce an entire generation to reading. She captivated almost everyone in existence (aside from me), from the five-year-old reading their first chapter book to the 85-year-old grandmother who needed to know what happened next.

The Harry Potter craze was massive because of Rowling’s idea, not her writing. To her credit, Rowling created a magical universe that had limitless possibilities. However, an idea can only take you so far.

Rowling recently published her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, to mediocre reviews. Like any author who gets their work published, Rowling did some things right, but it is a passable read to say the least. After reading some of this book, I felt no connection to the massive ensemble of characters, dull stereotypes and a plot that manages to be predictable and convoluted at the same time (again).

Why did Rowling do this? Why did she publish a novel that involves copious sex and drug use, and that faced a potential ban in India due to perceived slurs against the Sikh community?

In this modern world, why does anybody do anything? She was adding to her wealth.

Rowling sold her name. She took a mishmash of mediocre ideas, threw them into one book, slapped her name on the cover and hit the marketing trail. The Casual Vacancy is among the top selling novels on Amazon and is the fastest selling novel in the United Kingdom since 2009. On Amazon, the physical book lists at roughly $20. Multiply that by the roughly 375,000 copies sold in the United States…within the first week. That’s an extra $7.5 million worth in sales alone.

Money doesn’t mean anything in the long run. Novels like The Casual Vacancy ruin the reputation of authors. J.K. Rowling made literature cool to an entire generation. The Harry Potter books will live on bookshelves next to Green Eggs and Ham and The DaVinci Code for the rest of time.

The Casual Vacancy will be in bargain bins by Christmas.

Justin Hartling
Justin Hartling
Justin was an Online Editor for Volume 146 of the Gazette.
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