J.K. Rowling is both the reason I want to be an author and why I also dread becoming one. Her success with Harry Potter is the stuff of dreams. What author doesn't want the world to fall so deeply in love with the world you created that they're insatiable for the series nearly 20 years after the first book was published?
But I also understand how this success has been both a blessing and a curse. Rowling can't put pen to paper without someone comparing whatever she's writing, however different, to the success of Harry Potter. Her first post-Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy, was a stunning work and completely different than Potter, yet it received lukewarm reviews. I understand completely why she published the Cormoran Strike series under a pseudonym.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans are still demanding an eighth book, which Rowling said many times would not be coming. Often fans don't realize what authors of series know all too well---it's better to end on a high note. If you can't do the series justice by continuing, then don't. I respect an author who knows when it's the best time to end a series, even if the fans don't.
By virtue of her popularity, Rowling has likely experienced this more than any other author of a series. I cannot begin to imagine the level of annoyance she must feel when yet another fan begs for an eighth book, especially when it's abundantly clear that she'd rather be writing other things.
Admittedly, I was excited about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child until I found out that the book was just a script of the play. And as you can see by the photo of the cover above that the play wasn't even really written by Rowling---the idea for the story just came from her. Rather than an actual new Harry Potter book, it feels like fan fiction with Rowling's seal of approval.
I wouldn't go as far as accusing her of wanting to make a quick buck, considering that she's the wealthiest author in history, but this eighth book does feel lazy. Almost like an "okay, shut up, I'm giving you what you want, so stop bitching." It doesn't feel genuine to me. How could it?
And yet, I can't blame her at all. If my fans demanded a book so often and so vehemently as Harry Potter fans have demanded this eighth book that she clearly didn't want to write, I'd publish a play written by someone else just to spite them, too. I'm curious to see how or if the cries for new installments continue once people have read the play, which will be released on July 31st.
As for me, I'm not sure I'll be reading it. I won't be at one of the many midnight release parties at bookstores, as I was for the other books in the series. How I feel about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is similar to how I feel about Go Set a Watchman---it might be nice to know some additional details, but ultimately I worry that it'll taint how I feel about the other books. Having read Go Set a Watchman, I cannot now read To Kill a Mockingbird and see Atticus as I always imagined him: the moralistic, godlike character. Now I wonder if that's not really who Atticus is, but rather how he's painted for us through the eyes of a child.
Perhaps my fear is that the adult Harry, Ron, and Hermione won't live up to the same sense of adventure they had as kids; that perhaps once they're burdened with children and chores they won't have time to worry about fighting evil. Perhaps they'll remind me a little too much of what I see a lot of in my adult life already: people sacrificing their dreams on the altar of domestic life. Perhaps I don't want to see my childhood heroes in this way because that is what I fear for myself. I don't want to think that my best, most adventurous years are behind me simply because my body yielded to the effects of time. I don't want to think my dreams are out of reach because I grew up.
But that's just me. If you've been yearning for an eighth book (and don't mind the looming potentiality of disappointment) read on.