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J.K. Rowling's adult novel: A recipe for failure?
Rowling's Harry Potter franchise is an unqualified success, but will her millions of fans follow her into the world of adult fiction?
J.K. Rowling: At least one critic found her attempts to tackle more mature themes within the Harry Potter series "annoying and insufferable."
J.K. Rowling: At least one critic found her attempts to tackle more mature themes within the Harry Potter series "annoying and insufferable."
Rick Friedman/Corbis
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he leap from writing children's literature to penning adult fiction is sort of like the jump from acting to singing — many have tried it, but only a few (Judy Blume, for instance) have succeeded. So nobody is quite sure what to expect from Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling's upcoming novel for adults, announced Thursday by publisher Little, Brown, and Co. Rowling's only revelation: It "will be very different to the Harry Potter series." Expectations are high — fan Natalie Summers gushed on Twitter that "Rowling announcing a new book is almost like God announcing a follow-up to the Bible" — but after selling more than 450 million Potter books to addicted fans, can Rowling's second act be anything but a letdown?

Rowling's got a sure-fire hit: "No matter what the subject, Rowling is a talented author and I’ll certainly be interested to read whatever she’s come up with," says Germain Lussier in SlashFilm. And I'm nowhere close to alone in that. As the Potter books "got consistently darker, more adult," they were still "adored by everybody." Now that she's writing a proper adult novel, readers of all ages will flock to it, "even without a boy wizard a the center."
"Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling planning a new book for, you know, adults"

Nuanced adult writing isn't Rowling's strong suit: I'll probably "pick up a copy, if only to make sure I don’t miss out on a treasure," but I don't have high hopes for Rowling's post-Potter debut, says Katy Waldman in Slate. I loved the literary and literal magic of Potterworld, but the "books didn’t actually excel in many other ways that might predict a sterling novel for adults": Her stabs at character development, subtle themes, emotional complexity were mostly "insufferable and annoying."
"Will J.K. Rowling's novel for adults be any good?"

The book won't be another Potter, but that's okay: "Rowling has certainly proven her ability to write stories with mass appeal," but the new book will probably succeed only if Potter fans let it stand on its own merits, says Linda Sharps in The Stir. Though Rowling once said that she would prefer to write any post-Potter books under a pseudonym, her odds are good: With her "massive built-in audience," her adult debut is almost guaranteed bestseller status. Still she faces "equally massive expectations," and it's "almost inevitable" that any book without owls, wands, and invisibility cloaks will, in some way, fall short.
"J.K. Rowling announces new book, but Harry Potter fans may be disappointed"

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