Friday, July 15

Potter Month:Potter-Inspired Books

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge for female geek bloggers hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. You can learn more about the Female Geek Bloggers group here, join in on our Instagram photo challenge for July. This month, we're doing things a little differently and zooming in on one fandom (which just happens to be the most amazing universe to be a fan of) for Harry Potter Month. This week, I wanted to share three books/series I have enjoyed that probably wouldn't exist without the world of Harry Potter.

1. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare - When I read City of Bones for the first time, I had no idea that there was controversy online about sections of the book having originated in her Harry Potter fanfiction trilogy and Clare having been banned from following accusations of plagiarism (Refinery29 has a pretty good round-up of the whole story). Even after reading about the kerfuffle on Livejournal (which was where fandom lived before Tumblr), I was already hooked on the characters and Clare's witty writing style. Jace Wayland may have been inspired by Draco Malfoy and Clary Fray by Ginny Weasley, but they have taken on lives of their own and Clare has given us wonderful original characters like everyone's favorite High Warlock, Magnus Bane. (Clare denies that any of the TMI characters are derived from her fanfiction). The Mortal Instruments is definitely aimed toward an older audience than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and it's been very popular in my middle school classroom library - surprisingly, with both girls and guys. I enjoyed the film version, which I thought was perfectly cast, and I've warmed to the TV adaptation on Freeform even though I was a little skeptical about some of the changes (like the Institute being all modern and computer-y instead of Hogwarts-y) at first. As a fangirl herself, Clare seems to be kind of supportive of her own fans - I like that she often features their fanart on her social media, and I *love* that she makes sure characters who are POC in her books are not whitewashed in adaptations.

2. The Magicians series by Lev Grossman - While you really have to squint and look sideways to see Harry Potter similarities in Cassandra Clare's books, The Magicians is a tongue-in-cheek American college version of Hogwarts stirred together with the Chronicles of Narnia - written for well-read geeks, by a well-read geek (I squealed over a Star Trek reference in the second book, and Grossman has listed all of the hidden literary and geeky allusions in the first book online). The main character, Quentin Coldwater, has lived a mopey, humdrum life in New York City until a normal Princeton interview turns into an exam for a prestigious magical institute, Brakebills. He gets accepted into a cool house with quirky friends, and there's even a magical sport, but there's also drinking and swearing and sex (in both human and animal forms) that would never fly in anything published by Scholastic. Quentin's obsession in the non-magical world was a series of books about the land of Fillory, which turns out to be very real, very dark, and very dangerous. As he told Jessica Woodbury in this interview, Grossman uses the Magicians books to tackle the things that bother him about the Narnia books - "Lewis’s sentimental obsession with childhood innocence, his fear of adult sexuality, the fact that Aslan sometimes lets the people of Narnia suffer when he could be helping them." He also explores the magical quarterlife crisis - Quentin learns that after a lifetime of dreaming of entering the world of fantasy he loves, being able to control magic has not actually made him any happier. I started reading the series after seeing a few episodes of the television series on the SyFy channel, and both are worthwhile - there have been some big changes (like Kady's character) and completely original episodes of the TV show (such as the amazingly creative mental hospital episode), and the timeline differs from the books (The Magicians covers Quentin's entire college experience, so some of the things that happened to him as a freshman in the show actually happened later in the novel). Lev Grossman himself and Hillary Busis of Mashable have both posted about some of the key differences. The second book, The Magician King, catches up with Quentin in Fillory and shows off Grossman's knowledge of European mythology and legend. Though the plot got very dark indeed, I am looking forward to finishing the series with The Magician's Land.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - I'd been on my local library's waiting list for the Ebook of Fangirl basically forever because I knew I'd love the premise: Geeky fanfic writer Cather and her twin sister Wren drift apart when they enter college, and Cath stubbornly clings to her online life rather than trying to forge real relationships. Since my college bestie Tiff and I were rabid Harry Potter fans who used to actually recommend fanfics to each other to read (she was the one who gave me one of her Livejournal codes so I could join the site back when it was semi-exclusive), the novel brought back happy memories of those moments when I felt like I'd found "my people." Cath and Wren (their mom, Cath quips, only chose one baby name), away from home for the first time, deal with the fallout of a messed up childhood in different ways - Wren's visiting frat parties on a nightly basis, while Cath rejects her cool-but-prickly roommate Reagan's invitations, preferring to stay in the dorm and work on her Internet-famous story, which is basically Harry/Draco slash fic. She's landed a spot in a competitive creative writing course, but butts heads with her professor over whether or not fanfiction is a form of plagiarism - Cath feels like the world of young wizard Simon Snow is more real to her than anything she could create from scratch. Just when I thought Rowell had completely charmed me with a character who was even geekier than my 18-year-old self, she threw in a reference to The Outsiders and a cute farm boy reciting the 4-H pledge. Has Rainbow Rowell been stalking me and taking notes on the things I love in order to write the perfect YA novel for me to read? Probably (okay, definitely) not, but she sure did pull it off.

Have you enjoyed any works that probably wouldn't exist
if not for the brilliant mind of our queen, J.K. Rowling?


  1. I love The Magicians show - definitely need to check out the book!