There has never been a more overused phrase in the book industry than "the next Harry Potter." If I were an author of a series of young adult novels, I would feel really stressed having that phrase attached to my work. The pressure to live up to J.K. Rowling's tremendous book sales and popularity would be the death of me. Nevertheless, publishers are indeed seeking that next literary sensation in the field of young adult literature. Interestingly enough, I have some of these titles that earned this unfortunate label.
Tunnels, a novel by two first-time British novelists, came out in 2007 and its publishers was promoting it as THE book to watch out for. I saw the book at FullyBooked two months ago and I bought it at a whim. I liked the premise that involves a boy discovering a hidden world underneath the civilization that we know of. I haven't gotten past the first chapter though. I find the book too ridden with adverbs that it's distracting.
The Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer could have been the next Harry Potter if only their demographic extended to other sexes and other age ranges. The Harry Potter books were widely read. Children as young as 6 have been devouring the books. The Twilight books on the other hand are more popular with girls and, yes, women. The books have no universal appeal. Also, I found them too cheesy.
I loved Gone by Michael Grant and I'm eagerly anticipating the next one. I doubt that this would be the next HP though, since there are a few characters that readers would be able to relate to. In the world of Rowling, if you're not too big on Harry's character, there's always nerdy Hermione, goofy Ron, and a whole lot of other eccentric but lovable characters. Perhaps it's because Gone is the first novel, and the author would eventually find the unique voices of each of his characters.
Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy suffers from being too serious. The first book, Inkheart, was a fun read because of its somewhat original plot involving a father and a daughter who have the unique talent of reading characters to existence. The second one, Inkspell, was a tad too overwelming. It had way too much characters and Funke seems too preoccupied in bringing the reader up to speed with what happened in the first book.
I do miss Harry and his posse. Rowling's prose is so fresh and unintimidating. She never failed to surprise us every time we opened an HP book. The books are worthy to be re-read, and Rowling had the right judgment not to write any more HP books after the 7th installment. I think that the last HP was one of the most effective conclusions ever, but my favorite will always be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Rowling is not known for her restraint, but she made us fell in love with her imagination.