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Harry Potter’s toughest challenge?

How the queens of fantasy fiction—J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer—and their best-selling series stack up


 

BORN
Rowling
: July 31, 1965, in Gloucester, Eng.
Meyer: December 24, 1973, in Connecticut. She was raised in Phoenix.
The edge: A draw.

WRITING ROUTINE
Rowling: Cafes in Edinburgh with her daughter Jessica on her knee
Meyer: With music playing—usually her favourite UK-rockers, Muse. She often cranks the volume for inspiration.
The edge: Meyer. Her routine sounds like a party.

THE PROTAGONIST
Rowling: Harry Potter, an orphan who, on his 11th birthday, learns he is a wizard.
Meyer: Isabella (Bella) Swan moves to Forks, Wash., to live with her father, and befriends the Cullens, a family of ‘vegetarian’ vampires.
The edge: Rowling. What’s better than magic?

THE BAD GUY
Rowling:
Lord Voldemort, the most powerful and evil wizard of all time.
Meyer: An especially violent posse of vampires (Laurent, Victoria, James) set on Bella’s demise.
The edge: Rowling. While Meyer seems to have quantity, Rowling went for quality. 


NUMBER OF PAGES: 
Rowling: 4,195 in seven books.
Meyer: 2,560 in four books, with her fifth (Midnight Sun), yet to be written.
The edge: Rowling. Unless, of course, Meyer’s final book is 1,636 pages long.

MOVIE HEARTTHROB
Rowling:
Daniel Radcliffe adopted the Potter persona when he was 11, but is all grown up now. In fact, he made a controversial move to the stage last year in Equus, which included a much-talked-about full-frontal nude scene.
Meyer: Robert Pattinson, the 22-year old UK-born actor got his major break in… Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as the dashing Cedric Diggory.
The edge: Rowling. Her work gave both heartthrobs their start.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Rowling: Muggle, meaning ‘a person who is ignorant, has no skills, or is without magical powers’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003.
Meyer: Even though the concept of vampires interacting with the real world, or entering relationships with humans has been an oft repeated theme, Meyer has managed to… well… it’s never happened in Washington before.
The edge: Rowling. She created a word!

SALES
Rowling:
Valued at roughly US$15 billion, the Harry Potter series has sold more than 375 million books worldwide.
Meyer: Both Twilight and New Moon have reached the No. 5 spot on the New York Times Best Seller List. New Moon climbed to number No. 1 in its second week. The three books that make up the saga have spent a combined 143 weeks on the list.
The edge:
Rowling.

LITERARY CRITICISM
Rowling: While her first Potter novel (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) received high praise for its creativity and inventiveness, Rowling has since come under literary fire. Critic Harold Bloom has called her prose full of dead metaphors and clichés. Others have criticized her style as derivative.
Meyer: Considered overly dramatic, clichéd, Byronic. Publishers Weekly, however, praised her for precision and delicacy in crafting a story that rises above convention.
The edge: A draw.

AWARDS
Rowling: Winner of four Whitaker Platinum Book Awards, three Nestle Smarties Book Prizes, two Scottish Council Book Awards, a Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year Award, a WHSmith Book of the year, a Best Novel in the Hugo Awards, a commendation for the Carnegie Medal, and the customary slew of list toppers (New York Times, Publishers Weekly). As if that wasn’t enough, the New York Times added a ‘Young Adult” section in 2000 after the release of Goblet of Fire as publishers complained of the number of slots held on the list by Harry Potter novels

Meyer: A New York Times Editor’s Choice and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
The edge:
Rowling.

MOVIE ADAPTATIONS
Rowling: Her first five novels have already turned into incredible commercial success on the big screen (all 5 are on the 20 highest-grossing films worldwide). And her last two books will be made into three films—the first of which, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is slated to be in theaters in November.
Meyer: Twilight, the first of Meyer’s books to be turned into a movie, will hit the big screen in December.
The edge: Rowling. 

VERDICT
Rowling… in a landslide.


 
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