My thoughts before opening this book: “Yes, I have reservations about this book “ripping” off of Harry Potter, however, there were plenty of books about magic that came out before the HP series. J.K. Rowling was not the first to write about worlds involving magic, and she will not be the last.”
After finishing the book, which only took me a couple days, I’ve been really wondering how I want to write a review of it and what points I would hit on. It would be easy to touch on the many parallels it had to the HP series, but that’ s been done and will continue to be done. Also, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. It was most definitely written for the same audience, and it will continue to be compared and most likely viewed in a negative light. That being said, I think there will be several people out there who will disagree with the following statement: It was a good book. Let me add to that: Despite the ever-so-obvious parallels to HP, it was good book, nonetheless.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain. Kids who like to read about fantasy worlds often read books in the same genre. Some of these include Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Eragon series, and His Dark Materials series, among many others. Each of these books has similarities that cannot be ignored, which doesn’t have to be viewed as a negative characteristic. The Iron Trial is no different, however, I did think there were too many similarities between it and HP. Had I been the author of this charming, quickly paced book, I would have made sure that I either thanked J.K. Rowling for the wonderful inspiration or changed the obvious parallels so the bloggers and HP fans in the world wouldn’t constantly call me out for copying. I use “copying” lightly because The Iron Trial is NOT a carbon copy of HP, and I don’t want anyone walking away believing so.
This novel, told in collaboration by the esteemed Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, had some major plot differences that are worth noting. It was also not nearly as predictable as HP, which I can appreciate (even though HP is absolutely my favorite series of all time).
I would recommend this book to fans of the HP series because:
1. You need to read it and see the differences and parallels for yourself in order to make your own judgments.
2. It puts us older fantasy fans back into a child-like mindset and reminds us why we adored the genre so long ago.
For anyone who is still living in a cave and not familiar with the Harry Potter series, you actually have the advantage here and should go ahead and read The Iron Trial with no reservations. Following your completion of this first book, you should pick up Harry Potter and open your eyes. I do plan on reading the next book in the series in hopes that the plot continues to surprise me. My rating currently sits at a 3.5/5 (in my mind since Goodreads won’t give us half stars), but much of that rating is due to the fact that I thought there were many things left unexplained. As for reading a book that will be deemed by others to be an HP “knock-off”, I have no regrets. If you would go into this book with the mindset that it is HP fan-fiction, then you will probably love it.
I would love to discuss this book further, so feel free to comment and share.
Goodreads rating: 3.88
Recommended for: Harry Potter fans, Cassandra Clare fans, Middle Schoolers