The “Harry Potter” Effect

I started reading the Harry Potter books in June of 2002. I tore through the four books that had been released at the time in about a week. After finishing, I was left needing more. I had so many questions that I needed answered! Just what was that “gleam of triumph” in Dumbledore’s eye all about? What was going to happen to the wizarding world now that Lord Voldemort had returned? I would have to wait five long years for all of my questions to be answered.

There was both some good and bad that came out of my wait for the release of all seven books. The need for information on the next release was intense. My desire to have my questions answered left me scouring the internet. While this fell into the “bad” category, it resulted in many things in the “good” category. The longing for info on the next book lead me to a great HP news site, The Leaky Cauldron. My need for answers to my questions helped me find some great discussions on the The Leaky Lounge. The friends I met through these sites, and great discussions I had, helped make the wait worth it.

Since finishing the Harry Potter books, I have discovered many great series. In some cases–like with the Uglies Series–all of the books had already been released. This meant I could read all the books at once and not have to wait long for the answers to my many questions. However this need to get answers quickly meant that I missed out on the opportunity to discuss the book and theorize about what came next. Perhaps had I found Uglies earlier, I would have discovered some great Scott Westerfeld fans with whom to share my love of the series.

Other times my first encounter with a series is purely accidental. Only after having finished a book had I realized it was the first in a yet-to-be completed series. This happened with Heist Society by Ally Carter. I now find myself often checking the author’s Twitter page for any updates on the Heist Society 2 manuscript. (Good news: It’s in progress! Bad News: Still only in first draft form.)

The last “series situation” I’ve stumbled upon is hearing about a book that is part of a yet-to-be completed series. I then have to make a decision: Do I start reading the series immediately and then wait with all my questions? Do I wait for all of the books to be released and then read them all? Sometimes I will ignore the dreaded wait and start reading the series right away. This was the case with Insatiable by Meg Cabot. I read the book knowing that only the first book of the series had been released. I was comfortable making this decision because I felt that the plot wasn’t as intricate as some others, and I wouldn’t find myself kept awake at night due to unanswerable questions. For the most case, this is true. While I would enjoy some word on that status of its sequel, I’m not searching the internet for any word about it.

As often as I’ve decided to start reading an unfinished series, I’ve also found myself making the consciousness decision to not read a series until just before the release of the final book. Such is the case with Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I made the decision to wait based on two things. The first of which was the wait. By the time I had heard about this series, the first book had been out for a while and the second was almost released. I knew that it wouldn’t be a long wait until the third and final book was out. The second reason was the suspense factor of the book. Everyone I know who read Hunger Games had many questions after finishing. These questions were not of the “Gee I wonder what happens” variety, but instead “I need to know what happens now!” It seemed these feelings only intensified after the release of Catching Fire. The extreme suspense, and relatively short wait time influenced my decision to wait until all the books had been released to start reading.

Now, was this the right decision to make? I’m sure that I’ve missed out on some great discussion by not reading the books as they were released. It seems that there has been no lack of theorizing about what will happen in the finale of the series. In many cases while my friends have been discussing the books, I’ve had to cover my ears and walk away. If I know a friend is reading the books, I read their status updates with my eyes half open in an attempt to avoid spoilers. While I can’t ever say if I made the right decision, I know that as I start reading the series ASAP in preparation for the August 24th release date of Mockingjay, it will be nice to know I’ll soon find out an answer to all my questions!

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11 responses to “The “Harry Potter” Effect

  1. greenlightening

    I have the opposite reaction to series that are not yet finished. I find that I WANT to start reading them because I miss the anticipation I got to experience while waiting for the final HP books to come out. The only part that really bugs me right now is that my friends who have read ARCs of Mockingjay and are teasing me about already being finished!

    • Thanks for the comment! I find it very interesting that you start a new series because of the anticipation! There were some amazing times during that wait such as all the book release parties. I will always remember riding the NY subway the week before the release of DH with my ears covered because I was afraid of getting spoiled.

      :starts getting teary:

  2. Great post! Personally, I love reading an unfinished series because it doesn’t feel like such a daunting task to get through it. I have shied away from series simply because the thought of having to read ELEVEN BOOKS to get to the end seems impossible! (I’m looking at you, Sword of Truth series.)

    Then, again, reading an unfinished series has its downfalls. While reading Brisingr, I found that I had forgotten some details in the first two of the Inheritance Cycle books. But for me, there’s nothing like the anticipation of finding out what happens next–which is why I love jumping into unfinished series!

    • That is a really good point about forgetting some of the stuff in the first few books. I recently read the fourth book in the Gallagher Girl series, and was very lost because I had forgotten a lot of stuff from the first 3 books. I think I’m going to read books 1-4 straight through sometime soon hoping it will help refresh my memory a bit.

      The Inheritance Cycle books are another example of books I haven’t’ read as I was waiting for all of them to come out. Now however I find myself with very little desire to read these books.

      • Ha! I don’t blame you (about the Inheritance Cycle)! The first wasn’t bad, the second was better, the third…well, let’s just say I started reading the third book thinking it was the last in the series (because I had not heard The News otherwise); so when I got to the last chapter thinking there was NO WAY this book was going to be the final book, I was so tired of the story and disappointed in the plot that I completely regretted having invested so much time in the series as a whole.

  3. I hate waiting for books to be released in a series, for a number of reasons. The first, and most frustrating, is needing to know what happens next, now! The second is that I always make myself re-read the entire series before the latest book is released, so I’m not forgetting anything. I didn’t do this with The Gathering Storm (Book 12 in the Wheel of Time series), because the first 11 are so long that it would have taken me months 😀 I ‘ve read the series enough though, so I remembered mostly everything, but there were little details that I had to look up.

    Sometimes, waiting to read a series puts me off reading it at all, because, before I get to start, I already know what the books are about and what happens in them… So the decision to wait is always a hard one, and it usually depends on how many books have been released in the series, how long it is until the next (or all) is out and what I’m reading at the time.

    I do like the anticipation, and the theorising and discussing with friends, but there are certain series that I will wait for, becuase I know that the frustration will overshadow my anticpation. This won’t stop me picking up new a book if it is the first in the series and the only one out, but I think it’ll stop me if there are already 2, 3 etc. out in the series.

    • First off, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!!!

      Second: I agree with you SO MANY points! I HATE waiting…. I’m so very bad at it. I just finished Catching Fire yesterday and am having a hard time waiting for Mockingjay! It’s only been one day! So impatient.

      I was very afraid that I was going to get spoiled for both Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and was very glad that didn’t happen. Hopefully you can enjoy the series spoiler free!

  4. I hope I can stay spoiler free, too 🙂 I’ve been looking forward to reading the series, and it’s been hard not to start them yet 😀 I was going to get the first 2 last week, but it’s my birthday next week and I may get them as a gift. So I’m having to wait just a little longer.

  5. Pingback: Great Book Recommendations | IDK my BFF books

  6. Pingback: Most Anticipated Books of 2011 | IDK my BFF books

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