Lewmag: February 2015

Fantastic Fandoms

february photoPotterheads. Tributes. Half-bloods. Initiates. Ringers. Recognizable or not, these identifiers all have something in common. Fandoms—intense fan bases of an extremely popular part of pop culture. In this case, it’s Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Divergent, and The Lord of the Rings, and they all have one more thing in common. Books.

It’s true that all of the fandoms I listed are also huge blockbusters. The longevity of Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings are fueled with help from their accompanying films, as are the more recent smash hits, like Divergent and the Hunger Games. Success is aided with the big screen buzz, but, they all started off on the page and in the hands of readers. The interest in seeing these stories come to life on screen comes from the existing popularity of the books. So, it’s to the credit of the book worms that these fandoms are as popular as they are.

Each of those series has become popular enough for movies and best-seller statuses. They have inspired thousands of readers among various generations. But, all of that had to start with an initial spark of interest. The stories had to be good enough to grab attention and anchor it. These stories had to entice the readers to become invested in its characrers and messages. Percy Jackson’s draw is that it’s a mythical story that centers around Percy, a character that many can identify with. Divergent brings in reader into a dystopian world that has a realistic love story between Tris and Four. No matter what the defining elements are, the writers found wats to make the stories special—to make them worthy of a fandom.

There is one thing that really helps make a fandom work. In fact, it’s another thing that these five fandoms have in common. They’re all part of a series. Some are trilogies and some have up to seven installments, but what is important to note is what being a series does for the story and its fandom. The first in the series draws the reader in, but it is the sequels that keep the reader coming back. Anticipation for the newest book grows a fandom. Readers flock together just to relish in the excitement of a new installment, they want to find out what the characters have been up to, how much time has gone by, and to plunge into the next adventure. Fandom readers can literally invest years of their lives into a series and the fandom itself.

For the books to succeed they have to have a following. That’s especially true in the young adult genre. You don’t see The Last Olympian being assigned for homework over To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s why the fandoms—as crazy as they can be—are so important in the book world. They create buzz and inspire readership. Followings allow readers of all ages to connect and share their passion for a shared interest. They allow young readers to encounter things that they may have not otherwise heard of, seen, or dreamed of. Harry Potter made people wish for worlds of magic. The Hunger Games showed an admirable female lead. And The Lord of the Rings transported the page turners to another realm.

Fandoms are built on amazing worlds and interesting characters but they succeed by the help of the actual fans. Books rely on the fans and the fans rely on the books.

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