When Harry Potter was released, the internet was in its infancy. Fansites were hosted on AngelFire, Dumbledore’s quotes were used in away messages on AIM, and website graphics were a horrible mixture of neon and glitter. Sure, we chatted on message boards and played on Neopets, but we weren’t as connected then as we are now. Because we have this constant access to the opinions of others, there seems to be more bandwagon hype than there had been before.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The internet has made it easier to find books and to discuss them. More exposure is rarely a true negative. However, there’s this hype surrounding certain titles and with that hype comes disappointment. With disappointment comes a degree of distrust.
I’m always hesitant when I see new books receiving 5 star after 5 star review. After all, herd mentality is definitely real. We’re more likely to view something positively if we see our peers viewing something positively. So I have to wonder: is this book really that great, or are readers caught up in a whirlwind of enthusiasm?
We’ve seen it happen before: books that are incredibly popular at the time do not stand the test of time. Books like Twilight and The DaVinci Code were incredibly popular at one point in time. People loved these books. But overtime, less-than-favorable reviews started flooding in, and they sank in popularity.
So what is it that makes a book instantly popular and then later become the book that’s always bashed? Is it because there’s something in it that reflects a current cultural need and desire, and once that need is gone, it does the opposite? Is it because our friends like it, so at some level we feel like we do too? Or is it because we are caught up in all the tricks through the first read, but on the second we see the flaws?
And at the end of the day, does this even matter?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!