Great Expectations, Can Readers Expect Too Much?

After reading Son of a Witch and feeling rather let down by the whole novel, I wondered whether I was at fault. I wondered if maybe I had expected too much. Having loved its predecessor so much maybe I had hyped the new novel up far too much in my own head? I don’t think this is the case though, lets take another example of this shall we which we can compare and contrast this with.

Harry Potter. Last year saw the launch of the latest and last Harry Potter novel, and ‘Potter-Mania’ reached a whole new level with the final instalment. People had been guessing for weeks (months and years) would Harry die or survive? I wont spoil the ending for the very few of you who haven’t read it yet. The expectation of the novel was so high a large amount of people who I heard say ‘oh it was such a let down’ or ‘well I had guessed the ending and found J. K. Rowling’s ending below par’. She wouldn’t have been able to win either way. Now Harry Potter is a cult, a series of novels so popular with both adults and children it’s untrue. Was I disappointed by it? Slightly but only because I read the epilogue, if you have read it you might understand why, god this not giving things away is difficult.

Now Gregory Maguire’s novels have a following though not on such a grand scale The Wizard of Oz almost does. So I think I was fair in expecting a lot, I mean if you are going to write a prequel or prequels sequel to a classic tale you have to be bloody good, and Wicked was. However there are factors that a reader should take into consideration after they have read something they feel is poor or below what they expected. These could be…

1. Where you really in the right mood for that book? It’s all very well finishing off a crime novel and saying ‘oh I hated that’ when actually when you started you wanted a light read with some comedy. In that case can I please recommend the Agatha Raisin series by M.C Beeton? This collection hits both nails of crime and comedy firmly on the head every time, in my opinion.

2. Did you give enough of your concentration to the novel? I have been doing all the rehearsals for a Pantomime (don’t ask) so I admit I have been shattered whilst reading this and occasionally felt my concentration waver. This is a 50/50 relationship this writing and reading malarkey. A writer spends hours writing the thing, you should try and spend as much time and concentration on a novel as you can.

3. Did you take too long to read it? Now this sounds a silly question but think about it. If you love a book it’s very difficult to put down. If your not enjoying one you read it slower therefore prolonging what could be a kind of good book into a kind of boring one. This is all dependent on your reading habits, be they 30 minutes before bed when your kids/partner/cat gives you some piece, that 50 minute train/tube/bus journey, or be in a ten minute on the loo number.

4. Peer Pressure/Others Reviews? Now this isn’t applicable to me in this instance but should be mentioned. My Gran can be a nightmare she can rave about a book so much I will read it and find it soulless. She can also dislike and berate a novel I am going to read and I love it. (I am sure this will come up in more detail in another blog one day.) Did you read a glowing or poor review in your favourite store, magazine or paper that’s slipped into your subconscious?

These are all things to be wary of. Yes we should expect a lot from our literature, be it £7.99 in Waterstones or 99p in Oxfam you are spending your spare money but most importantly your spare time on these works and you should be getting something out of it. You need to remember, as the saying goes, sometimes ‘you get out of it what you give it’ at least I think that’s an old saying and not something I have just made up? You get the drift.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Gregory Maguire, M.C. Beaton

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