When I finished reading The Deathly Hallows, I felt like an old friend had moved away. My least favorite part about reading any book–and more particularly, a series of books–is that sinking feeling when it’s over. Thankfully, authors are recognizing this and providing their readers a way to continue enjoying their favorite characters, settings, and plotlines: enter online interactive book (series) sites.
Probably the best known among these is Pottermore. Here the reader, if she was diligent enough to get in on the Beta level by watching the site continually to figure out when that blasted quill would show up so she could answer the trivia question and gain early entrance (no, I am not bitter), can experience the book through multi-media presentations that bring life to the pages. There are also notes from the author and posting areas for readers to leave remarks and artwork. This site has a social media element to it, but is centered on the Harry Potter book series. Not withstanding a trip to Orlando, this is one great way for us muggles to keep living in the wizarding world.
Another space just joining the ranks of interactive series sites is Gallagher Academy, which is based on the book series by Ally Carter. This site is set up like the homepage of a college, complete with an admissions test and course descriptions. I’d love to take those courses! Characters from the series are highlighted, and the author is serializing a new short story. Of course, only enrolled students can read the new story. The first chapter of the upcoming book in the series is also available. I didn’t see a place for posts from readers, though, which was a bit disappointing as I think one of the biggest draws for a site like this is the opportunity to interact with the author.
With so many book- or series-based websites available, what differentiates them? Common elements on most of these online haunts include quizzes to see which character you’re most like, fan fiction forums, discussion boards, and, certainly, links to purchasing the books. Some of these sites also have special pieces like the language guide on Shurtugal.com, the Warriors’ Code on WarriorCats.com, or the Oracle of The Amanda Project. But, for me, excellence is in the details. As you experience these sites, some have only text-based formats while others tie in tremendously with the book or series and include amazing, small details making the site new every time you visit.
Personally, I hope these interactive sites become a trend in YA. If they do, I may never have to say good-bye to my favorite book characters again. I may be able to just continue living in their world until … until … the electricity goes out, and I find I forgot to charge my battery. There is, indeed, still something to be said for the tradition book!
— Michelle Blank, currently reading Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (I know, I know … I got sidetracked)