See also: TL;DR
I stumbled across this article earlier today. It describes the reaction of fans to one of the latest dystopian YA series, Divergent by Veronica Roth. Now I haven’t read the books myself (though I guess I should add them to my “to-read” pile), but apparently the reactions are very… vitriol. The reason I’m even writing this post is because of another book I’m reading, Fangirl by Rainbow Roswell. The whole process of fanfiction and various fandoms and their relationships to the Internet absolutely fascinates me. Maybe this has happened before, but it seems like within the last several years, fans take ownership of their fandoms to a whole new level. As the author of the linked post points out, once a book hits a certain level of notoriety, we no longer see them as books. There is a point though that I disagree with:
The problem is, [the readers’] demands do not have to be met. They feel like partial owners, but they are really just readers. This discrepancy between perceived power and real power is jarring.
Maybe at the end of the day, this is true in terms of publication. But this idea hearkens back to my Literary Theory classes. One of the many, many dry pieces of readings I had to go through in those classes was a philosopher/theorist (? don’t ask me which) who posed the idea that once a book leaves the author’s hands, the reader in turn creates a “new” work based on their interpretation of the book. And that interpretation can change the entire context of a book. This is where I really see fanfiction come into play. At one point, the main character of Fangirl makes an argument for writing fanfic, saying something along the lines of “when the writer is done, you can still play in their world.” Fanfic and other fan creations give new life and new meaning to stories, and really can impact how a story is viewed or interpreted. I have specific examples in mind, but my brain is not connecting. So I’ll update after I’ve eaten and napped. As self- and online/serial publications continue to grow, I think we’ll see even more growth in fan interpretations. But that’s just my musing. Carry on.