With the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the “Harry Potter” series has officially come to an end (with the exception of the upcoming release of “Pottermore,” a new, interactive online world to accompany the books). So with no more midnight premieres to look forward to, what’s a die-hard “Potter” fan to do about the gaping hole the series left in his or her life? Luckily, Intermission’s here with some suggestions to fill the void.
The Hunger Games
Heir-apparent to the “Harry Potter” craze, “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins has already sold millions, and hype continues to build for the first movie adaptation, due in March of next year. The series stars Katniss Everdeen, a scrappy and independent teenager who faces off against fellow children from across Panem (the remains of the United States after environmental disaster ruins the nation) in a brutal event called the Hunger Games. The books are a lightening-fast read, and the movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson, looks promising. “The Hunger Games” has the same fiery action as “Harry Potter,” though it is considerably bleaker. If you run through the books too fast, check out Suzanne Collins’ other fantastic series, “The Underland Chronicles.”
A Song of Ice and Fire
With a rich fantasy world and huge cast of characters, the “Song of Ice and Fire” series by G. R. R. Martin has many of the elements that “Potter” fans crave. The book series, with five books out so far and two to come, has something else in common with Harry Potter – sheer length. The first book alone is over 800 pages, so it is sure to keep fans busy for a while. Or if you don’t feel like reading, HBO is adapting the series for TV. The first season aired last spring, winning accolades (including 13 Emmy nominations) and hordes of new fans. Also with some similarities to “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Once and Future King,” this series has all the drama of “Harry Potter” with more family and political drama – and not to mention more brutal death scenes (“A Golden Crown,” anyone?).
And now for something completely different: “Monster” is an 18-volume manga (comic book) series by Naoki Urasawa, a renowned Japanese author. It stars Dr. Tenma, an idealistic brain surgeon who sacrifices his career to save the life of a young boy, Johann, rather than an important politician. His career in ruins, he discovers that the boy he saved is a psychotic killer, and the doctor embarks on a bizarre quest to stop the monster he created. Set in Eastern Europe, “Monster” has the suspense of “Harry Potter,” an eclectic cast of characters and a Voldemort-like villain, though its setting is realistic and the tone much darker. If comic books aren’t your style, check out the animated adaptation, which faithfully follows the series in 74 episodes.
The Vampire Diaries
Yes, this is a television series on the CW. And yes, it shares the network’s penchant for soapy drama, improbably beautiful characters and self-seriousness. However, this under-appreciated show also features a fast-moving plot full of addicting twists and a world of vampires, werewolves and witches that exists right under the nose of regular people, much like in “Harry Potter.” The series stars Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), an ordinary high school girl who falls for vampire Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) while recovering from her parents’ untimely deaths. She soon finds herself caught between Stefan and his mischievous brother Damon (played with panache by Ian Somerhalder of “Lost” fame) as she discovers her identity as a kind of vampire “chosen one” a la “Harry Potter” (It’s way better than “Twilight,” we promise). Two seasons have aired so far, and the third season premieres Sept. 15.