We've all experienced it, some of us only once, and some of us a small handful of times: That one novel that grips your imagination so tightly that it becomes the oxygen on which you subsist until you reach the dreaded final page. And then, as suddenly as it swept you in — wham! — the magic is over.
What is it about this one book that drew you in in the first place? Perhaps the author had you at hello (because there's nothing like a masterful first sentence), perhaps a sudden twist in its plot hooked you when you least expected it, or maybe the love affair was more of a slow burn. Whatever the case, finishing an epic novel can truly be a bittersweet experience — one filled with the desire to remain in the universe of the story for as long as possible (this being the "denial" stage). This roller coaster of emotions is even more intense for those of us who have invested months (or even years) consumed in a trilogy or series.
Is it better to have read and lost, than never to have read at all? The following are the emotional stages of finishing your favorite novel, for those of you who have known the heartache of moving on after a good book cuts you loose.
Nothing can get me down now! I'm too high from the brilliance of that final sentence! (Side effects of this first phase include light headedness and tunnel vision.)
"The End"? No way! I'm too busy rehashing my favorite moments in the story to accept that it has reached its finish.
Maybe my bookstore will have another novel exactly like this one, or maybe the story has a sequel I didn't know about, or a prequel I didn't know about, or...
The "Withdrawing from Society" Phase
I resent everyone in my life who doesn't seem interested in dissecting every page of this masterpiece with me. Screw 'em. I'll just withdraw to my room where I can stare, misty eyed, at its dust jacket.
If I go back and read the entire thing much s-l-o-w-e-r, it'll be just like I'm experiencing it again for the first time! Right?
Just because I'm dabbling in another book doesn't mean I prefer it. I'll just skim the first chapter and then get back to the clear favorite.
Reluctantly Moving On
Okay, this new book isn't so bad after all. Actually, it's quite good. And I thought I'd never love again...