What's the hype about McDonald's or Coca-Cola? What's the hype about Hollywood blockbuster films or Top 40 hits? What's the hype about fidget spinners or taking a fecking selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background? Why would people indulge themselves with any of that bollocks when there's so much delicious food and drink out there, so many terrific songs and films, so many better ways to spend time and so many better places to visit? That's not a rhetorical question, I honestly don't have any idea why massive amounts of people do any of those things. But you know what? I don't care. They can all like what they like and enjoy what they enjoy, and I'll do my own thing.
The "Harry Potter" books were the first to come around in a long time to make such a splash with young people. Kids who had never picked up a book in their life suddenly started to become interested in reading. And because so many adults are not big readers to begin with, the books didn't present a challenge - they're easily digestible, straightforward and simple, so they appealed to a great number of people from many different age groups.
Does that make them "good"? Does that mean they inherently "live up to the hype"? Well, I suppose that would depend on what type of person you are and what appeals to you. I gave them a go because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I read the first few and found them to be tripe, through and through. Many people claim that the series gets better as one moves on to the later volumes, but I'd had enough and decided to call it a day. I don't see the point in slogging through books that don't appeal to me. You might not feel the same way about them.
It's rather silly to ask why something might appeal to a lot of people if you don't actually know anything about it. The books were marketed brilliantly, so the name recognition did a lot for sales, but they also received critical acclaim, and those things combined led to an explosion with films being released, a merchandising campaign worth boatloads of money, and it just went on and on.
Sadly, because so many "Harry Potter" fans lacked a basic foundation in reading before they discovered their beloved "Harry Potter" books, many are like insolent toddlers when it comes to books today. Everyone is familiar with those exasperating sprogs that won't eat anything other than chicken tenders, no matter where you take them... Get them sat down in a Chinese restaurant or a Greek restaurant or a Spanish restaurant, and all the little messers will tuck into is the chicken. It's wonderful that "Harry Potter" got people reading, but it's frustrating that so many of them can't seem to bring themselves to try anything else on the menu. If it's not "Harry Potter", then it's got to be as close to "Harry Potter" as possible.
That's where a lot of the "hype" comes from - the fact that a very sizable portion of the people who have read the books haven't read much else, so they don't have anything other than "Harry Potter" to bring to the table in any discussion about books and reading.