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Spoiler alert level: High

I know that I will have to be very careful about seeing spoilers online for the last Harry Potter book when it comes out. But I had no idea people had experienced this sort of thing when the previous one came out.

Lisa Miller arrived later than she should have for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on July 16, 2005 — a slip-up she rues to this day.

It took about 20 minutes for Miller, 26, to get inside the London bookstore where she bought the sixth book in J.K. Rowling’s juggernaut fantasy series. But before she had the novel in hand, a crucial plot point was ruined for her.

“Some ‘lovely’ person drove past where we were queuing and shouted the spoiler of who died in HBP,” Miller wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. “It was so horrible to think of it being true that even when I read the book, I still held out hope that they were making it up!”

Pranksters pulled similar stunts worldwide. In Dallas, a driveby spoilsport yelled “[spoiler spoiler spoiler]” to fans gathered outside a Barnes & Noble. A blurry, shaky video of the verbal assault can be found on YouTube.

Now, as the July 21 release of the seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, approaches, fans who have waited the better part of a decade to find out the ultimate fate of Harry, his friends and his nemeses are taking no chances.

But how far do they have to go? Must they close their eyes, cover their ears and scream, “LALALALA?”


Many fans don’t want to give up the excitement and camaraderie of a midnight release party, but they know they’re putting themselves at risk.

“We advise people — I know this is terrible — to bring headphones to the book release and put them on as they leave the store so they’re not subject to the idiot across the street screaming the end to them,” said Melissa Anelli, a webmaster of the Leaky Cauldron, a prominent Harry Potter fan site.

Good Lord, I had no idea. As with all previous installments, our copy of Book Seven is on order from Amazon UK, so I won’t have the idiot-at-the-bookstore problem to worry about. But man, I can’t believe there are people like that out there. To me, this is the equivalent of defacing a painting. Why in the world would anyone do that?

Anyway. What evasive measures will you be taking to avoid having the book’s end spoiled for you?

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One Comment

  1. Patrick says:

    A few years ago I had heard a lot of buzz about the movie “The Usual Suspects”. I’d read a few reviews and was thumbing through some wannabe Rolling Stone magazine when I got to the 5 word review of “The Usual Suspects” which said “XXXXX XXXXX is Keyser Soze.” Except they actually used the name of the actor involved. I wanted to kill the reviewer.