The books go on and on

I have just finished reading Melissa Marr’s Darkest Mercy, the last book in the Wicked Lovely series about faeries. When I finish a series of books, I have a mixture of satisfactions and sadness. I’m glad that I got to the end, that I found out what happened to the characters I’ve grown to love but I’m sad I won’t be seeing them again, I won’t have the same anticipation again. If I ever read the series again, I’ll know what’s coming next.

However, I don’t always enjoy series. Melissa Marr’s first novel Wicked Lovely was brilliant – original and quirky, it was a great read but for me the series did not keep up to this level. It just got so weird. I didn’t really know what was going on half the time and it seemed really drawn out, for example the central love triangle just went round in circles and ended exactly how it started. I feel the same about a lot of series – if they’re not panned out as such, the first book is really good but the others flounder a bit because it’s obvious they’re being paid to drag it out when that’s not neccessarily what the story requires. You can usually tell if it started out as a series or just one book that got moved into a series.

Often a series works better of it’s just a continuing story, not an arc that must end, for example the Sookie stories vampire stories by Charlaine Harris are in about book 9 now but still work because there doesn’t need to be a fixed end point, it’s just the story of her life.
Whereas the House of Night vampire series by PC and Kristin Cast is dragging its heels at book 9 because you know there is a central story we’re weaving our way towards and they’re filling the bits in the middle to ge to it.

Probably the best series I’ve ever read is Harry Potter. This is because it was so well planned out from the start. She knew what needed to happen and even though JK Rowling tweaked it along the way and even suffered writer’s block, she had the bones of the books from the start, the years of Harry’s school life and the central arc of Lord Voldemort did work over the seven books. Since HP and the arrival of Twilight, there are more and more supernatural books on the market for young adults. There are whole sections in the bookshops over here given to “Dark Romance” books of this genre and almost all of them are series. There must have been a decision that young adults need to have a series to bother reading and the more books they can put in the series, the better because this means more money.

There is now a trend towards spin-off books too. You think a series has finished but then they announce a spin-off to make sure you don’t kill yourself or anything. Case in point – Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead or House of Night series. There’s even a rumour that Stephenie Meyer is planning a new Twilight book to focus on Jacob and Renesme Cullen and their romance. I’m in tow minds as to whether this is a good thing – on one hand if I have enjoyed a series like I have with Vampire Academy or Twlight, I would love to read more in that world but only if the quality is there. I don’t want flogging a dead horse to come into play.

I am starting to get confused with the number of series I am reading. I have to keep a constant eye on Amazon to make sure I don’t miss the next book coming out. Here’s what I’m in the middle of right now:

  • Maggie Stiefvator – Shiver series. Book 3 of 3 out in July.
  • Kimberly Derting – The Body Finder series. Book 2 of 3 out now.
  • PC and Kristin Cast – The House of Night series. Book 9 of 12 out in November.
  • Ally Carter – Gallagher Girl series. Book 4 out now.
  • Cassandra Clare – Mortal Instruments. Book 4 of 6 out now.
  • Carrie Jones – Need pixies. Book 3 out now.
  • Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy series. Spin off series starts in August (main series had 6 books)
  • Alyson Noel – Immortals series. Book 6 of 6 out in August.
  • Lauren Kate – Fallen series. Book 3 out in June.
  • Andrea Cremer – Nightshade; Jennifer Lynn Barnes – Raised by Wolves; Ally Condie – Matched; Kristen White – Paranormalcy – all announced as series now.

Phew. I’m exhausted 🙂

As a writer, I can see why a series is a popular path for authors – steady money, building a fan base, the lure of the bestseller list and possibilities of movies and merchandise. I don’t think it shows any sign of slowing down, I just hope we don’t lose quality along the way. Maybe I need to go and sketch an outline for a series 🙂

Are you in the middle of any book series? Are you a fan of them?

Vix

xx

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29 thoughts on “The books go on and on

  1. Don’t really need book series, but I do read books by the same authors (Cecelia Ahern and Marian Keyes nut here!!)

    I’ve heard that there’s a SATC spin-off coming out soon? I really want to read that, along with the SATC book. damn, I need to do more reading! x

      • oh wow, I may have to check them out! And the movie sounds cool, too! Not too sure if it will be as great as the ones with SJP et al… 🙂

  2. Just a few books on the go!
    I know what you mean about the Wickedly Lovely books – the first few had me rivetted but then it was as if she didn’t quite know where to take them.
    I tend to have many different books on the go, I have a Stephen Fry, Saffina Desforges and Kelley Armstrong on the go at the moment.

  3. I definitely agree that it can be obvious when a book started as one and then the author decided to start a series. The last Vampire Diaries book has kind of been like that. It just got too weird for me. Right now I’m reading Sookie Stackhouse series and A Game of Thrones series and Snow Queen series lol! 🙂

  4. Great post as always. I love talking about books. I’m reading some nonfiction now…need to get back to some fiction for sure. Just finished “Mini Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella, cute book (though I haven’t read the whole Shopaholic series).
    I remember with Twilight, I loved loved the first book…then each subsequent book was less “my thing”…but I still liked the series.
    I’m shamed to say I’ve only read the first 4 Harry Potter…I need to start with #1 again.
    There are 5 books in the Percy Jackson series, and I’ve read the first 3 and LOVED them…but I cannot seem to get the last 2 at my library — yet!
    Of the series you mention above, what would be a good thing to try out? I need to see if my library has any…anything that is captivating and stuff…Vampire Academy? Night World? Vampire Diaries? etc…

  5. I think the problem lies in the focus on potential series rather than simply telling a good story for the book that you are writing NOW. I recognize that some stories need more time (or more books) to be told fully. But, if each book tells a complete story, which also adds to the series as a whole, then readers can pick a series up anywhere and decide whether or not they want to go back to the beginning or move on to the next. I think there are very few people who can truly arc a story through multiple books, but many people can tell great stories that leave readers wanting more.

  6. I’m totally hooked on the Sookie Stackhouse Series (the book series that HBO’s True Blood is based on). The best part is that you can totally read them, and still watch the show because although the show has a loose base on the plots of the novels, both the books and the shows can really stand on their own.

  7. I’m reading book no:2 of House of Night and while the first one was kind of fun I was disappointed at how obviously it is a neverending series (I mean the first book covers what – a week?) I am getting rather bored already and you say there are ten more to go?? I think that if it doesn’t pick up soon I’ll cut my losses and start on one of the others you’ve talked about (maybe Sookie 🙂 )
    Loved twilight and Harry Potter though… Started on Game of thrones a few years ago (Elli absolutely loves that series), but only read the first one and a half – but I’m going to refresh my memory with the TV show and then start on book 2 again – it was really fun! (just a little heavy)

    • Yeah it drags a bit as they only cover short time in each book and there are so many of them – warning, the first few books were the best in my opinion so if you’re not sure now it may get worse for you 🙂

  8. I’ve read a lot of YA series, but there aren’t too many that hold my attention past the first book. When I finish the first book, I don’t really feel a great need to rush out and buy the second. One exception to this: Gone by Michael Grant. I’m not even halfway through with the first book and I’m already planning on getting the rest of the series.

  9. Oh man, I am a huge fan of Twilight and Harry Potter. Not necessarily the movies – though I don’t hate them, I just like the books better. 🙂 Another series I love is the Mark of the Lion series. If any of those series were continued down the line, I’d flip. Seriously. There’s just something about characters that I’m already invested in that makes me want to hear more and more about them. 🙂

  10. I haven’t read that particular series, but I know what you mean about having some sort of plan. I’ve watched series where it just felt like end it already, but I watch because I put in the commitment.
    I think the key to anything is proper preparation. Especially when it’s a world you can control, you need a plan of some sort. You may alter it during the process, but an initial plan is important.

  11. I have always enjoyed reading novels but have not been reading one since…um 10 years ago *blush*. You’re such an avid reader Vix! I think I should really pick up reading again 🙂

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