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?