Think about the last book you read. Was it part of a series? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Why?
I wanted to write about series (trilogies and duologies included) and about whether or not we tend to like them more than standalone books.
Let’s start with why we love a good Series. We love the knowledge that we will get more of the characters. How many book #1’s do we read and then celebrate that there will be more books with our new favorite character?
Book #1’s that I loved:
We also love a series because we know we will consistently get a good story. If we loved the first book, we can bet we’ll love the second, right? A slightly different plot but altogether similar format again, giving us what we expect.
Book #2’s that I loved:
We also love a series because we are told to love a series. It’s a very popular thing to do right now. YA is filled with them. Mostly fantasy and dystopian, but I have read a few contemporary series as well.
My favorite Contemporary series:
With book 3 coming out next year!!
**Side note, most contemporary/ romance books are stand alone books, even if they are in the same setting. This series is an oddity in that field. I wouldn’t read book two before I read book one.
The Academy Series is another example of a contemporary series, BUT I do not recommend it at all. I won’t go into it right now. If you have questions, you can ask. Just take my word and don’t waste your time.
I’m not including series like Bloomsbury’s If Only… series where each book is a different author and new characters. Nor does this include Romance series like Raeanne Thayne’s Hope’s Crossing, where the characters live in the same setting but each book focuses on a new set of characters. I’m talking about books that deal with the same set of characters and you have to read the whole series from book one through the end to feel satisfied.
So, if we love a series so much, why do we so often dislike the last book (the end of the series)?
Author Julie Daines offers the first problem… In a book, if done well, the story arc and the character arc should be complete. There should be clear growth that you can see in the main character.
EX: Harry Potter
He lives in a cupboard with no friends—– lives at Hogwarts as a wizard and has friends.
A useless person with no skill—— learning she has powers that are maybe more powerful than everyone else
A nobody who waits on her cousin——- becomes the chosen one
Throne of glass:
In prison, dying—– The King’s Assassin
By the end of book one, there should be clear character growth. That leaves a really difficult goal for the author to create more growth in the Main Character, and that goal usually falls flat. How often do we see good growth in book one and then little to no growth in the subsequent books?
Books that fell flat after book one:
Another problem with a series is that by the time the final book is released we have accompanied the characters on their journey and we have an idea how we think it should end. We have expectations. We have wants for the character. And we start thinking we know better than the author. (Team Jacob/Team Edward, anyone?) The final book comes out, it doesn’t end the way we want, the character feels flat and you wonder why you liked them in the first place, and you end up hating the book. A scenario that happens more than we’d like.
The final, and most glaring problem, is TIME. In a multi-book series (Throne of glass, The Lunar Chronicles, Harry Potter) we wait years of our life waiting for each book to come out. We have hundreds of days to ponder what we want to have happen in the next book, but more importantly, we have hundreds of days to fall in love with new books. To completely forget what happened in the last book and realize we don’t have the enthusiasm needed to get through the next book. We read book one, wait 365 days for book two, jump for joy when it’s released, and take a whole 3 days to read the new book. Only to wait another 365 days for the next. 365 days where we read new books, push this one to the back of our mind, and move on from the hype we felt on release day. Only to realize, 365 days later, that oh ya, we did like that book, but our enthusiasm isn’t there.
Or adversely, the enthusiasm spikes, we feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, we sit down for a full 24 hours and read the entire book, and close the back cover with a, “huh, I’m not sure how I feel about that.” Why? Because the enthusiasm spike created such an expectation in our mind that the actual result felt lackluster.
So what do you think? Do you fall into the unsatisfied with most endings category, or the I love the whole series category?
Which series let you down the most? Which do you love so much that you want to read over and over?
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