There’s been a lot of talk recently about how there are no singular books anymore. It’s always a trilogy; or has a sequel; or will be a bestselling series. People have called it “series syndrome” and are disgusted when they see a cliffhanger, or a notice for the next book in the novel that they just finished reading.
Some people speculate that it’s just because the authors and publishers want to make money. This may be true – doesn’t everybody? Some even go so far to call publishers and authors “greedy” in which I say, shame on you. They’re making a world that you devour, and just want to allow some readers to continue the experience.
What I think, based on personal experience, is that I just don’t want to give up a world that I’ve been a part of for so long.
For example, Harry Potter. Where would we be today if Harry was only a part of one book? It would have been another “good” book. My favorite books were the thicker ones, around the fourth and the seventh. Where would Harry Potter be? Would Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe have a completely different childhood? The answer is yes, because Harry Potter was an integral parts of almost all of our lives. Some people have spent years devoted to Harry and we followed him through the Triwizard Tournament, The Chamber of Secrets, and his quest to find the Horcruxes. The Sorcerer’s Stone isn’t even considered one of his biggest triumphs!
It wouldn’t have developed into the worldwide phenomenon that it is today. On July 15, 2011, many readers and movie-watchers said teary goodbyes to the world that they craved. People were sad, so J.K. Rowling decided to create Pottermore.
This “interactive reading experience” made a lot of people happy with the prospect, and I suspect that it will be majorly (even more) talked about when it releases in October. Why did this happen? Because the series was never going to be forgotten. Readers wanted to live in it forever.
Everybody who says that they’re sick of series, I respect your opinion, I really do. But judging by my reaction when a series ends, I would be happy if it just went on forever.
Whenever I read the final book in a series, when I finish it, I start sobbing. The final book leaves me with a feeling of exhilaration, anticipation, and a cold sense of dread. I want to read it, but I know that it will mean that the story world created will be closed off to me forever. I look forward to it, but I know that every word will add up to a bittersweet ending.
The worst is when said book has an awful, awful ending. How would you be satisfied after that if it were only a single book? For example, I HATED the ending to Ally Carter’s Only The Good Spy Young. It’s an amazing series, and was one of mNowhere had I found an article or news piece or anything that said that the series was going to continue. I had thought that it was the last book!
My mom asked me why I was crying. I somehow managed to choke out that “that book had the worst ending and now it’s over” and I was incontrollably sobbing for the rest of the day. The next day, a blog or something posted that Ally Carter was currently working on “GG5” and it wasn’t over.
I’m hoping that the next novel has a great ending. Because then? The ending to the previous wouldn’t even matter! Everything would be magicked away with the magic wand of Ally Carter’s words.
Also, a trilogy is perfect for most. There’s a killer intro book, a delicious middle, and an intense final book. There’s one original, one interesting filler, and one conclusion. It usually satisfies everybody, and makes sure that you don’t drag the same plot lines over and over through the dirt.
Some authors hit the big time with ten-series books (ahem, Rachel Caine!) while others fizzle. The only problem with having a really long series is when nothing happens in a few books. Some authors seem to think, oh well I have one major twist in here, that qualifies for a book. What we really want to see is MANY twists. It’s only THEN when a long series seems worth reading.
Take J.K. Rowling. Yes, I keep using her as an example, because she planned it out and executed her series PERFECTLY. Each book in her Harry Potter series added a lot of major details and plot points, and had a definite conclusion, while still dangling storylines that would be added up to the bigger picture of the showdown between Voldemort and Harry in the 7th book.
There was the Vampire Academy series, which was amazing and hugely successful. Once people read one of the books, they are addicted. Richelle Mead’s writing, her brilliant plots, and her wonderful characters made up for a well-loved series. It was so successful that she even created a spin-off series after the Vampire Academy series ended.
Then there was the popular MG series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians which has been made into a movie and has persuaded many younger kids to start reading. The Lightning Thief was one of my favorite books when I was younger, and the series was perfectly written, exploring Greek myth in an engaging way that also allowed me to get interested in mythology.
Some series that I had religiously devoted myself too (House of Night and Maximum Ride) were starting to lose their appeal to me. Like I said before, I needed a book to have several huge events in it to make it worthwhile to read. I needed to have something happen, or I wouldn’t buy the book.
To be honest, for those types of series, I just read the reviews or wait until somebody that I know has read it. If they say that it was really intense or “nonstop action”, then I’ll buy it. Something has to happen for a series to be worthwhile. I can not emphasis this enough.
Some extremely elaborate worlds needed the extra book or two. Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, said that he originally planned for the last book to be Brisingr, and it was originally supposed to be a trilogy. However, as he kept writing, he realized that Brisingr would have been even longer. Those of you (I know I have) who have read Brisingr, you see how that would be. Brisingr is a HUGE book, 764 pages!
And so with this, he is writing Inheritance, the final book in the Eragon series, which is supposed to be 800 pages! If he had ended with Brisingr, it would have been 1564 pages, which would make it the longest book that I have ever read, previously War and Peace. In this novel, we are expecting a showdown between Eragon and Galbatorix and we will discover if the Varden will triumph over the empire.
Then some single books that were a perfect hit. They were either a smaller plot on a smaller scale or an explosive read that would be dulled if stretched into a series. One of my favorite books is actually a single, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Brilliant and beautiful, it is one of those books that would appeal to teens or adults and will remain one of my favorites for a long, long time. I think it may even be one of my favorites for the rest of my life. It is one of those books that will never leave you.
Honestly, most series are perfect. Trilogies become hits and are the perfect length for both seasoned and reluctant readers. It allows for wiggle room, while still keeping things focused. Smaller plots are allowed to melt into the bigger picture and create a stunning ending.
“Series Syndrome”? I think not. I think that it’s perfect. Opinions? Post them in the comments!