A really good book series is like a volatile, steamy love affair. It elicits strong emotions from you, both good and bad. Love, lust, anger, hate, despair, joy, elation, and damnation. Sometimes they continue on past the point that they should, other times, they end all too soon. They are consuming, and if done correctly, will forever change a small piece of you. I’ve encountered both in my reading history.
I’m not someone who takes joy in being critical or nasty. When reviewing novels, I always look for a postive aspect to talk about. But in discussing both ends of the spectrum on a book series, I’ll have to point out a little negative. In the beginning, I loved the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. I was over the moon when HBO optioned it, and it became the True Blood series. But by book ten, I’d had enough. The storylines seemed as though they were becoming a stretch, and frankly, I didn’t care for Sookie’s character anymore. The series had stayed too long at the party. And as much as I would have lamented the end of the series, I wish it had ended with the proverbial ‘leaving while you’re still on top,’ instead of inciting disdain for a character that I’d really cared about.
Now, for a series done right……..look into The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Clare has done nothing short of work a literary masterpiece. Originally, she had only slated to write three books: City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass. Within those three books, there was a perfect story arc. Though you cursed the coming of the end, the story was resolved, characters on the paths they should be. But this siren with a pen went a step further….she went BACK and wrote BOTH a prequel series and an additional three books to the existing series. Each one of these gems fit seemlessly and flawlessly into the intricate web of a lexicon that Clare has created. Each one complimenting, not detracting from the series. Like puzzle pieces sliding delightfully into place.
On a slightly different angle on serial novels, Tana French is another writer who elicits admiration and extreme fan girl devotion from this reader/writer. Her Dublin Murder series is serial, but each novel could be read as a stand alone. What makes them truly great, is that she takes a character from the previous novel and spins a story circling around them. Getting to see these characters in a more initimate and a completely new perspective, is not only an interesting juxaposition to their story, it gives a new, suttle nuance to the previous novel. Do yourself a favor and read these novels. You’ll be a better writer for it.
I have an idea for a young adult trilogy of novels. And while I’m still working on fleshing out my first novel, which is contemporary adult, the characters for this work are growing and writhing in the womb of my imagination; dying to be born. As crazy as it sounds, already knowing how the story ends, there is one character extremely beloved to me of this unwritten series, and his story reaches beyond the bounds of three books, which has given me the foundation for a spinoff series. How silly it must sound plotting a spinoff series for a collection of books you have yet to write! But I just wanted to bring you inside my crowded stream of consciousness, to give you a peek at all the things running through my brain while these characters and this story continues to gestate.
Hoping that, perhaps, some of my fellow bloggers, readers, writers share some of the interesting takes on what constitutes a good series of books. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and ideas!