Friday, July 22, 2011

Series Syndromes

With trilogies and series becoming so popular, I've been noticing certain problems that arise as the result of this trend. The first three syndromes are going to refer specifically to trilogies, though they can occur in series as well.

First Book Syndrome:
This occurs in a series where the first book is build-up for the rest of the series. Done well, a first book has a strong arc but leaves enough threads so that the series can continue. A book with this syndrome, on the other hand, might read like an exposition for the series or backstory that the author feels she needs to get through in order to lead into the rest of the series.

Examples of good first books: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

Middle Book Syndrome:
This is probably the most prevalent. MBS occurs when the middle book in a series acts as a bridge between the previous book and the next. This book is there only to get through certain events that have to occur before the series can end. A great middle book has its own arc that ties in aspects from the previous book but rackets up the tension in preparation for the finale.

Examples of good middle books: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Fade by Lisa McMann

Last Book Syndrome:
This one's exceedingly rare. Sometimes, the tension by the previous books gets so high that the final book can offer a disappointing ending. It might end in a way that no one expects, but in an unsatisfying way. A good last book ties up all the loose ends in an explosive and satisfying conclusion.

Examples of good last books: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare, The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, Gone by Lisa McMann, Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I've been reading a lot of this one lately. With the Era of Series upon us, more and more books are being turned into series. For some that's a good thing. For others, it's not. Some books do not need to be turned into series and making them one results in an extremely drawn out series that feels like it's going to drag on forever. Off the top of my head, I can think of two such series that caused me to completely stop reading them simply because I couldn't take the pointless drama for the sake of continuing a series. One of those series I'm just going to wait for my best friend to read and then ask her to tell me what happens.


M.J. Horton said...

I really do love book series, but I'm definitely seeing a lot of the 'First Book Syndrome' recently. I'm glad I haven't seen much of the other two. hehe.

Brittany said...

I also like book series and trilogies, but I hate it when they're stretched out like you said. I wish writers wouldn't write series just for the sake of being a series, but instead because the story arc continues over several books (like Harry Potter or the Hunger Games). So many book series would just be fine as one book.