Thursday, May 13, 2010

To "series" or not to "series"

I read the most pathetic book the other day. Seriously. I was dumbfounded that it was ever published. But here's the thing, I knew the author is a talented writer because I've read a number of books he has written and they are very good. So what happened to this one you ask? Well, it was the third book in a trilogy that I believe never should have been a series. Sometimes it's best to stop at one.

I'm talking about the middle grade THINGS NOT SEEN series by Andrew Clements. The first book in the series is about a blind girl who meets a boy that she doesn't know has become invisible. Since she's blind it's all the same to her. Anyhow, when she finally learns his secret, the two teenagers figure out what happened to turn him invisible (spoiler: it has something to do with an electric blanket) and they are able to turn him back. It's an interesting read for a middle grader. In fact, several of my children read this in 5th grade and they really liked it.

The problem with the other two books, THINGS HOPED FOR and THINGS THAT ARE, is that the real story was done in book one. Finished. Complete. No need for more. Honestly, the third book, THINGS THAT ARE, was practically a monologue from the blind girl about her life. And the book's slight attempt at romance is so weak I had to laugh out loud.

So why did Andrew Clements write them? Was it because he loved the first story and didn't want to let it go? Could be. Maybe it was because the first book sold well and there was money to be made. I have no idea. What I do know is that as a reader, if an author disappoints me with a poorly done series, it gives me a sour taste in my mouth for his/her later books.

Despite what my rantings may sound like, I really do like a good series. More importantly, so do most kids. We hate to say goodbye to characters we love. So how do you know when to keep going and when to stop? It's a fine line, but an important one.

How about all of you? Are there any series that you hated/loved? Let me know.


  1. I loved Things Not Seen. Sad when someone takes a series a step too far. It's kind of like Disney making a 2 and 3 to the Cinderella story, the ultimate fairy tale. We don't need to know that Cindy never fit in with the royalty and that one of the ugly stepsisters eventually apologized for the way she treated her step sister. Leave it alone!
    I think more people should take the 'Seinfeld' philosophy, which was, bow out while your still hot and people are sad to see you go.
    Perfect example: True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. That book begs for a sequel, but Avi never wrote one. It is part of what makes that book so mysterious and amazing.

  2. I wonder if the publisher pressed him to write a series as part of the deal. I have to think he knew it was crap?

  3. I hope my sequel isn't a mistake... hahah!

  4. What a great post. I was just thinking about this exact thing last night. I'm a fan of Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. Love the series. I even read his stand alone book The Candy Shop Wars. The funny thing is I felt this book was a great stand alone book, but at the end of the five book in the Fablehaven series Brandon talks about writing another book and making The Candy Shop Wars a series because so many of his fans loved it and didn't want to see it end. It worried me a bit because if he doesn't do it write it would be just like Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements.

    I really do feel it is a fine line when writing a series. I think the best ones are the ones where the story doesn't end or the author wrote the one book with it in mind it could be a series if the first book does well.

  5. I also liked Fablehaven. I thought each book got better in the series.


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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.