The Never Ending Series… (a Discussion)

I love to read books in a series.

I read a lot more books from series than stand-alones. And there’s a few reasons why.

Having a story cross more than book gives more room for world building, character development and general awesomeness. Plus it gives me more time with the characters than just one single novel.

But is there such thing as too much of a good thing?

I’ve been going back the past few weeks and trying to finish off some series which I’d read the first book but not competed the entire series and it has made me wonder – are there times when one book would have been enough? Can expanding a story across multiple volumes be to its detriment?

I was reading a trilogy (or what I thought was a trilogy) and when I finished the third book I was surprised to find out that there was another book coming. The second and third instalments felt like filler and I have to admit – I was a little annoyed that everything was being strung out for yet another book. It turns out I’m not alone in my frustration – many reviews for the series in question were commenting about how the plot seemed to be stretched for no other reason except to sell more books.

With this particular book – it makes sense. It was one of the fastest selling romance series in the past ten years. But it doesn’t make it right.

This trend of stretching plot out is crossing over to films with more than ever movies based on a book being broken up into multiple volumes. (And yes – I know this has happened in the past for example Mario Puzo’s The Godfather but lets face it… the Godfather was just epic).

And then there’s companion novels – the kinds where they tell the exact same story yet are told from different points of view. Do they add an extra element and value to the plot or is it just an excuse to buy the same book with a tiny twist? To be honest – I don’t love these types of books but I do appreciate getting to see another side to the same story. I would rather read one book which switches points of view back and forth than two books with the same story and just a different narrator.

I still love reading series and so many authors do it perfectly – from the first page to the very last, everything feels planned and right for whatever universe they exist in. Richelle Mead writes the most amazing six book series where no book is just spanning time for the next big thing to happen. Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire series is well and truly in the double digits and from what I’ve read (I’m not quite up to date) does so wonderfully with each book having it’s own value to the series and not just a filler.

Not being a writer maybe I’m missing something more than just an attempt to write more books in preexisting series to make fans buy more copies but there are some series which feel like a blatant disregard to plot. I don’t think this is most series – but more the exception rather than the rule.

What do you think? Am I out of line with my rant regarding never ending series? Have there been series which you feel are more filler than substance? Feel free to let me know what you think 🙂 

8 Comments

  1. I completely agree. I don’t experience it as much as I used to, since I read mostly contemporary YA. But some of the fantasy series seem to go on FOREVER. I would love to read a standalone spec fic, or even one that stays a trilogy rather than releasing another when it already seems finished.

    Great discussion topic, got me thinking 🙂
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Excerpts from Wanderland, my Alice in Wonderland RetellingMy Profile

  2. I definitely get very sick of series. There are some that I love, but generally I’ll read the first book, and often I stop there.

    I have definitely read series where the middle books felt like filler. It’s very frustrating.

    I think I would like more companion novels – books set in the same world, but with different main characters. Or I love the way Marissa Meyer is telling her Lunar Chronicles story. That’s brilliant.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: Falling for Max by Shannon StaceyMy Profile

  3. Some series can handle being a series, but others are just a couple books with many fillers. I’m immediately thinking of House of Night here, where 12 instalments were far from necessary. They could’ve easily told the story in about 6. Three would be the best for me, although then you suffer from middle book syndrome… ah, it’s tough. Point is, I prefer standalones.
    Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections recently posted…Cider With A Writer: Lauren OliverMy Profile

  4. I’ve been reading the House of Night series for like all my life and it’s so crazy how many books there are. I think there are 12 now?! It’s getting a little absurd. And it sucks because I feel like they’re just dragging the series on because they’re making money from it. I’d love to see the authors release something new!
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Stacking The Shelves #39: Landline & MasqueradeMy Profile

  5. I believe authors should write the amount of books that is required for the story to be told. Whether that’s 10 or just 2. I don’t like it when the books feel more like fillers and moneymakers instead of necessarily for the storyline.. I really don’t mind reading long series, but the story has to have enough quality to handle it 🙂
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Let it go #3. Seven Waters and bullies.My Profile

  6. I love a great YA series too, but it’s when they drag on that I feel like I’ve wasted my time investing in them. The Mortal Instruments is one that really should have stopped at the trilogy. It ended, wrapped up nicely… Then a fourth book comes along. To me, that’s just cashing in on it’s popularity, then bring out a sister series that is basically the SAME series, but set historically. I mean, come on. The Lux series is another one that just kept going on, and on, as well as her other series (the name escapes me). Even die hard fans will lose interest when you’re just repeating the same storyline and drawing everything out with dramatics.

    I’m loving duologies at the moment. Short and sharp with no need for the dreaded middle book syndrome.
    Kelly recently posted…Storm by Brigid KemmererMy Profile

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