06.23.10

Ever Feel Like You’ve Been Cheated?

Posted in Complaining, Random at 7:39 am by Janet

My dog is out of town this week, visiting his doting grandparents, so I have time for one more blog entry. This one is a desperate plea to writers, publishers, and editors: please, for God’s sake, stop publishing series books that don’t stand alone. A case in point: I just read The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. This book, about a young governess caring for children who have been raised by wolves, has been getting great reviews, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent reading it. But when it was over, I felt cheated. Empty. Fooled. Why? Practically nothing gets resolved. We don’t know where the children came from. We don’t know who their parents are. We don’t know who released the squirrel in the party. We don’t know what Lord Frederick is up to. We don’t know what Old Timothy’s deal is. At this point, we have way more questions than answers. Where’s the payoff? This book is one long exposition. Exposition is appropriate for the first book in a series; however, you need some resolution mixed in with all that exposition. I feel like I’m being forced into reading the next books.

Take a great series like Harry Potter. Every book has its own plot and set of challenges, and most of those issues get resolved by the end of the book. But a few niggling questions remain, and the series plot arch continues. You’re left pining for the next book. A good series should make you want to read the next book, not make you feel duped.

I fear this is a growing phenomenon. I read The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, and was left with the same empty feeling–very little was resolved. I’m so annoyed that now I refuse to read the rest of the series. What’s going on here? Did the author mean this to be a single book, and then the publisher decided to extend that single book into a series? Couldn’t the author just write a second book? Series are great, but not every book needs to be part of one. Sometimes it’s better to tie up all the loose ends in one fell swoop.

Please, writers and editors, throw us readers a bone and publish more books that are self-contained.

3 Comments »

  1. Ann P said,

    June 23, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I felt that way about the Spiderwick books for younger kids. They would have made one good book (maybe 2), but each volume was nothing. Kids liked them, though. Because they want something short? Because they need to see what happens next and like that it’s another whole book?

  2. Sylvie said,

    July 7, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Exactly why I’m not reading the next book after Knife of Never Letting Go.

  3. Bridget said,

    July 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    That is why television is so evil. And addictive. They always leave you hanging at the end of each episode. V. Annoying.
    I love when authors get it right and leave you both satisfied AND wanting more. I think Hunger Games is a good example of a great ending.

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