13/05/2014

Series Books – How Long Is Too Long? {The Birdie Musings}


Back in the day, it seemed like most standard series – dystopians in particular – were trilogies. But now quadrilogies and duologies are becoming ever more popular it's left me wondering: what, exactly, is the perfect length for a series?

Trilogies often suffer from 'middle book' syndrome; duology endings can seem rushed; and quadrilogies are at risk from dragging on longer than necessary. Let's examine, shall we?

Duologies:

The Program – such an intense start to this series! It definitely did not suffer from setting the scene too much, and gave just the right amount of groundwork before jumping into all the action. I'm so glad this is a duology, because it means this series will stay action-packed and fast-paced and we won't be bogged down with unnecessary plot points that just aren't relevant in the bigger picture.

The Art of Wishing – I adored this book and felt like it was such a strong start to the series. It was perfectly paced and filled with well-rounded and entertaining characters. This was originally planned to be a trilogy, but Lindsay Ribar didn't want to drag the story out unnecessarily, which I think is amazing. I wouldn't want to see such an awesome series overstay its welcome.

Reboot – this had a great concept, but it fell a bit flat for me. Everything was a little underdeveloped and I didn't feel like the characters, or their relationships, really grew. I haven't read book two yet, but the first edition in this duology felt rushed.


Trilogies:

Delirium – if there were ever a series to suffer from 'middle book syndrome', it was Delirium. Book two seemed to only exist to create another dramatic barrier between the two love interests. It had ridiculous plot points, was a pretty disappointing read in general, and I felt as though everything could have easily been condensed into two books . And, please, do not get me started on that ending *shakes head*

Mara Dyer – I definitely feel like this is one of the best trilogies I've read, because it is constantly keeping me on my toes. It never gets boring, there are always exciting new secrets and mysteries in each chapter, and I love how each book gets more intense. I don't think Mara's story would have been done justice in just two books and four may have been pushing it a little, so for Michelle Hodkin three really is the magic number

Shatter Me – this is a tough one, because I really do feel like the third book was 
pointless. It was devoted to love triangle drama, instead of the real nitty-gritty story, and I think this series would have been so much better as a duology. Just cutting out all the couples bickering and indecisive feelings would've have whittled it down to two books!


Quadrilogies:

The Lunar Chronicles – no doubt, this is a story that needed to be told over four books. The world Marissa has created is so vast and detailed, that I really don't think a trilogy would have done it justice. There are so many varied character arcs and stories all interwoven into each other, that a trilogy may have made it seem rushed. And in my opinion, this series gets better with every book.

The Raven Cycle – these books are and shall forever remain my favourites. There's not much I can say here, except that Maggie has the most wonderful characters that I would happily read about for twenty books. Her plot never feels like it's moving too slow; there are a lot of mysteries and immensely complex plots and subplots going on and a trilogy would not have been enough for this story to reach its potential. Basically, Maggie Stiefvater must continue writing this forever.

Twilight – I feel like this is a hard one, because it's essentially four books of a love story, and really there's only so much you can write about one relationship before it becomes mundane. I think Stephanie Meyer milked this, so we got book after book of indecisiveness and relationship drama. Twilight was very much a 'setting the scene' book, New Moon was love triangle city, Eclipse was pretty decent, and then Breaking Dawn was all over-the-place and had too much shoved into one story. I actually think this would've been a great little romantic duology, but instead the supernatural angst was thrown in my face for four books and it felt overdone.


Pentalogies and beyond:


Angelfall –  I'm unsure about this one. Though I really did love the first two books, this is a pentalogy and I'm just not sure why. It's a great story, but I don't know if there's enough material for five books. The plot isn't all that complicated if you think about it, and I  worry this will end up losing steam. I think this would be perfect as a trilogy and all plot points could be nicely wrapped up in three books, so let's just hope Susan Ee knows what she's doing.

Throne of Glass – we're talking six books and eight novellas here! Throne of Glass definitely takes the cake there. I've only read the first two books so far, but this is a series that is only getting better and better. There's a lot that needs to be told and a bunch of different things going on that need to be explained, so I definitely think this is a series where each book will be savoured. Whether or not six books is overkill, is something only time will tell!

Harry Potter –  this series speaks for itself. I don't think anybody could say the books lagged or they got bored of the phenomenal world-building. For me, the issue with Harry Potter wasn't the length of the series, but the length of the final book in the series. That baby dragged on for years and I got pretty bored while reading it, I won't lie. Still, I think HP was great as seven books (they just needed to be seven slightly shorter books!).


Are there some books you just don't want to end and others you wish would get it over with already? Are you getting bored of trilogies, and excited to see more duologies popping up?



 



Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart. Stalk her on twitter, instagram or goodreads.


41 comments:

  1. Great post, I'm agreeing with you on all the ones on your list I've read. Angelfall worries me because honestly book two was the same plot as book one, except no Rafi on the journey (ie lame). Ee's going to have to really come up with something new for the next book or I don't think I'll follow along to the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I really missed Rafi in book two! Have to say though, I loved the little snippets into his past and I felt like the reunion was well worth it :D

      Delete
  2. One of the series that I loved that had five books was the Percy Jackson series. Much like the Harry Potter series, it needed five books to explore the war and such. A series I felt needed to be ended like, six books ago is the House of Night series by PC & Kristen Cast, its ridiculous at this point!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never actually read the Percy Jackson books. I've heard such great things, but the movies were so awful it kind of put me off the story. Which is just an awful thing to say, I know. It's something I've got to get around to reading at some point!

      Delete
  3. To me it depends on now much I love them. If they are really, really good (like Angelfall, or the Gone series was) I want them to continue on as long as possible. But to be honest, I actually prefer standalones to series. And I think Angelfall has enough plot for 3 more books (also, if the 3rd book was the last, the ending would probably be way too hurried, I wouldn't want that)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree about loving standalones. I'm greedy, so I like series books because it means I get more of characters I love, but there's something great about reading the final page of a standalone and knowing that's the end. It's nice to have a simply story that comes full circle and isn't dragged out.

      I hope you're right about Angelfall, because I genuinely did love the first two books. Hopefully Susan Ee pulls some more awesome out of her hat in the next one!

      Delete
  4. I think it depends on how it's written. I mean, what's the point of reading a sequel if the first book is sucky? I don't think I'm planning on reading the next book to Delirium. Some I'll give another chance, like the Caster Chronicles, mainly because I feel that it shows a lot of potential and it was good enough for the 1st or 2nd book. It's there, I just need to find it! :)

    I'd have to agree though. The House of Night series is feeling much too long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Delirium was such a let down I can't even tell you. First book was awesome and then . . . God, I won't spoil it just in case you do read the next ones but, man, *shakes head*

      I think a lot of first books in a series tend to fall flat, because they concentrate too much on scene setting and it just gets boring. A series book needs to grip you so you can become invested in it!

      I've never read the Caster Chronicles before :) I'll look in to it!

      Delete
  5. I didn't realize Throne of Glass had so many books in the series! I am reading The Treatment now, I hope I like it better than my first!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's crazy! I haven't actually read any of the novellas and I don't think I will. I'm kind of an anti-novella gal, but I've heard the ToG ones are pretty awesome.

      Hope you like The Treatment. I haven't had a chance to read that yet, so let me know what you think!

      Delete
  6. Hahah...I'm not a huge fan of series, so I think I have to say that 3-4 books in a series is plenty. :) The Angelfall series is definitely worrysome because, like you noted, I'm not sure how the author's going to expand everything into 5+ books! Thanks for sharing!
    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's just pray Susan Ee has a bunch of secret plots up her sleeve. To be honest, as long as there's more Rafi, I really won't complain ;)

      Delete
  7. I grew up with Harry Potter and loved that series so 7 books was awesome...and I didn't mind the lengths!! I wanted, and would still take, more HP.

    As for other series, I have a difficult time keeping up with them. I think duologies or companion novels are great because I have a better chance of reading them all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duologies are definitely preferable, because then I don't have that 'dreaded' feeling of the fifty books left in the series I still need to read! Lol

      Delete
  8. I love the fact that there are more duologies popping up, because I think middle book syndrome is a thing and the authors just use it to drag it out over a few books. But then I've noticed if the middle book is mediocre, I don't continue with the finale. At least this means that we can wrap it up in two. Awesome discussion Allie!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duologies are becoming my new obsession because it means I get to experience more of the characters I love but that the story isn't dragged out and beaten to death in the process :P

      Delete
  9. This is a good subject. I think i really depends on the world and the questions in a series as to how long it should be. If the world is amazing like HP or Cinder, then by all means, more books, but if it's more confined and doesn't feel any different from one place to another, then fewer is better, and if characters and plot are the main focus, maybe two is better. I'm not too fussed on size usually and I don't tend to think about too much, but you've stirred me up now. Great post Allie! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I think if an author builds a world that's truly amazing, then it can go on for ages and never get tiring. Cinder is such a great example!!! That series has my permission to continue forever.
      There are some books that kind of 'stick to one place' like the Mara Dyer books, that I think are great and, because of all the twists, it doesn't matter that it's so character-driven. Other books with amazing, vast worlds and a variety of characters can sometimes full-flat. It just varies really, doesn't it?

      Haha, glad I got you riled ;) a debate is always good fun!

      Delete
  10. I always worry when series are 5 or 6 books long (or longer!) as very few of them in the past have impressed me all the way through. I tend to lose interest towards the end or feel a couple of the installments are more like filler books. I get what you mean about Angelfall - the storyline isn't that complicated - but I have faith in Susan Ee and think if anyone can make it work it is her. And ha! Yes, Maggie Stiefvater was permission to write as many books as she wants. I'm pretty sure the series could be twenty books long and I'd still love it. If only everyone had her abilities. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree that if anyone can pull it off it'll be Susan. Look at everything she's accomplished; I mean, jeez, she's an AMAZING self-published success story.

      And yep . . . Maggie can write anything, of any length and I will love it. I feel she should make her next book an Ode to Gansey :P

      Delete
  11. I agree that too many trilogies suffer from second book syndrome. Duologies are a really cool idea. I want to see more of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are a bunch coming out now! It seems to be the new 'thing' (which I'm not complaining about!)

      Delete
  12. I had no idea the Throne of Glass series was going to have six books! Wow. I need to start reading xD I agree on the Mara Dyer series! I'm dying to read the last one! and I'm so sad that they keep postponing it. The Program was an amazing book, and its sequel was good, albeit rushed. I still think it should have stayed as a duology.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! It's crazy! There are only tow out so far though (the third is coming out pretty soon, I think) so you don't have too much catching up to do :)

      Yeah, Mara Dyer . . . I don't get what's going on with that. Why is it being postponed so much?!

      Delete
    2. The author said she wanted to publish the absolute perfect ending to the story. She felt like the first manuscript wasn't the best resolution, so she made another one. (There's an official press release somewhere on the internet...)

      Delete
  13. I only recently found out Throne of Glass is going to be that long and it did put me off, but I'm not sure why. Harry Potter is my favourite book series and that's 7 books long. I guess it's because I'm impatient and my memory sucks so I forget things whilst I wait for the next book. Then I end up having to reread past books, which is difficult once there's 5 or 6 of them.

    The Program was a book I loved but then felt like the sequel was really disappointing. That could have done with being one book for me. I applaud authors who realise a story doesn't need to be dragged out and made longer for the sake of making it a trilogy though, it's better than having it suffer from middle book syndrome.

    I am a fan of trilogies but do worry about middle book syndrome. But after seeing some disastrous final books, I'm kind of scared of all series now. There's no guarantee you're going to get an epic final book, like Deathly Hallows. You might just be left disappointed and bored, like with Allegiant. It depends on the story and how well it's written, and whether it ever really needed to be a series or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not too put off by the length of Throne of Glass, simply because I think there's enough story to carry it through. Plus I'm not going to read the novellas, so it's not as daunting then (I really hate novellas, as a rule).

      Eh :( that sucks about The Treatment, because it's one of those I was really excited to read. And I LOVED that it was being dragged out over three books. Oh, man, I'm kind of nervous to pick it up now.

      And YES. I sometimes think disastrous finals are more common than middle-book disasters. I can't name how many times a book finale has left me severely unimpressed (Allegiant is definitely a perfect example of that)

      Delete
  14. "Basically, Maggie Stiefvater must continue writing this forever." Definitely. And I totally agree about Throne of Glass, they do get better and better and there is obviously so much story left to tell. In general it's pretty tough to decide how long a series should be because sometimes I get tired after just book two and never finish the trilogy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a firm believer that when maggie stops writing The Raven Cycle books, the world will end.

      Delete
  15. I'm with you on Twilight. It went too long.
    I enjoyed the last Harry Potter book without getting bored. At least, I think I did. That was years ago!

    The Gemma Doyle series has three books, and it really needed to be four. The last book went on forever and ever. The author herself even said that it needed to be four books, but she started it as a trilogy and hadn't planned the books out in advance, so she couldn't do anything about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was so long ago! Does that make us old? NOPE I WILL NOT GROW UP.

      I've never heard of the Gemma Doyle series before! I'll have to GR stalk it and see what's up. That's solid proof that series books need an outline, because otherwise they just flounder

      Delete
  16. I feel like my main problem with series is that the longer they are, the more time will pass between the first book and the last book. My book memory has gotten so bad that I can't read series anymore unless I marathon them (or, my version of marathoning, which is 1 book of the series per month).

    So that means that, if I want to read a six-book series like Vampire Academy, I have to spend 6 months reading that series! Or, like in the case of some of the newer ones you mentioned, I now have to wait a BAJILLION years for every single book in the series to be released before I can even begin to marathon it.

    Recently I read Throne of Glass and thought it would be perfect since the third book is coming out in a few months...until I realized that it's not a trilogy! Now I've read the first book and the novellas, but have to stop myself because I realize it would be pointless to try and read the series at the rate of one book per year or more because I'll never remember! So basically I'm now going to have to stop reading this series which I really want to continue with...wait like 6 more years...and then start all over again and marathon it! Ugh.

    I do agree that sometimes it's definitely worth it to have a lot of books in a series, but it's so frustrating that they take SO LONG to all come out. I think I'd have a much better time reading series if publishers would start including some kind of recap at the beginning of their books or something. Usually even the "including random information from the last book into this book just to make sure you didn't forget!" thing that authors do still isn't enough for me. I really wish that they'd just cut that crap out and, instead, include a short summary at the beginning of the book, recapping what's gone on in the series so far. That way, people can either skip it if they remember and then don't have to deal with the awkward insertion of random facts thing that always drives readers nuts, or if they don't remember, they can read it and get a much more complete and thorough reintroduction into the series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How do you have the willpower to do that?! I'm such a greedy reader, I have to have everything as soon as it's come out, and read all the trivia and just generally fangirl lol.
      You are CRAZY waiting for all of the ToG to come out before you continue. Crazy, but admirable lol!

      I totally get what you mean though, with needing a recap. I normally just read a couple of reviews on GR (or my own review if I did one) of the previous book to refresh my memory, it usually works a treat. I do love it when authors put those obvious 'drops' in to refresh readers though, because it's just a hilarious technique. It reminds me of when I listen to plays on the radio and they say stuff like 'why are you walking toward me?' so we know one of the characters is walking toward the other ^.^

      Delete
  17. You seriously come up with awesome discussion topics. ;) Hmm...I honestly don't know! I love a standalone the best, I think, because I so often get distracted. There are only a few books I've stuck with...like Michael Grant's 6-book GONE series, or all 13 books of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Phewf. They were all awesome. Also: Rangers' apprentice has about 12 books and while some weren't memorable, none of them ever lagged...so far as I remember. Ohhh, I feel all squishy thinking about Rebel's release, I'm SO excited. XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh, shucks *blushes* you're too kind ;)

      Definitely enjoy a good standalone, a lot more now than I used to, simply because it's nice to actually finish a book and know that it's the end and all the loose ends are tied up. That's NEVER the case with series books, even the last book in a series is always slightly ominous!

      Let me know what you think of Rebel, Cait! You'll probably end up getting to it before me :D

      Delete
  18. The length of a series doesn't usually turn me off as long as it's still interesting and exciting! Like with Harry Potter, I didn't mind at all because each of the seven books were so much fun to read! But with series like Pretty Little Liars, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. The first eight were good but after that, I just feel like it's pointless for me to read on because nothing is being revealed. It's just driving us in circles without making any progress on who A is. The only thing is, is that I would really love to find out what happens without having to finish the series! Whether I like it or not, I always end up growing an attachment to a series in that I HAVE to know what happens even if I don't feel like continuing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PLL is still going? Haha, I swear I thought that ended! Maybe just wait until it finishes (if it ever does), then Wiki all the spoilers so you know what ended up going down :P

      Delete
  19. Angelfall/World After are two of my all time favorite books, but I was also thrown by this series not being a trilogy. I'm curious to see what direction the new books take!

    My favorite series has over 40 books in it, and I love every single one (Terry Pratchett's Discworld). However, this is an exception, to say the least lol. Two other series that are longer, that I adore are Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series (5 books/completed), and Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series (7th book is coming out this summer/will be 10 books in the series).

    Otherwise I prefer singles and trilogies, and I've abandoned quite a few series, after getting bored after the first 2 or 3 books.

    Just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it-now following you through bloglovin :)
    Finley Jayne
    http://finleyjayne.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 40 books? What?! That's INSANE! I've never heard of Discworld but, dude, I'm going to GR stalk that now and see what it's all about.

      Totally agree about Angelfall btw, that was an amazing book. World After I didn't love AS much, but it was still pretty great (just needed more Rafi!).

      I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog and liked it enough to follow :) thanks for being awesome

      Delete
  20. You know I really don't know if there is a sweet spot. I think duologies would be preferrable to trilogies because I don't think I know of even one that didn't suffer the middle book syndrome. The Quads seem to be good - like you I love Lunar Chronicles and Raven Boys so I hope those remain good.

    I just go with it. I'm just glad that no YA book series have gone all nuts and gone past ten books like I frequently see in adult urban fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If The Raven Boys and The Lunar Chronicles go downhill I'll be devastated - they're my favourites!

      I can't imagine sticking through a YA series for ten full novels. I think I'd die of old age before finishing :P

      Delete