I like a good YA book. Obviously. And I love and hate the attention YA gets lately from the general public — love it when people acknowledge that a lot of the most creative and experimental writing and a lot of the most progressive things (more and more LGBT teens who do more than just come out, for example) are in YA; hate it when people think that YA stands for “any book published for a person who can’t vote that isn’t a picturebook” or when they think that all YA is Twilight (and that fiction for adults doesn’t have equivalent books of varying literary quality).
But because of the greater attention given to YA, I feel extra bad about a trend that I think tends to lower the literary quality of so many potentially wonderful books. There are just too many trilogies (or duologies, or quartets) in YA.
Tell me I’m not the only one who finds this frustrating. You’re reading a new book, probably fantasy or science fiction, and for 250 pages, all is well. Then there are 50 pages of gibberish, nonsense, or a bunch of brand new characters and plot twists when what should be happening is the wrapping up of ideas. Or this situation: you come to the end of a book, and it just ends. That’s it. No tying up of loose ends, no delicious cliffhanger, but just a final sentence that makes it look like someone just pressed print at a random page of a much longer manuscript. Or maybe you’ve read what is a really good book, and it ended just fine. It was well written, and you’re happy. There are just a few things that could possibly be looked at again. But a year to eighteen months later, you’ve forgotten everything that happened, and the sequel’s out. And you read so much, you just have no time (or energy, or willingness, or desire) to reread Book One.
It’s not that I’m against all sequels. It’s just that it seems a requirement these days, not a thing you do when a story demands it. This is based on no real research whatsoever, but my guess is that if you write science fiction or fantasy, you can’t sell your book if you’re not willing to divide it into pieces. I’m sure this has to do with the popularity of YA and publishers needing to make money to stay in business, but I feel it really diminishes the quality of the books, which is not helping YA detractors think of it as a worthwhile area of literature to explore.
I want a good book to be a good book. I don’t want overcomplicated plot lines and extraneous characters, and I especially don’t want to have to keep all of those twists and turns in the back of my mind for an entire year just so I can understand what’s going on in the next book. I’m just tired of trilogies. I made a pledge this year not to start any new series unless I was required to for school or committees, and I’m sticking to it. If one looks good, I’ll read it when it’s all done. But honestly, I wish editors would focus on helming good books in the hopes that their authors will be loved for that and be able to write other good books, rather than force them into premature or badly executed series just because people will feel obligated to finish them.
What do you think?
— Hannah GÃ³mez, currently reading and listening to Charles & Emma by Deborah Heiligman