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Tag: Series

Display Idea: First in Series

Don’t get me wrong — color-themed book displays? I love them. They’re eye-catching, easy to make, and easy to refill. But the most successful super-simple display we’ve had outside of those? Book #1 of the series.


My library recently undertook a project to add the spine label “Book #1 of the series” to all of the series openers in our teen and adult fiction. Since the fiction books are shelved by author and then title, an ordered series is usually out of order, and a reader browsing is hard-pressed to figure out where to begin. Many teens bring an intriguing book to the desk to ask where it falls in the series, only to discover that it’s book 3 or 4. The label has made finding the beginning a snap for those who wander the shelves.

The New Spinoff

SisterhoodEverlastingThe announcement of Netflix’s John Stamos-produced “Fuller House,” a spinoff or sequel series to the 1980s/1990s classic family sitcom, is one of many similar such announcements in the TV world these days. “The X-Files” will be back for a few weeks next January, and there are rumors of a second/fifth season of “Arrested Development” arriving to Netflix sometime soon. And let’s not forget the long-awaited “Veronica Mars” movie last year, which was entirely made up of winks and nudges to the series’ patient fans.

The literary world is following suit. In 2011, Francine Pascal dusted off her pen and caught us all up on the happenings in Sweet Valley, California, with a look at the famous blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield ten years after graduation. Published under an adult imprint, Sweet Valley Confidential was a nostalgic gift to the 20-, 30-, and even 40-something original fans of the series. Ann Brashares gifted her now-adult Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2002 Best Books for Young Adults, 2009 Popular Paperbacks) readers with Sisterhood Everlasting in 2011 as well. And Meg Cabot will be following suit with a completion of her Princess Diaries (2001 Best Books for Young Adults, 2001 Quick Picks) series for adults, titled Royal Wedding.

But if all of these are gifts for former teens, what about current and future ones? Brashares presented 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows, about a younger generation of friends facing a summer separation, but it didn’t quite catch on. Is it possible to reignite a successful YA series with a younger version? Does it even make sense to think that a beloved teen character would interest a younger reader who doesn’t know the inside jokes? Or is it better to go adult? Should you just take minor characters and make them major? Does any of it work?

Three’s a Crowd? The Future of Trilogies in YA Literature


The ubiquity of trilogies (particularly if they are dystopian or otherwise fantastical) in young adult literature has been a topic of frequent discussion in the past few years. And for good reason. It seems like just yesterday I read the first in the epic The Hunger Divergent Mortal Legends trilogy. All joking aside, these books have all sold countless copies, sparked film adaptions (or rumored films) and had an incredible amount of crossover appeal. And I want to make it clear that I don’t consider myself immune to the hype surrounding dystopian trilogies, or trilogies in general. I was there opening weekend for Divergent and Catching Fire just like you, and I love those worlds.

But I also suspect that some of us are burnt out. It’s become commonplace to read a YA novel cover to cover with the understanding that all of this will be explained in the second or third installment. I’d argue that while most novels are judged like films for their ability to stand alone as a piece of media, trilogies work more like watching a miniseries. You know there’s more coming later, so it’s okay if you miss something the first time around. I’m not sure why three is the exact magic number, either. I think we can speculate–personally, I think one sequel is often one too few but by the fourth book one starts to wonder if the author gets paid by the word. Or perhaps there’s an inherent literary quality about trilogies that a full series lacks. The Lord of the Rings does tend to have a more erudite quality than, say, the Fear Street Saga. (Which, by the way, I love. You should all re-read the Fear Street Books. Trust me on this.) 

Too Many Trilogies

by flickr user erin_everlasting
by flickr user erin_everlasting
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.

Beginning to End and Back Again

I always remember exactly what was happening around me when I finished any series. I remember where I was and the time I finished; I remember the weather that day; I remember exactly how many times my siblings interrupted my reading. This is odd, because I usually block out anything and everything when I read. The incredible emotional impact that last book has just seems to heighten the senses.

monsters of men chaos walking patrick ness coverFor instance, when Mockingjay came out, after it took me a week to secure my copy because of preorder mess-ups at Barnes & Noble, I was devouring my copy in a deprived frenzy — until I reached the death of a certain character. After that, I remember I had to leave the book for a few hours to comfort myself with chocolate ice cream. When I returned, I curled up on the edge of my bed and sniffled through the end as the evening sun crept into my room.

There was also the Chaos Walking trilogy, which I read last year — I finished that on a Friday after school. That day, I remember that a friend had braided my hair, which I usually kept long and loose. But I spent four hours in bed later, messing up my new hairstyle, tossing and turning and finally sobbing through the last thirty pages. My sister knocked on the door to ask if I was alright. So when I stumbled out of my room around nine that night, my head still swimming with thoughts of the end, I told her I absolutely was not.

Delayed Reaction or Delayed Satisfaction?: When Sequels Emerge Years Later

A new publishing trend over the last couple of years is one that’s been almost under the radar. Or at least, it feels like it’s been under the radar because it hasn’t been talked about much. it’s easy to talk about trends like mermaids or books taking a new spin on Game of Thrones when you’re reading a ton of books every year. But have you noticed recently the number of sequels to books that published five or more years ago making an appearance?

Let’s take a look:

Terry Trueman published Stuck in Neutral in 2000, and the book garnered a Printz Honor in 2001. He published a companion novel to the award-winning book in 2004 titled Cruise Control, but that book was told from the perspective of the brother of main character Shawn. Now, 12 years after Stuck in Neutral, Trueman offers a true companion in Life Happens Next, published by HarperTeen last month. He discussed this book and his motivation with us in an interview last month.

Popular writers debut new series this fall

YA fiction is so series-saturated that I need a scorecard to keep up with what’s coming and going! With that in mind, here’s a heads-up on new series by established authors that will begin this fall. Fans of supernatural and paranormal fiction especially will want to mark their calendars.

Carnival of Souls by Melissa MarrCarnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
The author of the Wicked Lovely series offers this tale of daimons battling to the death for a chance to join a ruling elite, a young witch living in exile in the human world, and their inevitable confrontation. (September 4)


The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth GeorgeThe Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
The author of the Inspector Lynley crime novels takes a stab at YA fiction with the Saratoga Woods paranormal series: a young woman on the run from her criminal stepfather hides out on an island off the coast of Washington State and discovers her physic powers. (September 4)


The Raven Boys by Maggie StiefvaterThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater infuses the “normal” world with magic in book one of The Raven Cycle. Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. Ergo, she stays away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there — known as Raven Boys — can only mean trouble. (September 18)


How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Series

I like it when stories end. I like British television, where six episodes can be a season. I like self-contained graphic novels. I like standalone fantasy. I like being able to look at something as a whole: beginning, middle, and end. I absolutely loved Finnikin of the Rock (a 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten title). It had so many things I like in it: powerful magic with few enough rules to be open to interpretation, a hero to fall in love with, a well-traveled world that leaps off the page, vivid intensity between romantic leads, and it all took place in just one book. And then I found out it was going to have sequels and I felt a lot of things, the first of which was disappointed. Can’t anything be just one book anymore? (Yes, sometimes.) Why does everything have to turn into a series? (Probably for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is marketing, but ultimately I decided more might not be a bad thing.)  Here’s what happened: