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. Continue reading Display Idea: First in Series
The 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? Continue reading The New Spinoff
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.) Continue reading Three’s a Crowd? The Future of Trilogies in YA Literature