Friday 31 May 2013

Books in a Series - Likes and Dislikes

I’m going to have a  little moan. I very rarely do it but I feel the time has come to say what I think. Lately I’ve felt disappointed with books that are part of a series and there are a few things that I would really like to see changed. I know nothing may come of this, but I’m curious about how many of my readers either agree or disagree with me.
Firstly I want to look at the things I really don’t like about books in a series.
1) No Page Summary
I know publishers don’t want to do this but honestly it would make reading a long series so much easier. Just a page at the front of the book with a synopsis of the story so far. I read a lot of series and I just don’t have the time to reread them in order to remember what has happened previously. When you watch your favourite TV shows, there is always a quick roundup at the beginning to show you what occurred in  the previous episode, so why can’t we have that in books?  It isn’t as though this information isn’t readily available – I only have to head over to Wikipedia to find a summary. Though to be honest, I really don’t want to use Wikipedia, I would much rather find the information readily available in the book I’m about to read. 
2) Info Dumps
The first one leads quite naturally onto my second moan. I really don't like the way further books in the series, try to include all the information from previous plots as it really slows the story down. If we had the page summary, there would be no need to include information from past books in each one, therefore producing a sharper plot.
3) No sequence numbers
Why don’t books in a series ever tell you where they are in the series? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve bought a book thinking it was the  first one only to discover it’s really the fourth. Personally I find it quite frustrating. I ‘d like each book in a series to have a number on the cover or at least inside.  This is probably my OCD side taking over, but I want order!
4) Change of covers half way through a series.
This actually doesn’t bother me so much, but I know it infuriates a lot of people and I can see why. If you have gorgeous matching covers for half the series, the last thing you want is the next book to look completely different. When a publisher changes a cover, it would be lovely if they also continued producing the books with the original cover too, just to please the readers who have followed the series from the beginning.
5)Murder Second Book Syndrome.
We’ve all read at least a couple of these. You know the books I’m talking about. The first book in the series completely blew your mind but the second book paled in comparison. Half the time, it feels like the plot is slow to develop and by the end of the second book you realise the plot hasn’t moved that far ahead. It’s as though the story has been stretched out to make a trilogy when it could easily have been shorter. There are some series that don’t fall into this category, but unfortunately there are quite a few that do.
So those are my gripes about books in a series, but I'm not about to moan and run. I do have a couple of suggestions that I would personally like to see.
Things I would like to see changed in a book  series.
1) More Dualogies.
I really think if more publishers opted for dualogies rather than trilogies we would see the death of the second book syndrome. Dualogies are normally more powerful and engaging with a sharper plot.
2) More companion books.
I love companion books in a series because I can pick and choose which ones I want to read. I don’t have to specifically read them in any order. An example of a series like this would be the Seabreeze books by Abbi Glines, each an individual story but all connected to each other. Each book contains it's own story normally with a brilliant plot; we also get to revisit old friends from previous books too.
So that’s my moan over with, but what do you think of books in a series? Do you have other changes you would like to see? Do you disagree with the points that have wound me up? What is your view on books in a series?


  1. Some great points in this post, Viv. I like the idea of a one-page synopsis for series books. Now, usually in the next book in a series there is a lot of recapping within the story, but with books like Insurgent, where there was no reacapping at all - something like this would really work. I can't even remember the amount of times I had to direct people to Veronica Roth's Divergent recap post on her blog. It would have been better served in the book!

    Also like the idea of numbering books in a series! Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track.

    I guess second book syndrome is a bit like second album syndrome. You have your whole life to write the first and then the second is done under pressure!

    1. I hadn't thought of the second book like that. Though surely if a publisher agrees to a buying a trilogy they should have a clear outline or synopsis of all three books. How do they know it will be worth buying otherwise?

    2. That's true, I guess, but for someone who writes slow (like me) I think deadlines might be a problem and might account for some of the not-so-great second book slumps out there!

  2. Some really good ideas in this, I love the sound of a page summary and I do get really annoyed when you can't easily tell what number a book is in a series! The cover thing I can accept up to a point, but there are some times, like with the Sookie Stackhouse series which literally changed every single book release, where I just get really annoyed. Would also love to see more dualogies!

    Cait x

  3. have to agree… I REALLY want to see the summary you are talking about and I fail to see why there can't be a '1' '2' '3' '4' etc on the book spines of a series too, t would be so much more helpful…

  4. Also the length of time for books to come out, maybe hold off the first book until the second and third have been written. Lately I've found it's been difficult to remember the intricate details of the plot for the final books & I don't have the time to re-read :)


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