Discussion: Neverending Series – Can We Have Too Much Of A Good Thing?

NeverEnding-Series

As you can guess by the title of the post, I want to discuss about successful book series that have countless spin off, sequels, and a plethora of movie deals to boot. This seems particularly prevalent in the YA world, but it also happens a lot of Hollywood blockbusters (*cough Marvel*). As fans, are you happy when your favourite series gets more expansion on the world, or do you wish for a clear ending?

The most obvious example of such a series is The Mortal Instruments – a trilogy that eventually became 6 books long, spawning multiple companion novel, one completed prequel trilogy, and with a new series in the making with Lady Midnight. Not to mention the movie and the current airing TV series. Now, I am not overly familiar with the franchise – my experience is limited to City of Bones and Clockwork Angel – so I can’t make a fair comment on the quality of these additions. However, a glance at Twitter and fellow book blogs tell me that people are excited about Lady Midnight – in fact, I have seen many expressing they felt the series improves with each book.

When there are large, pre-existing worlds populated by well-loved character – it’s little wonder that creators want to return to their sandbox, and for fans to want to have more. There is the giddiness that comes with spotting an Easter egg – familiar names or faces from previous books. There is also the comfortable feeling of returning home, a sensation I once felt every time I read a new Harry Potter book. There are also immense potential to expand on established fantasy world – whereas authors may feel they are taking too much elements from their previous works when they endeavour to create a brand new universe. Readers are also endlessly curious about what will happen to their favourite characters after the last pages are turned. Even Tolkien provided an appendix to let readers know the fate of Frodo and company after The Return Of The King.

This discussion was actually brought about because I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, as mentioned above. In fact, I spent most of the previous two months rereading the series via listening to the audiobook (narrated by the excellent Stephen Fry, I highly recommend it! His voice adds another dimension to the story). As I read on, I find myself increasingly excited yet nervous about the upcoming Cursed Child play and script book. Harry and his friends have been with me ever since I was 10 – Harry Potter was one of the first English books I ever read. I remember scouring the internet for JKR’s interview after finishing Deathly Hallows, desperate for more answers and resolutions: did Neville ever end up with Luna? Are Ron and Hermione happy? How is Harry doing as an Auror – isn’t he tired of fighting? I also had endless daydreams about their children’s adventure.

Finally, my daydream might have a definitive answer – with Albus Severus’s story making its debut in a few months’ time. However, I am nervous because what if it doesn’t meet my expectations? Would I still love Harry, Ron and Hermione now that they’re full grown adults- instead of the teenagers I once loved? Furthermore, the script isn’t even written by JKR, so do I accept it as part of canon? Especially when a movie deal seems inevitable at this stage.

Using Harry Potter as an example, I also wanted to bring up the addition of extra elements and expansion of the universe. JKR has used Pottermore extensively in the past as a gateway to build on the series – much to my glee. However, some of her recent additions – especially about Magic in North America, has been understandably fraught with tension. I understand that authors may have the best of intentions when trying to add elements to their own world – but as fans, are we right when we want to take back the sandbox, especially when elaborations are problematic in nature?

Like the rest of the fans, I will be reading Cursed Child and watching Fantastic Beasts – along with anything else HP related when it gets released. HP is my version of Star Wars or Marvel, I will still consume all that its creator churns out – despite my trepidation about ruined nostalgia. Are there book series or TV/Movie series in general you feel this way towards? What do you prefer – for a world you love to be left in peace in preserved in perfect memory – or for there to be alterations/additions down the line?

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Aentee

Aentee

I'm Aentee, a 20-something lover of books and shiny things. By day, I attempt to prescribe books to all the patients in my optometry clinic. By night, I read books, watch TV, and spend way too much time on twitter.

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  1. says

    I just recently wrote a post about all this. Like I said in the post – the author can do what ever they like, they are the ones writing the book/s, they are the ones invested it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. You can check out the post if you want to.

    Thanks for the post.
    Angel @Angel Reads recently posted…Discussion: Same World AuthorsMy Profile

  2. says

    For me, I think it depends on the book! I’m a huge fan of the Shadowhunter Chronicles, so I’m really glad we get so many books set in that world. I love Cassandra Clare’s style, so I would like to see her write another, completely different YA series, but all the books are pretty different. There is a big difference between TMI and TID – many people criticize them for being too similar, but I don’t think that’s the case at all.

    As for HP, I haven’t read the series, so I can’t really comment on the series expansion. I didn’t enjoy the films (even though I’ve seen them all), but I don’t have strong opinions about the theatre play. I know some will really love the news, so I’m happy for them!

    Great discussion, Aentee – this is so interesting! :D
    Denise | The Bibliolater
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  3. says

    Hi Aentee.
    I think some worlds and storylines lend themselves to additional, ongoing story attributes and some don’t. One such world that comes to mind for me is Terry Pratchett. His Discworld series had thirty or forty entries; maybe more. It was structured to accommodate this. There are lots of different authors that write in the Star Wars universe, at varying places on the timeline. Then again, I like to see a definitive conclusion to a story.
    ~Icky. :-)

  4. says

    I find myself getting tired of getting too much from the same world. I’m not a fan of Cassandra Clare’s work, but i gave the TV show a fair shot and after two episodes I stopped because in my honest opinion, it’s horrendous. But I do love HP and I’m kind of a black sheep because I’m not excited for the Cursed Child. I’m not even planning on reading it because it’s a script and I’m happy with HP the way it is. I’m tired of JKR going back to that world and give us bits and pieces constantly. The latest ones have stirred up quite a bit of controversy even. I want something new! I want new characters and worlds to fall in love with.

    I love a good series, but everything comes to an end eventually. Sometimes you just need to close up one world and introduce people to a new one.
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    • says

      I’m on the fence about reading it, but not because it’s a script. I’m worried because it’s not written by J.K. Rowling and I’m slightly worried it’s going to sound like fanfiction.
      If book series get too many spin offs I get confused as to how I’m supposed to read them and if they’re even going to be as good as the original. I love fantasizing about the different worlds, but that’s the thing- I want to FANTASIZE. Also, I don’t like reading the series that have 10+ books. There are too many books out there and then I say I’ll read the next one and it takes forever to get to. A lot of the time I’ll read the first two or three and then I’ll decide if it’s worth my time.
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  5. says

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few days. I think the release of Lady Midnight may have started this thought process. I enjoyed The Mortal Instruments but I wasn’t blown away by it and I am not an avid follower of the Shadowhunter world and so to me these 6 separate Shadowhunter series seems like a bit too much for me, especially when spoilers from the previous series like The Infernal Devices, a series I’ve yet to read, are woven in to the new releases.
    I understand the author’s desire to expand on the world they’ve created and the readers enthusiasm to learn more about the world. However, I feel like sometimes things are better left as they are. A line needs to be drawn at some point. I think there is a way to keep the excitement but how much can you keep expanding on this world before you exhaust it.
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  6. says

    Great post, Aentee! You perfectly verbalized my thoughts about favorite series – “comfortable feeling of returning home”. And OMG, Harry Potter was one of the first English books I ever read too. I love the audio version of Harry Potter narrated by Stephen Fry, he is sooooo good. I think I’m in minority here but I prefer my favorite series to be left in peace. More often than not additions feel like a way to make more money on fans’ love, rather that literary. After all the author haven’t wrote more books in the first place, so why do it now?
    Ksenia @ Something Delicate recently posted…Audiobook Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayMy Profile

  7. says

    I think there can definitely be too much of something. I lost interest in the Shadowhunter world a few years ago, but if people still love them then I’m glad they still have books to obsess over.

    This is super popular in NA book, everyone and their mother HAS to have a companion novel to the point where it gets ridiculous..but as long as there are fans then I guess yay? I’ll just ignore the books if they don’t interest me :)
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  8. says

    This is a great post Aentee, I know what you mean, sometimes series are so exhausted that I become sick and tired of the characters altogether (this so happened to me with the Sookie Stackhouse series, I can’t even remember which book I gave up on now). But with other books its like a drug for me that I can’t get enough of, I was the biggest Harry Potter fan, and I forgot how big of a fan I was until I visited the studios last year and watched all the movies again over Christmas, so with you I don’t care what Rowling throws our way, I definitely need more! You’ve just reminded me I need to pre-order my copy asap!
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  9. says

    I definitely think you can have too much of a good thing… I never got into the Mortal Instruments series, but if Cassandra Clare released something new, I’d give it a go. So I think authors could reach new readers with a new series.
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  10. says

    I do think series can go on too long. Personally, I am a fan of Cassie Clare. I know there’s some real haters out there about how she keeps “writing the same thing” – because they’re all set in the same world. I think it’s so clever of her to have created such a complex world that it can be explored so vastly. And her prequel series (TID) was a thousand times better than TMI anyway so maybe Lady Midnight will be even better than that? I haven’t read it yet.

    But on the other note, I will not be reading The Cursed Child. I am a die-hard HP fan. Have been all my life. There’s no ifs or buts about it. Yet I will not be reading it. It isn’t JK, it isn’t even a book, it’s meant to be seen on stage, and I don’t want to see HP: Next Gen (which is a massive, massive fandom I’m a part of on Tumblr) get ruined. We have HP closure. We’re getting a new movie (which I’m thrilled about). Enough is enough. I hate to see HP getting so many spin-offs. It’s ruining the series IMO.

    Oh, and also Patterson’s Alex Cross series? I have only read the first two books but that has like 25+ books in the series… following a detective – that seems so excessive. And PPL was 16 books. I’m not a fan of massive series like that. I think you have to know when enough is enough.
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  11. says

    THIS. I feel that, at some point or another, the author is going to realize they have to stop. If they’re extending a trilogy into eight books, eventually a). everything is going to end up feeling repetitive or b). the author is going to run out of ideas. I feel the author should stop the story when it needs to be stopped. If there’s no more to the story, then there’s no reason to write any more. Thanks for sharing Aentee and, as always, fabulous post! ♥
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  12. says

    LOVED this discussion girl! Really got me thinking haha, and I just realized how big of a hypocrite oooops. LOL at least I’m not in denial of it.

    So when it comes to TMI I have definitely given that world the sideye. I have read TMI and The infernal Devices, liking the latter far more. However when the guides and companion novels came out in full force plus the announcement of a new series….ehhh. Whatever, I wouldn’t read them anyways….that isn’t what got me off of the shadowhunters train. What got to me was the added novels in the original series and the terrible movie and TV show. LOL. Idk when more books were added to TMI it felt like such a cash grab because THE THIRD BOOK HAD A SOLID CONCLUSION. So yeah, that is what got me upset. And now I just have no interest in Lady Midnight.

    BUT HARRY POTTER!? Omg. This is where I become the hypocrite cause jesus. I’m in love with Harry Potter and everything and anything to do with the world. Loved the movies, love the book series obvs, read the guides (fantastic beasts and whatnot), went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and read everything on Pottermore. Basically I’m addicted and fully in love. Like you know I’m a little apprehensive about Albus Severus’s story because it isn’t by J.K. Rowling. Will it ruin everything else?? Nahhh. Honestly I think I’ll ignore it if it’s that bad LOL

    However what makes me okay with the Potter world expanding, while I’m usually annoyed by the expansion of series’ is:
    a) I’m truly in the fandom forever okay
    and most importantly
    b) I feel there is a story to be told. This is the important part. Harry Potter to me ended in a non conclusive way to me, like there’s still room for a story for the future generations as well as some sort of prequel. That is what bothered me so much in TMI as I found the original trilogy was supposed to end at book 3. I could justify a prequel but nothing much else.

    SO YES.
    Sometimes I feel there’s potential for the exploration of familiar worlds but it mustn’t be done if there isn’t room to do so.

    Hopefully this comment made sense. I’m kinda tipsy right now omfg what even.
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  13. says

    There’s something beautiful in the finality of a story especially preserving that memory and making it perfect in every way. But I think updating books and offering easter eggs and spin-offs later down the track are also exciting as well, because it reinvigorates that love for the series. And especially when it gets hyped up and brings new fans to the series as well! I think it can only be a good thing, offering more content for your loyal fan base.
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  14. says

    I’m torn really. The Syrena Legacy series by Anna Banks was supposed to be a duology, and I loved it. Then came the 3rd book and I didn’t like that book, which make the series kind of ruined for me. Which is why I’m really nervous about the Cursed Child, because I know if I don’t like it, the hp series in general won’t be the same for me. Especially when the book isn’t written by JKR herself. But if she writes a book about the Marauders, I would buy it for sure. So I think it depends. There are some series that I couldn’t get enough of, and would see more of the world (HP), while there are some series that I know when to stop (I haven’t read The Heir by Kierra Cass, and I won’t read it). I guess it just depends on our favorites ❤
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  15. says

    I personally love Cassandra Clare and I think it’s great that she can write so much in one world! I think her stories are a little different to what JK Rowling is doing…because Cassandra Clare’s stories DO end. Although, like you said, we get tidbits and extras in the different series about old beloved characters. *nods* But, I mean, you could read TMI or TMI and be finished with it, if you wanted. Whereas I don’t know who would read all the short stories in Pottermore or the Cursed Child play if they hadn’t read the original Harry Potters? If that makes sense?
    (And I didn’t realise JK Rowling wasn’t writing the Cursed Child script. :O THAT FEELS REALLY WRONG SOMEHOW.)
    I think it’s great that authors can do this though. I mean, no one says “Omg why is Sarah Dessen writing ANOTHER contemporary in our world?” and I think it’s unfair that contemporary and fantasy authors have those different standards to live up to. xD But that’s just me, probably, because I’m a rabid fantasy lover. :P
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  16. says

    I think it’s kind of a two part answer for me. On one hand, if the authors/creators are wanting to keep going, and fans are buying, then by all means, have at it! It’s probably really hard for an author (I am just going to use author here in lieu of all creative types) to leave a world that they’ve basically fallen in love with- and if they have more stories to tell, I don’t see why they shouldn’t tell them!

    But as a consumer of the story? (And I don’t just mean “purchaser”- I mean, literally, a person consuming the story) I don’t know if it’s always the best thing. Oddly, as much as I am NOT a fan of Shadowhunters, I think that it works in this case. Because the story never really *started* with Clary, nor did it end with her. So Cassandra Clare kind of did herself a favor in that sense.

    When we talk Harry though… I don’t think the same thing applies. I am also not a HP fan, so I hope I am referencing everything properly here, but in the book that I read, and in the bajillions of fan-related things I have seen and read and heard about… the story IS Harry and the other characters. Would it be as compelling with like, little Mikey Magician? No. And that would definitely disappoint fans. Plus, the build up around the franchise is so huge- could anything else REALLY compare at this point? Can a new story trump the ones you’ve been loving for more than a decade?

    It’s why I am torn with the potential for more Hunger Games stuff. On one hand, yes please, NEVER END. But how would I really feel? The magic was in Katniss and her story, and the story of the revolution, and the Mockingjay. I would love to read more about prior Games, yes, but would they ever be able to move me as much as Katniss’s story did? Unlikely.

    So bottom line: Yeah, there CAN be too much of a good thing- especially when the good thing in question has already had a logical and pleasing end point. The chance of an author having a Harry Potter-Esque success? Almost none. The chance of having TWO of them? I really can’t see that ever happening. But I hope I am proven wrong ;)

    Fabulous post!!
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  17. says

    I feel very conflicted about this!! On one hand, JKR was very adamant that she wasn’t going to write anymore HP… and now here comes this Curse Child stuff and it’s not ever HER?? It’s such a beloved series, that even though I really really want more, I don’t want anything to come along and tarnish the gloriousness that is HP. Then there are some authors (like Sara Shepard) who keep writing book after book. Even when they promised the series would end at a certain book number, they go over. I definitely get bored with series like that. Also, I like superhero’s and the whole Marvel world…. but how many movies and TV shows can we have?? I’d rather just have 1 or 2 AMAZING ones. Like some of the X-Men movies I loved… but then it went off into so many tangents.

  18. says

    Wow, that is a really hard choice! I mean, the only series I know that applies to this discussion is the Shadowhunter Chronicles, and I admit I’ve delved into it only last December. However, I can’t lie about the fact that I don’t really mind that it has a lot of companion books. It’s kind of fun to connect the prequels and the sequels together (especially since I read TID before TMI first) and read about new and old characters getting to know each other. Plus, the different series aren’t really similar in my opinion, so I’m all right with it.

    And about Harry Potter, I’ve never actually read the books before and I’ve only watched the movie franchise, but I have to say, I really liked it! I might try reading Cursed Child sometime, though I’m not completely sure yet, however I will definitely watch Fantastic Beasts once it’s cinemas. :)

    Really great discussion, Aentee!
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  19. says

    I’m very excited for Cursed Child. I’ve been reading (and rereading) Harry Potter since I was a kid, but I’m starting to think that I’m not as invested in it as other people. A lot of people get upset about JK Rowling adding to the story, but her additions haven’t changed my love of the original series at all. It’s easy for me to look at her additions, say “Oh, that’s interesting,” and move on. I don’t think about her additions when I’m rereading the books. I can understand why people are annoyed, though, especially with the magic in North America stuff.
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  20. says

    There was another post I just read about someone who finished a few series and duologies and she shared her thoughts on them, not really reviews per se, but what she learned from each one in regards to her feelings about series. In one, she learned that some duologies should just be a standalone, and in another, she realized that she can stick with a series despite the hype. I think that really relates to this post because they have, essentially, the same thoughts.

    Personally, I don’t like Cassandra Clare books (I know, gasp!) and kind of sucks not being on the hype train. This is going to sound rude but I feel like those companion series are kind of… *rolls eyes* if you know what I mean; that the world just keeps getting dragged on. However, it’s ironic that I say that when, like you, I’m going to read and watch everything Harry Potter related. I know that some people are condemning J.K. Rowling for “dragging the franchise” but us fans enjoy it, so I can see how fans of Cass Clare can enjoy her books. Despite my excitement for all the Harry Potter stuff, I am tentative and a bit scared because, well, there is so much room for disappointment and it’s so much easier to disappoint than make proud. And that’s my biggest fear as a Harry Potter fan: that one day I’ll have to defend a movie or companion novel that truly is bad. Do I stick up for the series that stayed with me since ten or do I say, well, that was a pretty crappy movie/book? I think we’d all like to do the primary.
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  21. says

    I absolutely think that some series need to die a certain death, if only to preserve the integrity of the series and the greatness of it! Will I read the Cursed Child? Yes but I don’t think it’s necessary

    Two of my favorite series are The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater and The Others series by Anne Bishop, both of which I feel are ending too soon at 4 and 5 books, respectively. And yet, I appreciate this because I know the integrity of those series will be preserved and unparalleled.

    Great post!!

  22. says

    I definitely think I personally can have too much of a series. :p I’ve stopped reading Tamora Pierce so much, for instance. But that’s not just because I’m over Tortall. It’s because ALL her characters are related. If she wrote about Tortall 300 years in the future and no one was related to Alanna or Kel, I actually think I might be interested. But, of course, lots of fans still want more of what she’s writing and that’s probably what matters. If people stopped buying, then authors would know it was time to move on.

  23. says

    This is such a hard question, because with the case of Harry Potter the ending had been so resolute (perhaps not in the sense that we still had questions, but that no, we would not be receiving any more information about this world) and so finding more buzz about it – about new stuff – instead of the usual buzz about the old stuff seems tiring.
    However when authors are constantly dishing out books about the world they’ve created you just can’t get enough.
    But then again, I think this depends on which ‘world’ you’re talking about. Some worlds deserve as many books you can give ’em, others…perhaps they used to but now although welcome, are not necessary.
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  24. says

    Leigh Bardugo actually talked about this from an author’s perspective after writing Six of Crows and it really stuck with me. She talked about how some authors who stay in the same world constantly want to one up it by expanding an expanding. Harry Potter, like you said, is a WORLD. And even though she had lots of controversy, I’m bringing it back to the LB thing where I just think JK wants to expand and expand. Obviously, it didn’t quite go her way but I respect her for doing that and for adding North America in the mix.

    For Cassandra Clare… I’m actually trying to not read any more shadowhunter books. I’m not a huge fan in the first place so I loved TID but TMI less. But this author has a LOT of fans and they love her stuff so she’s happy writing about what she loves/they’re happy about reading what they love. Everyone is happy (:

  25. says

    I just mentioned something like this in a comment on another blog. I tend to get bad series burn-out when a series doesn’t feel like it’s holding together enough to justify so many books. There are some series that are just … well, literally never-ending. If your book count in your series is up in the teens, I generally think it’s gone too far, though there are (as always) a few exceptions.
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  26. says

    I don’t mind that there are small spin-off series, but I just really wouldn’t mind if the author did something new? Like I understand people have to make money or whatever, but I feel like with JK Rowling and Cassandra Clare, it seems like they don’t need any more money?

    Anyways that’s just my opinion. If they do really really want to write more about this universe, then that’s fine too! Honestly I don’t really care because I’m not fully invested in either world. I’ll just stick to the original Harry Potter books :)
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