it’s the book’s fault

That is, it’s the fault of the book MARKED that I missed my train stop yesterday morning. I looked up and thought, wait, where am I? So, kudos to the Casts for writing such a compelling book!

MARKED is the first book in a series, which sparked a conversation yesterday with Jen, one of my favorite librarians at my favorite branch library, about the lure of series books. She said that picking up a book in a series you’ve already started is like spending time with old friends, which is a wonderful, comforting thought. I completely agree; a strong series relies on how much you care about the characters involved.

I learn a lot about writing from what I read, and I learn a lot about the current marketplace by reading the new stuff coming out. As a writer, my ideas tend toward stand-alone books rather than series books. But it seems like I’m in the minority, as every YA book I pick up is the first in a series. Some of them suffer those dreaded “first book” maladies: most of the time is spent setting the stage for what will happen in future volumes, and the first book doesn’t provide a satisfying conclusion in itself. This isn’t across the board, by any means – the Harry Potter books each have their own distinct plot-lines and offer big bang endings in every case. And there are other books that contained these flaws, but I enjoyed them so much that I forgave them.

I have nothing against writing a series, I just haven’t hit on the idea that requires a series as opposed to one book (anyone who knows how Catherine Howard’s story ends will understand this, easily). And I think that’s the key: to write a series, the story should require a series in order to be fully told. I can certainly see the merit from a publisher’s viewpoint, but as a reader I don’t want to feel that the story is being stretched to fit the pages.

However, as I am in reading-mode, I’m open to suggestions. If you have any recommendations for stand-alone or series books that I should read, please let me know!

Published in: on June 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Have you gotten around to Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael series (the books, not the t.v. series)?
    They are fantastic!!:-) [Much as I adore Sir Derek Jacobi has an actor, he is entirely too good looking as Brother Cadfael in the t.v. version, though he does get the personality right]
    There’s one writer who seems to be able to thread some of her characters through more than one book, and yet each book can stand alone. I’m referring to Maeve Binchy and some of her books. Heart and Soul is one of them that I can think of off-hand.
    Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy (well, technically, I guess it would be a quartet) also works well as a goup of books that make a series, but can stand by themselves as well.

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