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!