Please! No More Series Books

The Indie Girl has been trying to get me to read a new book series she’s gotten into: Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull. This is the same Indie Girl who introduced me to Harry Potter over 10 years ago, and who’s book choices have always been superb. So why I have been hesitant to start the series? I have to say, I’m a little series’d out right now. And, in the end, I’m probably going to give in and read the darned Fablehaven series, because, the Indie Girl is usually right, but here’s a few reasons I’m dragging my feet:

1. Book series books are so overdone. I remember growing up reading one-and-done books like Cricket in Times Square. Simple little, one-dimensional stories that were reflective of the kiddie audience they were written for. Then comes Harry Potter (ok, Potter wasn’t the first in-depth kiddie series, some forget The Dark is Rising series and others). Jo Rowling introduced to the reading world that kid books could actually be good. Now there’s an idea. Deep plots with classic literary themes, the works. So why do I deride book series now? Everyone thinks it’s the format, the multiple books telling the same story, thing. So now instead of one-dimensional, one and done books, we now have one-dimensional one-and-done books spread out into more than one book, just to sell it. Not good.

2. A good story should be concise. I have a friend who is writing a book series. He asked me to review his plot line, characters, etc., and I found them to be quite enigmatic and engaging. When he told me it was going to be a book series, I told him: “Sure, it can be a book series, but why don’t you just write the story as one book?” The thing is, too many authors are thinking multiple books in a story line, when they should be looking at multiple story lines in one book. A good story should be as long as it needs to be. Harry Potter fits the bill, though she could have left out a few subplots. Percy Jackson and the Olympians? ENTIRELY too long. I think we could do without books 2 and 3 frankly. The problem? Book series tend to either have too many unrelated plotlines, making the series just a ploy to make more money, or they’re just one plot line stretched out over too many books. And for all those people who think they’re selling a great idea to publishers, think again. Most publishers don’t want someone who proposes a book series, because for them it doesn’t mean multiple book profits, it means multiple books they have to worry about marketing for.

3. Copy cats are never innovators. Now, don’t misunderstand me. There are a lot of good series books out there, and there will be many to come, but most authors who write a book series now seem to be trying to re-create what Jo Rowling and other authors have done. Peruse the kiddie section of the library and book series books are being done like it’s going out of style. I think it’s time to try something new. Write a story that begins on page one and ends when you close the book. I think the one-and-done book is the NEW book series book. It’s the new black too. And the new novel. Case in point. I love Eoin Colfer books. He’s a fantastic writer. One of my favorite junior lit authors actually. But I could never get into Artemis Fowl. Why? I hated the story. I know, it’s odd. Artemis Fowl is his Harry Potter. In my opinion though, his one-and-done books are much, much better. I particularly love Half Moon Investigations. I found it at a school book sale for like $2. It’s one of my favorite books I think I’ve ever read. So well-written. Such a great story line. And the ending is superb. One of my other favorite books, Airman. Yes, another Colfer one-and-doner. AMAZING story line. He effectively captures the Count of Monte Cristo theme, innovates it, and produces something special. Both books are supremely better than his book series.

All in all, am I condemning book series? No. In fact, I picked up Rick “Percy Jackson” Riordan’s newest book 1, the Red Pyramid (in which he does the same thing he did in Percy Jackson, but with Egyptian Mythology instead of Greek Mythology). The thing is, though, just writing a book series does not make it better than the one-and-done book. In fact, more often than not, we’re seeing it go the other way around.

In the end, I’m probably going to end up reading the Indie Girl’s new favorite: Fablehaven. And you know what, I’m probably going to love it, and the next blog post is probably going to be a gushing review of it, with all the usual pictures, links, pomp, and circumstance. But that’s going to be my last book series. Of course, until Indie Girl finds another good read.

From Novels to Movies: To Be or Not to Be

I have gotten into doing a lot of novel reading…as my commute in the DC area can be quite long. Ok…so it’s not actually novel “reading”…it’s books on CD…but you get the picture.

Throughout my reading (or listening) I have wondered how some books would fair as movies, and at the same time, have wondered why some books have been made into movies. Here’s some miscellaneous ponderings:

The City of Ember: This book has received some good reviews, and honestly, I couldn’t get even halfway through the book. Fairly inane story based on an alternate reality that I just can’t grasp onto. It’s a city that is on the verge of collapse with a mystery behind its beginnings. Sure, sounds nice, but I just couldn’t get beyond one underlying facet of the city: the communication. I could write a whole blog post on this one, but I won’t. Instead of modern conveniences like the Internet, phones, or EVEN snail mail–they use messengers who have to run all over the city to convey messages. Just the idea that an advanced society couldn’t figure out mail turned me off.

The Lightning Thief: Harry Potter meets Mount Olympus. I have been thinking about a whole post on this book, and how after what JK Rowling put together, no other book featuring a young boy who goes on a quest to defeat evil will ever be able to avoid being compared to Harry Potter. But then I found out that it was in production to be a movie. I think the scenes and story are good enough for a movie, but the plot, frankly, is a little predictable and a little overdone. It is unique in it’s own merit, and I look forward to seeing how they pull off the final scene between Percy and a character not to be named, so as to not ruin the story for you.

The Tale of Despereaux: I mistakenly read this book to my kids. It’s not really a kids book honestly. The themes are very adult and anything but child-friendly. Especially the murder plot…oh, and the child abuse. Then I saw the previews for the movie, and I have to say, I don’t see ONE element of the book in the movie. THey must have done a complete overhaul of the story to fit into the movie.

The Dark is Rising (AKA The Seeker): I just finished this book, and at first, I was anxious to see the movie (the 2007 release, the Seeker).  Then I saw the previews, and it looks like they tried to update it to give it a 21st century feel to it. I read the reviews, and others agree, the movie and the book are two separate entities. If you’ve seen the movie, don’t let it ruin the book for you…the book is fantastic.

Now–a few movies I’d like to see:

Airman by Eoin Colfer: The plotline is akin to the Count of Monte Cristo, but it’s fabulous in its own right. The end left a little to be desired, but all in all, this was an amazing book, and I can’t wait until some producer picks up the movie rights for it.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp: I loved the book. Fantastic story. Great plot twists. Excellent character development. I’d love to see John Woo take this movie on.