As a self-proclaimed book aficionado I have read many books and book series over the years. The recent trend that I have noticed, however, is that fiction writers continue to write new installations, book spin-offs, and new series centered in the same world as their best selling novels. I feel that it’s partly due to the empire that fellow Young Adult writer, J. K. Rowling built up on the success of her universally beloved “Harry Potter” series. She published “Tales of Beedle the Bard,” “Quidditch Through the Ages,” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” while also releasing a short prequel to Harry Potter with Sirius Black and James Potter as the main characters and putting up short stories on the interactive website Pottermore.
Looking towards Rowling’s impressive success with the Harry Potter franchise, other Young Adult authors are being inspired to write more and more short stories and new installations for their already successful preexisting book series. Part of the reason why authors are able to milk out their new short stories and sell them to their established fan-base is due to the advancement of selling books and eBooks online. This makes selling smoother for authors, and makes buying and reading instantaneous for readers.
For instance, Cassandra Clare, the best-selling author of “The Mortal Instruments” series has continued to build up her book empire set in the Shadowhunter world of TMI. She’s published a highly successful prequel to TMI, “The Infernal Devices,” and also published spin-off books like “The Bane Chronicles” and “Tales from Shadowhunter Academy.” Her spin-off books are composed of short stories which are first published in chapter installations monthly, as eBooks, and then published later as full novels in eBook and print form. Additionally, Cassandra Clare has already announced that she will be publishing three more series set in the Shadowhunter World: “The Dark Artifices,” “The Last Hours,” and “The Wicked Powers.” Clare, like Rowling, understands that her best-selling series created a world that is a money-making tree and is taking full advantage of her solid fan-base and dedicated readers to continue to buy her works set in the same world instead of creating a new series that may or may not work which is less sure of success.
“My best friend introduced me to [The] Mortal Instruments when I was in middle school and I enjoyed reading the trilogy,” junior Claire Avanzado said. “However, then, I found out that she wrote a prequel to the series set in Victorian England so I decided to read that as well. I enjoyed reading [The] Infernal Devices immensely and ended up liking it better. But while I was still in the middle of [The] Infernal Devices, she announced that she would be adding three more books to TMI and was additionally going to publish spin-offs and new stories set in the same world. After a while, it got tiresome, although I loved the world she created. I want to read every book that she will create about Shadowhunters but I feel like by the time she’s done putting out a new book in the Shadowhunter world every year, I will be in my late twenties. This requires a lot of dedication from her fans and also makes it difficult for new fans to start reading her books because there are so many of them. I feel like in the long run, she’ll lose more and more fans with every new book than she gains any new ones.”
However, Clare is not the only author guilty of playing with her fans’ emotions, James Patterson, author of the best-selling “Maximum Ride” series, has done it too. January 2012: Patterson’s eighth installation for “Maximum Ride” came out, entitled Nevermore. Months before its release to the public, “Nevermore” was promoted and advertised as the last book to the series and the end of “Maximum Ride,” it’s name suggests an end to the series. On the Amazon webpage for the book the book is still listed as, “Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure.” The fans cheered for the conclusion of Maximum Ride and wished for an ending that would do the series justice. After it was published some of the fans were content: on Goodreads, reviewer Kae wrote “YES! THE END! I thought I would NEVER hear it! Thank you, Mr. Patterson, that you FINALLY PUT THIS SERIES OUT OF ITS MISERY. “
Flash forward to 2015 when I found out that another “Maximum Ride” book was being released: “Maximum Ride Forever.” It was first slated to be published on Jan. 19, 2015, but then got pushed back to May 4 and now to May 18. It is being advertised as the final book to the series. Sounds familiar does it not? The readers of the series are just as wary.
“I used to be really into ‘Maximum Ride’ in high school but I felt like it was a dying series with each book getting worse and worse,” twenty-year-old Los Angeles native Erin Chang said. “In ‘Fang,’ I think, a new character [Dylan] was introduced that was also a bird-child. I felt like it was a bit too late in the game to bring in a new important character. To make matters worse, Nevermore was written out like a very badly done fan-fiction by a crazy fan-girl who shipped Max and Fang together (sorry Mr. Patterson).
Both Max’s and Fang’s love interests were both eliminated, with one getting killed off in the very first chapter and the other going insane by the last book. I feel like it was a very poor attempt… to give his readers what they wanted: Max and Fang’s happily ever after. I feel betrayed that a new book is coming out after Nevermore. I’m not going to be reading it and I doubt if it actually is the last in the series because… well we all know what happened last time.”
Additionally, other authors are picking up the pen to write new novels to tack onto established book series that have had been concluded for a decade or more. Anne Rice, who wrote the “Interview with the Vampire,” which was later turned into a movie staring Kirsten Dunst, Tom Cruise, and Brad Pitt, wrote the formerly last book to The Vampire Chronicles in 2003 which was Blood Canticle and was meant to conclude the vampire saga. However, in 2014, a new book entitled “Prince Lestat” was published. But she is not the only one kicking up dust.
In ninth grade one day after school, I was wondering around in the Joseph F. Compese Memorial Library, the Granada Hills Charter High School school library, and I stumbled across V.C. Andrews’ book “Flowers in the Attic.” I finished reading it in one sitting and checked out the rest of the books in the series which had similarly captivated readers in the 1980s and beyond with its Gothic theme and disturbing undertones. In 2014, Lifetime decided to premiere television movie adaptions of each book this is probably what sparked the idea for a continuation of the series, only this time set in the point of view of the oldest Dollanganger child, Chris.
There are many reasons why the three publications of books in Chris’s point of view will bother me. The first reason is because Andrews is dead. She died before the prequel “Garden of Shadows” was published, which later had to be completed by ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman. The prequel did not bother me because it is unclear whether or not Andrews wrote part of it or if Neiderman wrote the entire novel. However, great writer though he may be, Neiderman did not come up with the original characters of “Flowers in the Attic” and nor did he write about them in the prequel. The story was entirely Andrews’, who is now dead, and the characters are entirely Andrews’. For Neiderman to rework the story and write things in the point of view of Chris is a bit unsettling for me because I do not know if that’s the way the story was supposed to occur or events were meant to be interpreted. However, if readers are disappointed that the Dollanganger series had ended and just want to read more stories about Foxworth or Cathy, Chris, Carrie, and Cory (who is alive) then Neiderman has done a great job writing the book. It is uncertain if this is what Andrews’ wanted; however, the two recently published novels are well written.
All these great writers continue to fall back on the success of their best-sellers and churn out more books set in the same world in hopes of continuing to have a large audience that will buy their books, keeping the sales up. However, these writers are not writing out their best works as their stories become tired and stretched out with each new addition. Clare, Patterson, and Rice all need to, again, find the stroke of genius that made them international bestsellers to begin with. They need to turn the page on this chapter of their writing careers and pick up the pen to write a new one.