An ambiguous post title, I know. This question can be applied to a lot of things – can you ever have too many books? To which I would answer, no, obviously not (well, actually…). Or, is there such a thing as too many pairs of fuzzy socks? To which I would also answer, no, of course not! But today, I want to talk about authors continuously adding installments to their fictional worlds, and whether or not there can ever be too much of a good thing.
One of the biggest examples of authors really expanding on their fictional worlds is Cassandra Clare, with first her The Mortal Instruments series, then her The Infernal Devices trilogy, her The Bane Chronicles series, and, most recently, her Dark Artifices series – all set in the Shadowhunter world. Another example of this is Rick Riordan, with his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, then his The Lost Hero series, and now his The Trials of Apollo series, all set in a world with demigods and monsters.
Both of these authors are extremely popular, having created worlds and characters that are extremely well loved – I should know, as I adore Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy and grew up reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. They both have both really utilized this popularity, and have expanded their worlds through multiple stories in multiple series – not just multiple books, but several different series, to really explore their fictional universes.
So my question to you is, with the fictional worlds you love most, could an author ever write too much?
And I’m genuinely really curious to hear what people think! I’ve never really talked about this with others before. In my opinion… there can be too much of a good thing.
I could very well be alone in this, and that’s perfectly fine! But personally, no matter how much I may love a series, and no matter how sad I may be when it comes to an end, I don’t mind there being an end. I don’t mind having wrapped up my favorite characters’ journeys, and I don’t mind saying goodbye. If anything, I would rather have a satisfying end to my favorite stories, and have them stay beautiful and intact in my memory, than have additional series that are either disappointing or bad/problematic, and therefore taint my good memories about the original story.
I really hope that made sense – I’ll give you guys an example. I had to DNF a book for the first time in years in 2016 – and surprisingly enough, it was The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, who has always been one of my all time favorite authors. I had initially been really excited for the additional installment to the Percy Jackson world, but ended up being extremely disappointed. I don’t know what it was about The Hidden Oracle, but I basically came to the conclusion that I had outgrown Rick Riordan – not in a way where Rick Riordan’s content is childish, but more like trying to put on a glove that no longer fit. So it definitely wasn’t bad – I just couldn’t finish it because his characterizations and writing style and storytelling were just no longer for me.
The problem is, this, unfortunately, has made me lose some of my fondness (? not sure if that’s the word for it) for the world of Percy Jackson. I still love it, of course – I doubt anything could change that – but I can’t help but think about the characterization, tropes, and writing style differently, and a bit more critically. Which I really, really don’t enjoy, and feel kind of sad about.
So, for me, I think that an author could add on too many installments to a series/world that I love. This doesn’t mean that I’m against an additional book or two (Maggie Stiefvater pls), or the creation of prequels – just that I’m not a fan of multiple, additional series being made.
Do any of you have a similar experience? What are your thoughts – could an author ever write too much about your favorite fictional world/characters?