Can there ever be too much of a good thing? // Discussion

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?

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Can there ever be too much of a good thing? // Discussion

  1. I’ve actually had this exact same feeling with Rick Riordan, around the time that The House of Hades came out. I’ve heard nothing but great things about his more recent books, especially the Magnus Chase series, but I can’t bring myself to pick them up for the same reasons as you. Some things just need to be given a good ending and let go.

  2. I’ve only just started reading Rick Riordan’s books and I need to re-read Casandra Clare’s again because I’ve only got through the first three so far but I get what you mean about there possibly being too many books added onto a world. There have been series I felt that way about and eventually I gave up on them simply because I wasn’t interested anymore. I’m hoping it doesn’t happen with Rick Riordan or Cassandra Clare because I love the Percy Jackson series so far and I’ve heard great things about the Shadowhunter books but sometimes a satisfying end to a series is better than letting it run on and on with no end in sight.
    Great post Katherine. 🙂

  3. I always liked Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I loved the way he would satirise the world we lived in through the absurdity of the world he’d created. Not every book was fresh, but there was always something there which made them a pleasure to read.

    I also have a soft spot for the James Axler ‘Deathlands’ series of Mad Max inspired books. True pulp, but good fun, anyway. James Axler was many different writers sharing the same universe, so does that count?

    Michael Moorcock also interwove all his characters into a continuous narrative which spanned many different universes. Personally, I don’t think an author can write too much, because there’s always a gem somewhere, even when they’ve flogged the idea to death sometimes.

  4. I definitely agree with you, Katie, that there are definitely times when authors shouldn’t continue expanding their series. And obviously I agree that poorly written and/or very problematic books should be on the Shouldn’t Have Been Published list.

    Personally, I think the ultimate criteria for whether a book (or series) should be added to an existing franchise is whether or not it tells a new and compelling story. If the author is recycling the same character types, the same character arcs, the same plot progression, the same themes (etc.), then the addition(s) will feel stale and unnecessary. But if each new addition tells a fresh and engaging story (and if they’re well-written and not very problematic), then I’ll probably continue to eat them up. (Though not binge-reading. I can’t binge-read a series without getting tired of it!)

    This is the major problem I see with, like, adult paranormal series: because they tend to focus on a single protagonist who’s interacting with the same groups of people in the same place all the time, the books can become redundant/stale very fast. But it definitely happens with series that follow multiple protagonists, too; some writers are just really drawn to certain character arcs, themes, conflicts, and so on.

    I haven’t read Riordan yet, but I’m really hoping that I love his work. Fingers crossed!

  5. Great post!
    For me sometimes I feel like a series could be a book shorter, you can tell when it is being dragged out but Cassandra Clare’s work doesn’t feel like that to me. I fell in love with The Mortal Instruments first, then I read TID and found I loved that even more because of the earlier history of it, now Lady Midnight. I loved Lady Midnight, I always find that each of the books reveal something new about the world, theirs so much going on in each that I think they are more than just an extension of this one world.
    I’m glad that the books feature new characters but also their is mention of my old favourites, it’s a gift being able to see how my once loved characters grew up and how the new generation interact with them 🙂

    I think you have to be very careful with how you execute writing continuously about the same world, it’s a gamble that could fall flat on its face or be an amazing extension! 🙂

  6. I feel like a hypocrite for saying that yes, sometimes there definitely can be too many books added to a series when I am obsessed with Percy Jackson and will read anything Rick Riordan writes haha. I think it all depends on how natural the addition is. If it’s just a recycle of the same thing over and over again, then I think it needs to stop. Like just giving the same characters different names. Sometimes I can’t help but think a lot of is just a money grabber. Again, I’m being a hypocrite though bc I will give Rick Riordan all my money for more Percy Jackson books 😂 Great post, Katherine!!

  7. I agree that authors can sometimes write too much of the worlds they built or characters they made, but not books in general haha. For me, I feel pressured when an author adds another book to a series I liked. I feel pressured to read AND like them, even though I’m quite happy with how things ended in the last book. I felt this with the Harry Potter series (whaaaat) when The Cursed Child and the Fantastic Beasts movie came out. I’ve only read the seven original books (and some stories in Pottermore) and tbh, I am perfectly contented with that. Not that I’m against JK Rowling writing more books, because I am definitely happy for the fans who are constantly craving for more HP. I think once upon a time I was one of those fans, too. But it seems like a very long time since I’ve last reread the HP books, and right now I’m not in the mood for more of Harry’s world. It’s sad, really. Because HP still remains as one of my favorite series of all time. But I just feel like I’m not being a true Potterhead by not reading the other books. 😦

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