You may be surprised to hear that many novels start out as one of the types of ‘Book Series’ I’ve mentioned already this week, only to transform, almost magically into another. There could be many reasons for this, stronger readership, bigger, more larger storyline that needs to be extended over a few books, rather than being fully explored in just the one. And I think you know one of the biggest novel ‘brands’ that fits into this category. Oh yes, I’m looking at you JK Rowling.
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series is huge. In fact, it is bigger than huge, yet if we take a look at the earlier books in the series, Harry Potter and Co actually go through Hogwarts and thwart the enemy by the end of the book. It isn’t until the later books, do we see JK Rowling actually convert the standalone series into a much larger picture. Be honest. Did you ever see how the later storylines developed in the The Philosopher’s Stone or The Chamber of Secrets.
But why did JK Rowling suddenly decide to make things complicated? In my honest opinion, I think it was the only valid way to move the series on. As Harry Potter gets older, so do the reading audience, and they are much more likely to withstand multiple story arcs across numerous books, especially compared to the younger reader who may only be mature enough to deal with a single plot across one book. I also think it is a good example of showing how JK Rowling developed as a writer; her understanding of her audience is probably a learning curve she cherished. Especially when compared to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, where none of the books lead into others. Sure, there may be quick references to past adventures, but Blyton keeps things simple. But that isn’t a negative thing, for Blyton’s books still sell thousands of copies each year, with many being considered ‘classics’.
Another type of ‘Book Series’ worth mentioned that may cross boundaries is the prequel. Well actually, I would rather refer to them as being on the fence between a ‘standalone’ series and ‘One Piece to Make a Whole’ series – (see previous posts). I’m not sure what to make of prequels? I understand their premise, and their direction, I’m just not sure if they are needed. I recently read and reviews Who Could That Be at this Hour? by Lemony Snicket, which is a prequel series of sorts to his bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events, which wasn’t fantastic to say the least.
Yet I can’t help but get excited about the proposition of upcoming prequels by Sharon Sant and Elizabeth Guizzetti. You may remember that I loved Sharon Sant’s young adult dystopian novel, Runners. A prequel series is possibly in the pipeline that will go further into the other characters that make up the gang Elijah joins at the beginning of the book. Elizabeth Guizzetti’s adult SciFi novel, Other Systems also has a prequel in the pipeline beautifully titled, The Lighter Side of the Moon. Other Systems took many brave risks, and paid off thanks to Guizzetti’s clever and intelligent storytelling.
You may remember that I am a huge fan of Philip Pullman. It was his His Dark Materials series that ultimately inspired me to go ahead with my writing ambitions. And in 2003, a small novel was released to accompany the series. Lyra’s Oxford was ultimately a novella to keep fans happy until the next books is finally released. It was a book that had many ‘extra’ reminding readers of memorable happenings and characters from the main series. For example, within the book you can find a postcard from Mary Malone, one of the characters that had a prominent feature in the last book, The Amber Spyglass.
Yet in 2008, another companion novella was released, entitled Once Upon a Time in the North, which is a prequel story to the main series explaining how two of the prominent characters actually met. This book too comes with a series of ‘extras’ including a pull out board game, which is kind of fun. But I have to say, that although I loved the main series, these small campanian novels aren’t brilliant. They are entertaining, yes, but ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things.
What are your thoughts about prequel books? Stay tuned tomorrow, as I have been in touch with a cast of fantastic authors and Book Bloggers, to ask them what some of their most favourite book series are.
Post 1 – What Exactly is a ‘Book Series’
Post 3 – Guest Post by Sharon Sant
Post 5 – What Exactly is a ‘Book Series’ – Crossing Boundaries
Post 6 – Guest List
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