The third book in a series

December 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Traditionally, I have received the impression that in most trilogies the second book is the weakest link. I have certainly read some books where this is a problem. This was one of the reasons why I was nervous about the response to the second book in the Verindon trilogy, The Crown, which is now available.

However, I now have another fear building.

In my journeys through various sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian fandoms, it seems that lately, in the book world, it is the third book that has been the most disappointing. The Hunger Games and Divergent are two examples which immediately spring to mind. Most fans liked the third and final book the least of all three in the series. Some were vitriolic in their opinions of them.

Why is this? I think it’s because the fans have built up in their minds an expectation of what will happen. Until the final installment in a series, there’s always the chance that what they expect will still happen. With the final one, the series ties up, and I think it’s sometimes in a way that they don’t like or didn’t anticipate, at least. Could this be a sign of author failure? Should the final novel in a series be a natural extension of the series that anyone can anticipate if the book is written well? Or is it a sign of genius: the author managed to do something that no one anticipated. I think it depends on the individual author.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. While I think the third and final book in my series takes the characters out in a strong way and is true to my vision for the overall story, will the reader agree with me? Does it matter if they don’t agree with me? Some of us might like to think it doesn’t matter, but I think it does, to me, anyway. I’m sure it definitely matters to my publisher, especially if a weak ending influences sales.

So should I be happy because I have written a trilogy that satisfies my vision for the story, even if it disappoints readers? Or should the readers’ responses be my primary concern? What do you think?




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