Leaving the third book of a supposed trilogy on a cliffhanger is one of the most cruel things an author can do. To avoid having to reread in the future, many readers will only pick up a series if all the books are out; there just aren’t a ton of adequate recaps out there. And while an extra sequel can be something exciting to look forward to, it unfortunately comes with added stress for those of us who curate reading lists.
An author releasing an unexpected prequel, novella collection or a new series set in the same world as their past works is a much better alternative. For example, “Midnight Sun” tells “Twilight” from Edward Cullen’s perspective, and “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” offers backstory on the infamous President Snow. With each work acting as a complementary standalone, there are no daunting prerequisites.
Long overdue sequels
While writing a book is no easy feat, authors and publishers should adhere to a reasonable release schedule. “Ninth House” was released in 2019 and author Leigh Bardugo has yet to give readers any inkling of when the second book will hit shelves.
The same problem applies to movies and television shows, too. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” was released in 2018, while the third installment of the series is not due till 2023. “Stranger Things” has also kept viewers waiting for a while now. Although COVID-19 is to blame for production delays, the massive gap of time can be off-putting to some.
Trimmed paperback covers
Paperbacks notoriously have less real estate than hardcovers. To get around that, recent paperbacks have been released with trimmed covers; this way, publishers can fit in a page of raving reviews or bonus artwork behind the cover. These types of covers are a major nuisance because they easily snag on items when you put them in a packed bag or bookshelf. In my experience, they end up mangled more often than not.
This trope of sorts is pretty popular in fantasy, where the protagonist is orphaned after losing their parents to some kind of political upheaval. This backstory can work beautifully in cultivating ideas of grief and vengeance. Yet, it would be nice every now and then to have parents more involved, whether their presence is wanted by characters or not. This applies to all genres, but especially to young adult novels; it’s more realistic for a parental figure to be raising an adolescent than leaving one to completely fend for themselves.
Most people who collect books strive for some sort of cohesiveness on their shelves. A mid-series cover change, like that of “An Ember in the Ashes,” puts a stop to that. Cover reboots are more acceptable when they happen a few years after an entire series is out. The “Divergent” series did a gorgeous reboot for its 10th anniversary, but unfortunately with trimmed covers.
Another element of this is mismatched books due to the different hardcover and paperback release dates. New books are almost always released in hardcover first, with paperback editions coming in about a year later. This means that readers who own the first few books of a series in paperback have to suck it up and purchase the hardcover or wait a while to get matching books. Paperbacks can also be released with different cover designs, further complicating things.