Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Three Book Curse


          This week’s blog may seem a little bit far-fetched but I need you to hear me out. I’ve made a discovery that I believe may prove the existence of dark voodoo magic in the book world. Maybe. It’s just a theory, and feel free to yell at me down in the comments section but it would be morally wrong not to let you in on such a major scientific revelation.
       So here it is: I believe that the third book in every dystopian series is cursed. I really do think that there is some kind of mystical nonsense going on here because no matter how untouchable an author may seem, as soon as they release that long-anticipated third and final novel, the entire series seems to just crumble into the dirt.
         Okay, so maybe that’s a little harsh. But seriously, I haven’t in a very long time read the third book in a trilogy and thought: ‘Yes, that was brilliant. That met all of my expectations and more!’ Every time I get my eager trembling hands on that final book the same thing happens: I buy it, so ridiculously enthusiastic to embark on what I am sure will be the most glorious, eye-opening, heart-stopping adventure I have ever been on and by the time I’m finished all I can think is… Meh.

          But, this wouldn’t be science without a little evidence now would it? Well, sadly I can provide you with quite a lot. The best example I have of this would be Suzanne Collins’ ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay . The series had so much promise. Everyone was talking about it! When the second book came out the whole world was setting itself alight with ‘Catching Fire’ excitement. Walk into any high-school during the hunger games craze and I can guarantee you would see at least five three-finger salutes, seven Katniss braids and two furious battles over who was best: Finnick, Gale or Peeta? But sadly, after everyone had finally blazed their way through the third and final book there was an overwhelming sense of disappointment.
          The book wasn’t bad by any means but, let’s face it, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t the shining golden trophy of a book that everyone had been waiting for, more a 3rd place bronze medal. Bronze is okay, it’s still winning, but it isn’t exactly… desirable. At first everyone was shell-shocked. How could this possibly be? We began to grieve. Pretending it hadn’t happened. Denying with all our might that the book might be anything less than wonderful, amazing, golden. But, now that some time has passed, I think we can accept it – it really wasn’t very good.

         Why though? Why wasn’t it very good? Lauren Oliver’s ‘Requiem’, Veronica Roth’s ‘Allegiant’, Scott Westerfield’s ‘Specials’, Malorie Blackman’s ‘Checkmate’,  Ally Condie’s ‘Reached’   The list goes on. How is it that so many promising series’ could plunge so horrifically into mediocrity?
          Maybe there is too much pressure on the writer to finish well? Once you’ve written two of the most astounding books you’ve ever written it must be very difficult to muster the same incredible amount of writing-brilliance from inside to do it for a third and final time. How in the world do you come up with an ending that will do the series any justice? Everyone’s watching and waiting for you to write a book so good that it could compete with the bible in greatness. How the hell do you do it? You don’t. Maybe it’s impossible.

           But as I professor in the science of reading I have done my research and I know that this just doesn’t prove true. No, the blame for this book-based tragedy should not be placed on the writer but, in fact, on us, the reader. It is our fault. We just get too darn excited!

          We can’t help ourselves, especially with the dystopian genre! It’s new and modern with juicy plotlines and gorgeous love-interests. When books are this good, how can we help ourselves? Besides, it’s fun to get all hyped up! Dystopian fiction seems to be able to create a buzz like no other genre. Entire communities are formed in appreciation for the series’, stocked with enough fanart to put London’s National Gallery to shame.
         But we get so carried away with all our excitement that we accidentally give the series impossible, unreachable expectations. Two great books is enough to pull down the galaxy and put stars in our eyes. If the first and second books were that good then the third book has to be even better! The third book will be the book to end all books! Right?

        Wrong. It’s our greatest downfall. We fall in love with a series so deeply and passionately that we inadvertently destroy anything that could possibly come next. We crown writers as royalty when really all they are is just a few normal chaps and chapettes who quite like writing stories.

           We are the voodoo doctors who inflicted such a terrible, terrible curse. And we are the only ones who can fix things. We have to stop ruining things for ourselves. I’m not saying don’t get so excited, I’m just saying, put it in perspective.  Realise that what you want may not be the same as what the writer imagines and try and accept that. And if it really is awful that doesn’t have to be the end - Re-write for yourself! Fanficiton is the ultimate way to both get excited over a series and get exactly what you want out of it! It’s fun too!

          And with that, I close my scientific case. The research has been done, the experiment carried out and the evaluation written. It’s time to take my lab-coat off and put up my feet. But next time you start a new dystopian series be careful. Only you can save us from the terrible, frightening, Three Book Curse.



  1. I haven't actually read many dystopias but I have heard a lot about the third books in YA dystopian trilogies being terrible. However, I think some people classify the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness as dystopian (I'm not too sure about it to be honest) and the third and final book in that series is amazing, so they're not all bad. Thankfully, this phenomenon isn't really present outside dystopia, so that's good for me.

    I usually find that it's the second book in a trilogy that's the worst. Quite often middle books just exist so the characters can just get where they need to be for the third book, which really irritates me. A great example of this is a book called Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist. It's the second book in a really popular fantasy trilogy from the late eighties I think and basically the plot in Silverthorn is totally pointless. The characters go on this irrelevant adventure and, lo and behold, they encounter an evil prophet guy who just so happens to be the villain in the third book! What a coincidence. From now on whenever an author has characters do random things just so they can get to where they need to be later on I call it being Silverthorned.

    Anyway, your post was really interesting because, even though I'm not very well acquainted with YA dystopians I have heard that the third book in dystopian trilogies, for whatever reason, is quite often very bad.


    1. Oh wow! Killian! Thank you for taking the time to write such an EPIC comments :D This excited me to infinity and beyond!! I sadly (or maybe in the curse's case thankfully) have not read chaos walking trilogy! I don't know if it's dystopian, but if anything it's not really part of this new poppy, maybe a tad generic, brand of dystopian. You know, issue with society, love, revolution BAM three book deal!

      I understand that! The middle book is kind of an A to B book, and as a result, it's okay. Does not necessarily please or disappoint. But the third book in my eyes is always the worst because there's just so many let downs! It's never going to please me the exact way I want :( The first book is the epic intro! The first leap into a new world, it has to excite to captivate!! The second book, everything has settled, and the writer gets ready to jump again! But then the third book? *crashing noises* Bleh.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave this lovely little comment!! I think you and I are becoming fast friends!! :D x

  2. I agree! A ton of YA books I've read coincidentally decline at the third book. I haven't read the Uglies series yet, so I can't judge on that, but I have noticed that dystopian third just drops in a lot of trilogies/series I've read. I actually wrote a broader post on this about series overall on the downhill, and I think the point you put forward is meaningful.

    Like you, I relatively enjoyed Matched, however by the time I got to Reached things slowed. I got bored. The same rush and excitement I felt when starting the series was absent. And I think the same applies to many other books, too. I while back I read the Witch and Wizard series by James Patterson. At the first book, I liked the premise, but by the third book I started to lose interest. Now a fifth book is being introduced, and I have no idea what to think about it since the fourth was terrible and all the main antagonists are dead.

    I love dystopian, but sometimes it seems to just... fail to satisfy, I guess. Thanks for sharing, Evie, I loved learning your research on the Three Book Curse:D

    Claire @ Cover to Cover

    1. Hey Claire!!
      If you're going to read uglies, take my advice, read the first two in the series and STOP! Specials hurt to try and read and I really don't want you to have to experience the loss of a great series crashing and burning :c (tad of an over reaction on my part maybe, BUT STILL!) But it's good you agree with me!! I'm not talking nonsense then :3

      Matched was so promising. But then it fell into that old dystopian nuance of revolution, and if there's anything that bores me the most, it's revolution! So many good ideas that just fall down and it makes me sad, because by the third book I'm so attached to the author and characters and just AGHDDJDKG! *pulls hair out*

      Thank's for having a read and leaving feedback!! Comments thrill me :D Will be sure to hop on over to your blog the next spare second I get!

  3. I totally agree! You can easily add 'The Death Cure' (The Maze Runner series) to the list!

    1. *takes out notepad* I think I'm running out of paper ^_^

  4. Yeeeah... Some of the trilogies seemed to be pretty doomed when the third book comes out. Requiem was one that I wanted to throw across the room. I guess it left it open for interpretation, but ugh. I actually met Lauren Oliver and when I told her I wanted to throw Requiem at her, she just laughed and said, "You and everyone else." So, yeah. XD She was awesome, though. And she even drew me a (badly drawn) tiger as a signature for Panic.

    There are a few gems out there, though. Have you read the Grisha series? I personally think the last book was awesome, but I guess that would depend on whom you "ship." But it's a trilogy worth reading if you seem to believe in this curse.

    Great post, though! Loved reading it. =)

    Brittany @ http://www.spacebetweenthespines.com/

    1. Requiem can just fall down a shredder! Holy moly! overreaction? Maybe. But STILL!! Although, saying that, I do think Lauren Oliver is a real class act! A totally fab person. Have you read before I fall? I really loved that one! I cried cried cried ally evening!! I'm so jealous you met her. I have to keep restraining myself from tweeting her a declaration of love!

      Never heard of Grisha... TELL ME ABOUT IT!! You've peaked my curiosity now :D I want a full plot synopsis! But to be honest, I'm predictable, I generally ship whoever the author most obviously wants me to ship >.<

      Thanks for dropping by Brittany! You really are fab!! :D x

  5. I love how your personality shows through in your posts. Your such a funny girl Evie! But I definitely have to agree! Allegiant wasn't horrible by far, but it did leave me a bit . . . unsatisfied. I remember saying out loud " That was it? ", " What the hell happens next? " I've been avoiding dystopian novels ever since I read the Divergent Trilogy, mainly because it gets so repetitive for me, but I'm picking some up in March, soooo fingers crossed no " Dark Voodoo Magic " will be cursing my books lmao

    Oh and get your butt on twitter so we can chat!

    1. Ah Tika! You know how to make me smile :D 'That was it' is possibly the best sum up of Allegiant I have ever heard!! That is so ridiculously appropriate. Or even just 'oh.' would do! Such an anti-climax!! I've been avoiding them for a while.. I'm just a bit sick of that whole hype, but knowing me, I'll probably fall right back in in a few weeks time!
      Will tweet you ASAP!! Let's get this buddy read going :D

  6. I totally agree with the examples you picked. Mockingjay was a disappointment after the first two, but still good in itself. Specials didn't fit with the theme of Uglies and Pretties. And Allegiant... Well, Allegiant was just dreadful. In my personal opinion, of course.

    However, I do feel some blame is on the authors. Yes, we as readers get so hyped up and excited about series ending and want it to be oh so perfect, but I feel that some authors feel the opposite. It can't be easy to have such a large audience that's waiting to rip you to shreds if you don't write exactly what they want, and I think for that reason authors lose their passion for their series. Or, in extreme cases, they just churn anything out because they have dollar signs in their eyes.

    Great post nonetheless, and on a brighter note, I nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. :)

    Charlotte @ Bookmarks and Blogging

    1. Specials was unbearable! and I have friends who feel exactly the same, so it's not just us!! I think your personal opinion on these books is fairly representative of most people's personal opinion though!!
      But that's an interesting view. I mean, I never thought that authors could be dazzled by the money. You know? Like, I assumed that cause they were book people that they'd definitely be far too involved with the story than the cash, but I can see that that's maybe not the case. It would be so easy to just churn out what you think people want to hear rather than actually trying if it means you'd get the dough rolling in!! But anyway, an author's loss of passion generally = my loss of passion!!
      Thanks for the nomination :D I've actually already done the Sisterhood award, you can find it in my archive, but maybe I'll do it again if I get the time cause I'm greedy like that!!