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When The First Book Is Good And The Rest Suck

In the passenger glove box of my fiancé’s car is a book.

It is called the Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.

I read this book when I was in High School and was basically obsessed. I remember sitting in my form class like, unable to do anything but focus on it.

Basically the idea is this: Alice and Wonderland totally happened, the version we know penned by Lewis Carol was a fairy tale he wrote based on true events.

Alice (or Alyss) is a princess from an alternative reality where imagination is like a super power. Her parents had been the king and queen but they are murdered by the evil Queen of Hearts, and as a result Alyss is taken to earth to remain safe. Then the rest of the story tells about Alyss’s return to her kingdom and rise to her throne.

It is a pretty epic book. The whole thing. Brilliant writing, the characters are stunning, Alyss is really awesome and the love story between her and her former childhood friend Dodge is adorable.

The thing is, there are two other books in this series, Seeing Red and Archenemy, and I cannot remember what happens in either of these not because I didn’t read them but because they are boring.

The same can be said for Of Poseidon by Anna Banks.

I mean I love mermaids as much as the next person so when I spotted this book I read the whole thing in like… a day. The super awesome story of a half mermaid half human girl and her super stud prince from under the sea. I mean it wasn’t profound or anything but it was pretty entertaining.

There are two other books in this series too… I’ve read one of them, hardly remember what happened and didn’t bother with the third.

I am a committed and loyal reader. When I find characters and a concept I like I don’t need to be begged to read it.

I do have to like it though.

Isn’t it funny how you get a book series like that? When the first book is awesome and the rest are a wet bus stick slap to the face?

The fundamental question (especially as an author) is how do you avoid this?

Here are my ideas:

– Avoid the Middle Book Muddiness. As in, avoid the fact that it can be easy to go book one: people know what is happening, book two: stuff happens that isn’t resolved because I have one more book to go, and book three: everything concludes. Make sure that there are specific purposes to each book including the middle ones.

– Take advantage of mini conclusions. Obviously you don’t need to wrap up the whole story but we want to see some happy endings and resolutions to the storyline

– Make sure there is a specific purpose for each book. I am Number Four didn’t do this. There is no specific point to each of the books so I struggle to tell them apart. You need to decide which pieces of the puzzle will be found in which books and make sure there’s no stringy unfinished edges.

At the end of the day a good series needs to be like How I Met Your Mother.

By this I mean good small storyline conclusions, parts that are small victories and contained to their own episode. Then there are parts that nod to the whole storyline. Oh right, the yellow umbrella belonged to the mother… ish parts. Then there are ‘This will not be resolved until the very end’ parts. A good book series must have all three of these kinds of elements.

The Looking Glass Wars and the Of Poseidon books? They didn’t.

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