Have you ever read a book series and gotten to a certain point and wondered to yourself, “why are there so many books in this series?” Because I have multiple times in my life.
Most YA book series can churn out about three books, creating a solid trilogy, but sometimes you have authors who choose to write duologies instead, which are equally as successful as what a trilogy would’ve been. And then there are times where an author, or a publisher, go beyond the standard trilogy for many reasons but I personally never feel like they’re necessary.
So today, I’m going to look at some of the popular YA series I’ve read in the past and answer the age old question: did it really need that many books?
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard: Absolutely Not
I’ve already spoken about this series and since there are 16 books in total, the answer is a resounding no. You can argue that 8 books was a stretch, and 12 was excessive; but 16 books? Who has that much story to tell? I still enjoyed each book but I still can’t believe I not only read all 16 books but own them all. The only saving grace, in my opinion, is that each batch of four is grouped as its own story arc so it’s not like the story was ridiculously drawn out quite like the 7 season show on Freeform. We don’t talk about that.
Six of crows by Leigh Bardugo: Yes
Honestly, if Leigh Bardugo extended this beyond the two books it would’ve ruined it. I know that there’s “talk” of her potentially writing a third book, though she’s never truly confirmed when it’d ever be written or released, I think she should leave well enough alone and set the series as a duology. The story ran its course and finished on such an inspiring and hopeful note. I know that people want another book because they want to see where the characters end up, but I don’t think that’s a good reason for another book. To me, it’s perfect just the way it is. She told the story she wanted to tell, knowing her limits, and did a hell of a job writing each character arc. That’s all you can really ask for, you know?
Throne of Glass by Sarah j Maas: no
Disclaimer: I don’t like Sarah J Maas or who she is as an author. She’s not my cup of tea. But, as one does when they first get into YA books back in the old days of 2015, you pick up the Throne of Glass series and think it’s good but watch it rapidly decrease in story and quality as the books go on. I think there are 7 books for this series, but she lost me around the third book. By the fourth book, it felt like there was too much going on, far too many plots and characters to keep track of, and that’s not a good look for a series. I also thought that, when I picked up the series, that there were only four books and that’s why I powered through to finish it and was severely disappointed to discover the fourth book wasn’t the end. Is that why I felt like the 7 books is too much? Maybe. But I also think that when a series goes beyond 5 books max, the author has diverted from their original plot to the point of no return. Plus, you can’t help but feel the publisher extended the initial contract for more books since they sold so much. So is the book total for the reader’s benefit or the publisher’s? Much to think about.
An Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: Maybe
Listen, I adore this story. The first book absolutely blew me away when I first read it and have kept up with the series ever since. But while I’m happy that there are four books to tell this story, I can’t help but feel that maybe it’s a bit too much. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the third book, finding it to be more filler than I expected, but knowing that there was one final book to (hopefully) fix all my disappointment constantly reassured me. So it’s really a toss up. I know that this story needs a lot of space to be told, but I also can’t decide if four is the magic number. Maybe I’ll have a different opinion after reading the final book.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: no
This is another example of how a series that goes beyond your basic trilogy is just too much. I was pretty disappointed by the third book in this series and had absolutely no interested in reading the fourth book, even though it was the last book. Again, there were too many characters and plot lines introduced in the third book to flush it out, probably because the total number of books in the series wasn’t expected, and it was all dragged out when it really didn’t need to. It’s like when you see a new television show that has a great, unique premise, but concludes that story within its first season and you have absolutely no idea what they’re going to do with the second season; it’s not the type of story that can go on and on and on.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken: yes
If you’re ever wondering how to do a trilogy, this series is the perfect example. Each book had its own purpose and Bracken wrote it in such a way that tied every plot line to one another and managed to bring it all full circle in the end. I know that there’s a spinoff book with a younger main character in this trilogy, but I don’t count it in this particular book count. This is how a book series should feel for a reader, to know that everything you’re reading matters and has a reason and you can feel how intentional everything Bracken wrote was.
There’s no scientific way to truly determine if a book series had the right amount of books written or not but more of a test based on personal taste and interest. While I have my opinions on these books, someone out there might feel the complete opposite and that’s perfectly ok; all opinions should be heard, respected, and valued.
But at the end of the day, we can all agree that Pretty Little Liars had far too many books.