Not many things are perfect in this world, but does that stop my intolerably high standards and demands? Haha. No.
Although when I say “not many things are perfect” I obviously exclude MYSELF who is a pocket sized catastrophe that is in want of no improving. And also the actual existence of cake is perfect. It’s doing a great job, do not criticise it.
Now I accidentally started a bit of a blogging-series that can absolutely be summarised as: CAIT PICKS SOMETHING AND LAYS ALL HER DEMANDS FOR ITS PERFECTION ON THE TABLE. Not a concise title so I went with the “What should the perfect [insert something here] look like?” and this the series was born. Of course the point is: this is my wishlist and opinion! My “perfect” list of criteria is going to look different to yours. Not to say my opinion is better but…YET…
Today I’m going to talk about what makes the perfect YA trilogy!
So let’s get started on my list of impossible demands!
✓ EACH BOOK NEEDS TO HAVE ITS OWN EPIC PLOT.
You’d think this isn’t a wild thought, buuuut apparently it is. So many trilogies use the 1st book to just set up the plot —> the 2nd book to angst and fill in time —> the 3rd to roll out the battle and actual high stakes. And if I haven’t wandered away before that time IT’S A HEAVEN SENT MIRACLE. So all I ask is that every book has a plot! Goals and stakes to achieve! No “filler” content thanks I get that enough when I eat unsatisfying cereal.
✓ AVOID SECOND-BOOK-BLUES, PLEASE I’M FREAKING BEGGING YOU.
This does come off the back of the last one! BUT. Second-book-blues almost always happen when the first book is EPIC and the finale is going to be EPIC but what happens here??? Do we??? Do we, um…break up the thin romance? ✗ Make everyone go WALK somewhere to kill time?? ✗ Change everyone’s personalities for lolz to shake things up??? ✗
Things I like to see in sequels are:
- the stakes get HIGHER
- new characters get introduced so there’s plenty to kill in the finale (JOKING ABOUT THE KILLING…sort of)
- the scenery changes!! don’t let us stagnate in one setting for 3 books
- emotions get compromised, allegiances form and break etc.
- someone gets a frikkin’ nap because they probably didn’t in book 1 and i care about your sleep cycle
- smaller goals ARE attained so you realise there are monster-bigger-goals underneath #yikes
✓ DON’T LET IT BE 3 BOOKS OF THE SAME THING
This is a hit-or-miss one for me, because for instance: the Lara Jean trilogy is basically the same plot for ALL THREE BOOKS. I still loved it. But I did find myself slightly disappointed by the end
that the apocalypse didn’t start or anything. For fantasy trilogies: when I’m in a world for 3 books, you better heckin’ show me the world. For contemporary trilogies: the character dynamics need to change and MOVE in every book with new struggles to overcome. Because 3 books wondering WHO WILL GET TOGETHER is thin soup. I asked for bone soup. Give me bonnnnnes. *
* That sounded creepier than I intended…no wait. No I intended it to sound creepy. WELCOME TO MY BLOG.
✓ PLEASE DON’T LET THE FINALE BOOK BE A 500 PAGE BATTLE.
I’m sobbing. That puddle in the corner? LITERALLY ME SOBBING. This only goes for fantasy trilogies obviously, but holy heck I hate extended battle scenes. Is this just me?! I cannot keep up with all the people swinging their swords around and why that’s interesting. Just hit some people and move on, Morris.
✓ IT WON’T HAVE TOO MANY “SPOILER TROPES”.
I’m not opposed to tropes, heck no, I love so many of them and will happily read about awkward wizards and sassy thieves till death do us part. (And then I will come back as a GHOST and keep reading. Ha!) But when the spoiler tropes show up, I feel I can predict the whoooole ending and my life turns into a damp egg.
- suddenly introducing a new narrator in book 2 or 3 —> THE ORIGINAL PROTAGONIST IS GONNA DIE
- introducing a new handsome bOY in sequels —> oh love triangle
- breaking up the romance in book 2 —> you know it’s going to get back in book 3, this is tiring
- dropping lines like “I’ll tell you later when we’re safe!” —> you know someone’s getting kidnapped and taken away
Predicting things is OK! Just not with too many cliches, you know?!
✓ CLIFFHANGERS ARE A MUST ACTUALLY (I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST SAID THAT)
Looooook I hate waiting a year in aGONY too. But I need it! I need cliffhangers otherwise I honestly will lose that motivation to find out what happens next. Seriously I am the WORST at finishing things. I’ve started 3989 series and finished, like, 2. So I need that extra slap of motivation. Bring it. Throw me off a cliff. I’m ready.
✓ START EACH OF THE SEQUELS WITH A RECAP OF THE LAST BOOK!!
Can you imagine the LIVES this would save?! The entire world would literally spin faster on its axis in pure happiness! (Um…is that a good thing?? Probably not but don’t science @ me.) If I have to go 12 months between books I LOSE THE PLOT. Literally. Figuratively. Emotionally etc. etc. But, dude, if I go a week I also lose the plot. So. Recaps! I know a lot of blogs are dedicated to this, but books could also do it for us?? Pleeeeease.
✓ CHARACTER ARCS ≠ CHARACTER PERSONALITY FLIPS.
The only thing that needs to flip in a book is MY EMOTIONS when a cute dog comes on the page…and also, you know, I enjoy flipping the actual page too. Characters should develop and change but not so they’re unrecognisable!! It literally destroys me when I can’t even recognise my favourite characters by book 3. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE. WHERE ARE MY ORIGINAL CHILDREN.
They still need arcs! Emotional changes! Proof that they’re growing up and not stagnating! Things they’ve learned and are doing differently! But ugh @ so much change that no one’s the saaaaaame at all. A great example is Rhy in A Darker Shade of Magic, learning how to be an actual responsible prince instead of rambunctious EGG…but he’s still the same joking, loveable Rhy in book 3! Plus, you know, traumatised.
✓ HURT THE CHARACTERS AS WELL AS AXE ‘EM OFF.
I’m all for killing your darlings. I AM. But also pain and ruin work A+ as well, even more so sometimes?! Like if you continually take things that mean a lot to the character = yessss. Making a stolid character cry is more devastating than killing them off. And making them lose something irreplaceable (maybe their good name?! maybe their homeland?!) will have you weeping in the cellar without getting to bk 3 and having EVERYONE BE DEAD.
That is so awkward. 2/10 do not recommend. I have done this and it ends up just being a bunch of ghosts sitting moodily around for the finale, complaining about their lives and lack of pizza.