Friday Feature: We Need to Talk About…

…reviewing books in a series.

What happened to #1???
What happened to #1???

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. In a similar way to how I find reviewing 5-star (or in my case 5-Unicorn) books difficult, I find reviewing individual books from a series just as difficult.

I’m wondering this as I try to write a coherent review of Monsters of Men, the final book in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy. But I’m not even talking about trilogies here. They are hard enough, but what about say a book #6 or #10 in a series? How do you, as reviewers, tackle those? I tend to get vaguer with every sequel I talk about!

Here are the obstacles as I see them:

1. Spoilers: It’s pretty much impossible to review one of the books with enough depth without giving away any spoilers from any of the previous books. Depending on the complexity of the series of course, but it can be impossible to mention anything plot-wise that will not give away something that you wouldn’t want to know if you hadn’t read the previous books.

2. Content: And then there’s the actual content of the review. Do you give an overview of the story so far each time, or do you just concentrate on that one book? If you don’t give any background, will what you say even make any sense?

3. Audience: Which brings me to wonder if only people who have read, or at least started the series, will want to read the review? I must admit – I do it. If bloggers put one of those handy ‘about’ bits at the start of their review and it says ‘Series so and so’ #4′ I probably wouldn’t bother reading the review. I might see if it gives the name of the first book to check out, but 9 times out of 10 I wouldn’t read the main body of the post. Don’t get me wrong, blog stats are not the be all and end all for me at all. But what’s the point of spending time writing something and posting it on a public outlet for no one to read it. That’s why we blog right? Especially if you do that for 8 books that the majority of your readers won’t read.

Luckily for me, I am pretty rubbish at sticking to series. I have to be really engrossed by them read every book just because I don’t like to read the same kind of things back to back, and when I take a break from a series to read something else I usually forget to go back to them…and by the time I do remember I don’t feel the same need to read the next book any more. Madness, I know.

One I do want to continue with though are the Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead. I really enjoyed the first book and I’m waiting for the next one to arrive. Early days yet, but if I do end up reading the whole series I’m wondering how to tackle it. I know I won’t read them all in one go so it could be forever until I finish them if I wanted to review the series as a whole. Or do I just do mini-reviews (I think I like this idea the most – anything to save a bit of time)…?

So I ask you lovely blogosphere…have you come across any of these obstacles? And, if so, do you have any tips to share?

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