It’s a crazy phenomenon that I know is not a new concept… Nevertheless, we all suffer from time-to-time…
THE SECOND IN A SERIES SLUMP
So there I am. Starting the second book in a series in which I absolutely adored book one. The anticipation is killing me! But then the more and more I read, the more and more I’m let down. How is it possible that I loved Book One so much and I’m struggling so much with Book Two? What happened to the joy and excitement from the first book? Where am I going wrong here? Is there something wrong with me!? Well friends, if any of these questions sound familiar to you, I think I’ve figured it out.
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
After running into this problem many, many times with the second book in a series, I think I’ve finally figured it out. Here are some tell-tale signs that I’m suffering from The Second in a Series Slump.
1. It’s often a dystopian or science fiction-type book.
Why in the world does that make a difference? Trust me. It does. In so many of the dystopian and/or science fiction-y books I’ve read, Book One introduces us to the characters and their big issue, usually with some type of government or society (so pretty much every dystopian novel you’ve read). Our hero and main character goes through the normal trials tribulations and then HOORAY! They escape the grasp of the evil society. But wait a minute! Now that they’ve eluded the government, they know the character is out there and rebelling. Time to go into hiding! ENTER BOOK TWO.
2. Wait a minute, where are we???
Now that our brave MC has escaped the society/government/bad guy, it’s time to HIDE! Hiding, running, fleeing… These are common themes of book two. The problem I usually have with this is yes, the chase is exciting but… I’m so unfamiliar with the territory here! We spent so much time loving/adoring/fearing the world building that was so well laid out by the author in Book One and now we’re in an entirely different setting. I feel like when the character goes on the lam, I have to totally readjust and the world building starts all over again. Sometimes it totally works, but then the other times, I’m in another completely different world. I’m distracted by this new setting that it takes me a while to adjust to all these changes and I start to get lost. I have to take the existing plot and somehow connect it to a brand new place that I’m not familiar with. More focus on the world building and less focus on where we’re headed on this plot-journey.
3. Missing the Old Characters/Introducing New Characters
So now we’re in another foreign land and because our main character was on the run, we he/she had to leave the friends/family/love interest behind in order to save themself. Is this all starting to ring a bell? New setting + lack of familiar characters = Lost again. I was just adjusting to the new world! Now you’re giving me new characters too? Meanwhile, I’m still wondering what happened to the love interest/best friend/family that was left behind (as is the character). I feel like my attention is spread so thin that I’m not sure what’s the most important thing to concentrate on anymore.
4. The two young lovers are usually separated
After a narrow escape, the love interest tries to save the MC. “Leave me! Save yourself!” So they did. So often, Book Two separates our two main characters and they spend the whole book trying to reunite. You know what made Book One so interesting? THE LOVE STORY. So why did we take it out of Book Two? Why are you killing me with this!?!? I just want the love story back!!! Bring these two youngsters back together!
5. Introducing a Love Triangle
Wait, what!?! We already have MC missing the love interest that they left behind and most likely it was that love interest who set our MC running. But we have to have SOME kind of romance in Book Two, right? Enter new person: Helping keep our MC safe and of course it’s always someone of the opposite sex, isn’t it? MIXED FEELINGS. We’ve got old feelings and new feelings and it’s ALL SO CONFUSING – both for MC and the audience. I really don’t want to like this new love interest, but you know I always kind of do… NO, not another love triangle!!! What happened to the original, pure love story between the two original characters? What happens when they reunite? WILL they reunite?
Combine all of these elements and you have the perfect storm of The Second in a Series Slump. Usually it’s Book Two if we’re dealing with trilogies. If the series is longer, the storm may not hit until Book Three or Four, so be on the lookout! When it all comes down to it, it’s just too many new things all at once. Changing so many things that I loved in the first book doesn’t help me get along with the second book very well. It’s not to say that I’ll have Book Two, but it just feels like a completely different story sometimes. It’s hard to make that connection with the original and connect the two distinct plot lines.
Book Two in a Trilogy/Series:
Didn’t Hit Me Til Book Three/Four:
Now don’t despair! Just because we suffer from The Second in a Series Slump doesn’t mean that the series is over. There have been many times where Book Three has redeemed the whole series and brought everything back together! Sadly… Other times this phenomenon didn’t actually occur UNTIL Book Three and well… You lost me there. As seen above with The Death Cure and Mockingjay – Well… Those were the endings to the trilogy and a delayed Second in a Series Slump effectively created a poor ending for a series I was enjoying. When this happened in Blood Promise, it took until Book Four but then we jumped right back into the swing of things with Book Five!
In the case of Pandemonium and Fever, I still enjoyed the books and the story lines that the main characters were pulled along, but I just found it difficult to connect these new characters and this new place with what I loved so much about the first book!
Have you ever been hit by The Second in a Series Slump? Do you find that these rules apply to this phenomenon? Did you have any of the same books that I listed above?