Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is a fun, snarky, Victorian romp that will delight fans of Lemony Snicket. But as I look at my Good Reads reviews, I see that I like each book a little less. Which begs the question, how long can a series hold the interest of the reader?
Now, to be fair, I don't mean a series like Sweet Valley High, or Baby-Sitter's Club, which just went on and on. I mean a series where each book feeds off the other. A series best read in sequence with major questions left unanswered at the end of every book.
In the case of ICAP (this acronym pays homage to the many acronyms used in installment three and typing Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place takes a very long time) the questions that need to be addressed are, what happened to the children that they were able to survive in a cave? Where are Miss Lumley's parents? Are Miss Lumley and the children connected? And there are several more questions that get brought up with each book. While the books are fun, by the third book, I'm growing tired of the narrator speaking directly to the reader, the sayings of Agatha Swathborne, the propriety of the times, so on and so forth. I want answers!
How long can a children's series evade questions? Readers grow up and move on, and returning to a "kids book" is quite embarrassing. I once made the mistake of letting a 7th grader know that I had put the latest 39 Clues book on hold for her while at a teen volunteers meeting. The look she gave me was one of sheer horror, and I'm sure she told her friends it was for her little brother later that day.
To me, when a series drags on without giving readers at least some new information, it is a struggle to keep readership up to the very end. Yes, new readers will come along and read the whole series start to finish, but your original readers are not going to stick it out. Who knows, by the time ICAP finishes up, the original readers (likely 9 year-olds in 2010) could be coming up on high school! They are not going to go back.
My advice to publishers and authors writing what look to be lengthy series, publish quicker! You've hooked young readers for a reason, so let them read the series to completion! And I might be selfish here because I don't want to to wait another 6 years to find out what happens in ICAP. But, this series might just fall by the wayside for me, like so many others. I'm no longer reading the 39 Clues, Bright Young Things, Sisters of Prophecy, and I'm only reading some series out of a sense of obligation.
It's like the show How I Met Your Mother. It's funny, I enjoy the new episodes, but at the same time, I just wanna meet the stinkin' mother already and move on!
What do you think? What is a good length for a children's series? Would you favor a faster publishing schedule? Anyone else wondering when we're gonna meet the mother?
And to see my review of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Unseen Guest, find me on Good Reads. Just look for Miss Tiffany!