This being my third Idiosyncratic Lit List, it seems only appropriate to talk about the excessive tripling that’s been going on lately… Can anybody explain to me WHY dystopian novels so rarely stand alone anymore? I mean, the cheese does it, why can’t a dystopian novel? That’s not to say I dislike trilogies, but they make me nervous. Having a killer first novel puts a ton of pressure on the next two books… Sometimes I think writers are only doing the trilogy thing because THAT’S WHAT YOU DO, not because the story really needs or deserves three whole books… OBVIOUSLY this calls for a list or two, don’t you think?
Dystopian Trilogies Doing it Right
1. The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood: It’s almost unfair to compare dystopian trilogies to Margaret Atwood because so many of them are YA novels. That’s not to say there’s no merit in YA novels, but the hardcore literary headiness of Atwood puts her in a different class. She’s already proven to me that she can kick butt in a stand-alone dystopia (The Handmaid’s Tale is ah-mazing), so I’m not about to throw shade on her trilogy vibe. Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam were awesome.
2. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: To be completely honest here, I think the first book in this trilogy is far and away the strongest. However, I thought there was enough going on story-wise to merit all three books. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay had me hooked from the very beginning and didn’t loosen their grip until… Wait. They still haven’t. Stop strangling my soul, books!
3. The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant: A zombie apocalypse is totally dystopian, right? Whatever, I just want to talk about how much I loved these books again. Feed, Deadline, Blackout . Read them, read them now.
Dystopian Trilogies That Should Have Quit While They Were Ahead
1. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth- Divergent and Insurgent were strong books, but O to the M to the G, what HAPPENED with Allegiant? That was just a rushed mess. I don’t need “happy” endings, but I do need endings that are well drawn. The ping ponging of points of view mingled with the bipolar pace of action was just not okay.
2. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie- I’m not entirely sure why I read this entire series. I didn’t much care for it from the get-go, and the third book was my favorite of the bunch. Matched was kind of blah, Crossed was kind of awful, and Reached was too little too late. (Gotta give you props for the FLOWERS saving the world, though, Ms. Condie!) This may have worked out better as two books, cutting out the middle man. It just didn’t work as a three-for.
3. The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner- Technically this is a trilogy plus a prequel, but I wanted to put it on my list, so pretend with me. I was completely hooked by The Maze Runner, but as the books went on, my interest waned. The Scorch Trials got a bit manic, and The Death Cure pulled a Lost and didn’t answer all my questions. I think this is a case of a book that would have done better as a single story with a nice meaty epilogue.
Talk to me, Bookworms. Any of you have a love/hate relationship with trilogies?
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