Question of the Week: 2nd Books

Movie Monday probably isn’t happening today because I had a sick little monster on my hands yesterday, so my time was spent with her at 10 pm instead of vegging watching a movie.

So… here’s your question of the week.

“Do you believe that 2nd books in trilogies HAVE to be able to standalone (from an introductory standpoint?)”

Ie: Does the author need to spell out everything that happened in the first book for you, so that you know exactly what is going on? Or should the author just be able to assume you’ve read the first book, and go from there?

Why? Why not?

Points for originality in the answers! I’ll edit the post to include the best answers eventually.

As for myself: No, I don’t think they need to stand alone. I think (like my best friend) that the first book ABSOLUTELY must be a stand-alone, but the 2nd one…not so much. I mean, who picks up the *second* book in a series without reading the first book anyways??

So…. whatcha think?


14 thoughts on “Question of the Week: 2nd Books

  1. I think the best authors make each book stand on it’s own but leave bread crumbs, so that if you pick up book two without having read book one, there are small throw away lines that sketch out what happened in book one without a full on rehash. Did that make sense?

    1. Yes, that makes perfect sense. I think that’s how most of us like it. 🙂 I’ve got a fantasy book to read where another reviewer has already said “If you haven’t read the first one, you have NO clue what’s going on in this one” and that got me started thinking on it.

        1. The first book in the series was really good – one of the few fantasy books that I’ve truly liked – so I’m hoping I’m not disappointed in this book. I have no issues walking away from it if need be though! (I’m a chronic first booker. lol. Its rare that I actually want to read more than the first book in a series.)

  2. Even if Hugh reading the first book can be helpful, I feel most second books are written in a way for the reader to just jump in. Usually there is a bit of rerun as the author jogs our memory, but second, third, and fourth books should be stand sloes in theory. Or so I think.

  3. I get kind of bored if there are books that detail everything again that has happened in the first book, but I think the question is still difficult to answer! On the one hand, books are often published with a year or more inbetween parts of a series and then it can be quite useful to trigger your memory, if you don’t reread books like me. Then again, if you binge-read a series, it definitely feels like the most useless part of the book. So, I don’t really know. I’m not sure there is a right answer to it.

      1. I’d really like that! I mean referencing stuff from previous books is totally alright if it’s done in moderation, but full on explanations would probably be better off in a separate section like you mentioned.

  4. Well, for a start, if a trilogy is published by a traditional publisher, THEY will insist on it. And if self-published, nothing pees off fans of the first book more than being subjected to an unsatisfactory ending in book two. It’s bad writing and a bad promotional move, period. You are affectively telling people, they must buy the third book to find out what happens to their favourite characters and all the story strands you’ve developed in book one. It’s insulting towards the reader, which is why traditional publishers will steer newbie writers well clear of taking such a path. It spells bad reviews – and therefore poor sales figures – all round.

      1. You seem to be contradicting your own blog-post here! I know what a stand-alone book is, I write and review them all the time. You started your post with the idea that it’s not a given “must” that a trilogy should consist of three full completed works that would satisfy readers even if they never read the rest. Obviously, every book in a trilogy should work as a stand-alone book, although not necessarily every story strand needs to be revealed or explained in each book, thus leaving a little door open in each to continue the “saga”.

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