July 26th: Series That Got Better
— We’ve talked about series that went downhill with each book, but talk about series that are worth pushing through the first (or first few…) books to get to the good stuff!
I found this week’s topic so hard! If I read a book and it’s bad, I tend not to bother with the sequels, so there are very few series on my shelf that started badly. I had to really search to find five books for this topic.
I was tempted to put DIVERGENT on this list because INSURGENT is certainly better than DIVERGENT, but then there was the utter rubbish and disappointment of ALLEGIANT so unfortunately that series will have to wait for a list of Series With Terrible Endings. Anyway – here are five series that got better!
Number one: BLACK MAGICIAN TRILOGY by Trudi Canavan
This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work-—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders…and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians’ Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.
This series definitely starts off slow – in fact, when I tried to reread it recently I couldn’t make it through the first book – but I know the rest of the series is worth it! I think I’ll have to try again when I’m in the right mindset for this kind of fantasy. There’s some serious twists and turns in this series that make it so worth the effort!
Number two: WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS TRILOGY by Maggie Stiefvater
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.
Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
I actually thought the first book in this series was pretty good, so I wasn’t expecting the sequels to be better, but they were! You think there’s a route this series will take, and it really doesn’t take it.
Number three: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE SERIES by George R.R. Martin
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
I read the first ASOIAF book on holiday in 2013, and it took me the best part of three years to get round to picking up the rest of the series! It’s not that A GAME OF THRONES is boring, it’s just such a hard read to start with because there’s so much going on – characters to introduce, lore to read up on etc.
Number four: SHATTER ME TRILOGY by Tahereh Mafi
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
I really wasn’t sure about this trilogy when I first read SHATTER ME. The writing style takes a lot of getting used to and the protagonist grated on me a bit, but I had heard so much about it I was determined to read the rest of the series – and it really does get better!
Number five: TWILIGHT SAGA by Stephenie Meyer
When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.
What Bella doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back….
I first read TWILIGHT aged about fourteen, and I thought it was amazing, but my tastes have changed as I’ve grown up and I can see now how many issues this series has – especially this first book – but I maintain that it gets better as the series goes on! I love how much the characters grow and evolve as the books go on.