Fairytale News | Reviewing series.


'Mel on reading' is a little feature I created as part of my Fairytale news. It's my way to show my thoughts on topics that go from pet peeves in reading to my favorite things in books.

Writing reviews is something I love to do. It’s fun to write down all my thoughts/feelings and talk about everything I liked and disliked. I always take care to post warnings about spoilers, because you know how much I hate spoilers. This is the reason I always have problems with reviews for series and installments.

It is SO hard to talk about a book in the middle of a series without giving too much information. I want to say enough to make people curious so they pick up the first book, but how on earth do you write such a review? The sequel is a continuation of a storyline and (hopefully) shows the development from characters, but you can't say too much about it. I feel like I'm walking in circles: trying to show you that it's a good book without actually coming to the point, because that might be a spoiler.

That's why it’s difficult for me to find a good way to review those sequels and they always seem to get less comments. I’ve been trying to write them in another format and you might have seen my first experiment where I reviewed the books of Bayern from Shannon Hale. I’m also saving reviews, so I can publish my reviews right after each other like with Mindy McGinnis duology Not a drop to drink and In a handful of dust.

The downside of these methods is, that some reviews have to wait until I’m done with the sequel(s) – and we all know from my mission impossible that there are a lot of unpublished series I’m reading. Sometimes I have no choice but to publish my review, especially when it's a review copy.

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I’m very curious to see how you handle these sequel-reviews?

27 comments

  1. I always tend to try and keep those sequel reviews as little spoilery as possible. There's bound to be a few moments, but I always have a warning that says it's a sequel and to proceed with caution, but I'll tend to take about an 'issue' the charcater had, or the 'consequences of some actions in the previous installment' instead of what actually happened and that seems to be enough most of the time :) This is a great point though Mel, well done!

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  2. Book 2 and 3 are the HARDEST to review and I personally hate reviewing them. I do try to keep it spoiler free for the series, but I also find that I mostly am just rehashing the same thing I said in my review of book 1 especially when you talk about non-plot stuff you know. Oh and I'm reading In a handful of dust now! :D That one's more of a companion novel though so book 1 and 2 could be easier to review I think!

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  3. I tend to emphasis on how the series improved in various aspects without going into too much details when I write series reviews. Things like "the characters become even more complex as [insert vague-ish plot setting here]", but you are right it is hard. When you try so hard to avoid all the spoilers, at the end of the day there really isn't much else left to say without appearing overly ambiguous. Also, I find it super unsatisfying sometimes because I can't always start up the discussions I'd like to have in fear of ruining someone else's reading experience.

    Angel @ Spare Reads

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  4. You're so right about reviewing series! I've only recently begun to read completed series books back-to-back. With these, I have done series reviews with no spoilers. Of course, these aren't exactly reviews per se because they're older books, so they're more like posts on what I like/didn't like. I've had a couple of people mention liking that format because it isn't spoilery. But you're so right about comments and views being down on the successive books, and that is a bummer because in reality we tend to get more excited the closer we are to the end of a series and we want to !!! and discuss those books the most!

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  5. Oh man, I don’t think I’ve reviewed too many series books, but I think the ones I have reviewed were significantly more harder to write. Like you said, it’s difficult to talk about the second book without disclosing what happens in the first. You want your review to be reasons why a reader should read it (or shouldn’t), but sometimes you also want to talk about the first book to refresh people’s mind. But spoilers! I always say, in the beginning of the review, that if people haven’t read the book they should really read it, and I link to my review of that first book.

    I would loveeee to review the series as one review, but it's so hard because SO MANY BOOKS TO READ if it's part of a series + the waiting game when the next book hasn't been published + my reviews will be a ten page essay. Lollll. ;D

    I’ve always wondered whether people really do read the reviews of books in a series when they haven’t read the first book. It would be rather silly to do that.

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  6. Yes! I totally get this! I posted about this a while ago, actually, too, and I have the EXACT same conclusion as you. It's seriously hard to do sequel reviews. And like, as a reader, I'll skip a review of a sequel whether it has spoilers or not, just because I don't want too much info before I read the first. *nods* I hardly ever read full series, so reviewing sequels isn't much for me. Although I AM up to reviewing City of Heavenly Fire soon. o.O That will be seriously hard....because when you get up to a book #6 anything and everything you mention is a potential spoiler.

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  7. I have the same problem as you.Especially when I read books of a series with a huge time gap between their release dates.I've seen a lot of reviewers include all the books of the series in the same review, but then comes the problem of forthcoming sequels.
    Sometimes I avoid reading sequel reviews if I haven't read the first book.But as a reviewer I still haven't found the solution.The only advantage I have in that matter is that since I tend to abandon series after the first book often, I don't have the need to worry about reviewing sequels a lot:)

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  8. Mel, I actually never noticed that I could possibly spoil someone if I reviewed a sequel o.O When I write sequel-reviews, all I have in my mind is what I think about the book, and not how I could POSSIBLY SPOIL SOMEONE. But with writing all reviews, I never try to spoil anything at all! I just get extra cautious so as not to ruin it for anybody!

    Lovely post! Why did I only notice now????? HAHA :) But thanks for actually letting me know about this <3

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  9. I...just post them. But I definitely know what you mean. It's hard because everything you tread on could be a potential spoiler and that's the last thing anyone wants. That being said, sometimes there's no way of holding these reviews back and so I just let them out into the world...

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  10. Oh my, I just write a review based on what I think not even thinking of other things. Maybe I should be careful spilling beans and stuff because I always just ramble endlessly. I should put some thought on people who have yet to read the first book.

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  11. Sometimes I go with spoilers with the first book (with clear SPOILERS AHEAD markers of course!) and other times I try to go spoiler free.

    I personally don't WANT to read a 2nd or 3rd book in a series review until I've read the first one myself, so I typically skim a series review book lightly just to see if there were intense emotions one way or the other...

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  12. This is a really interesting topic Mel, I guess with sequel reviews I make sure I don't spoil anything major and that you wouldn't find in a blurb of the book. If there are major series spoilers I usually hide it in a spoiler tag, although I don't do that often at all. Sometimes those types of reviews can inspire people to pick up the series as you said.

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  13. This is SUCH an interesting discussion question Mel! I've always wondered the same thing and what others have done with series reviews. Personally, I don't usually do full reviews on the series - I usually just do a paragraph of my thoughts on Goodreads. Thanks for sharing Mel and fabulous post!

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  15. When it comes to reviewing sequels, I only worry about omitting spoilers particular to the book I'm reviewing. I prefer to review sequels in the context of the series, such as whether it adequately addresses questions that I was left hanging with in the previous books. Say Book #1 had a huge cliffhanger, I remind readers what that was and note whether Book #2 continues from there and plugs the potholes of Book #1. Stuff like that.

    The synopses for sequels alone already are spoilers for the first books in series, so avoiding spoilers to me is an almost impossible pursuit. But to be safe I always add a disclaimer that a book I'm reviewing is a sequel and contains spoilers for the previous books, then link up my book reviews of the previous books in the series.

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  16. I hate reviewing a series. I always worry about giving too much away. If it's book one, I always have a lot to say. Book two, I always feel lost when it comes it. And there's the last book. .some people may not have read it yet then it means I don't have anyone to share opinion with and like I said, what if I gave too much away. Ugh.

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  17. Amazing post Mel. <3 But aw. I'm sorry you have issues with this :( I totally understand, though. But yeah. When I write reviews for second or third books I just write what I want about them (A) most often spoilers of the first book. But then. I don't write *spoilers* first, because I figure that is obvious when it is a review for a second book :p so anyway. I'm really, really sorry if I have spoiled anything for you. <3 (I don't usually spoil things. I don't think. Hm.) Anyway. Thank you so much for sharing about it sweetie. <3 You are awesome.

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  18. Series reviews are tough. Unless I really loved or hated the book, I most likely won't review it. Maybe series reviews would be better to just go with a group of mini reviews?

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  19. I always find it really difficult to write series reviews, too. I've thought a lot about it and I just try to keep them as free of spoilers as possible, but if it's a series that I just HAVE to talk to people about the spoilers I'll write a separate discussion post with spoilers. I try to stay away from reading reviews of later books in series if I haven't read them just to be safe! I hate getting spoiled without expecting it!

    Em @ Books & Cleverness

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  20. Oh I totally understand you. Sequels are hard because you don't want to include spoilers from the first book. I try to be super vague with the summary and then I just include my feels and reaction to the book, and if there were character/world development.

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  21. I agree, it is VERY hard to review a sequel. You basically have to say next to nothing so you don't give anything away! I usually just skip them, unless I just want to flail about them (which I like to do from time to time) so I will just make it a post that doesn't say much but has some fun graphics. I figure when it comes to reviewing a sequel, people mostly want to know if it's decent or a disappointment, so I can get my point across without even saying a ton. Great topic, I have definitely had this problem!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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  22. I agree that sequels are a difficult thing to review. In fact, I finished Chaos weeks ago and I still haven't written my review because I don't know how to do the book justice but also remain vague enough so as not to spoil anything. And I agree that they get less comments, I imagine because people are afraid of spoilers even though I make a point not to include any. Then again, everyone's definition of a spoiler varies a little I bet. I feel like I am writing this response in circles! Basically, I have no answers for you hah. If you find a solution, let me know ;)

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  23. I could not agree more! Whenever I try to write a review for a sequel I always want to say something along the lines of: "how do I even review this book?" Usually, I just say whether or not there are spoilers for the first (second, etc) book and go from there. Or my first paragraph I talk about the series as a whole without spoilers and then let readers know I'm gonna get more detailed. I just had to write my review for Retribution of Mara Dyer and I honestly wasn't sure I knew how. One, because of spoilers, but also how do you write a book for a sequel to a very popular series? Either people won't read it because they haven't read the first book, or they won't read it because they still haven't read the current one. It's difficult. :/

    Danielle @ Love at First Page

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  24. Yeah, I've seen this problem with reviews for the sequel of a series. Usually I write a full review anyways instead of a short one because you never know if there's somebody who read the first book or the second book or even a third book (if there is a third book) who is wondering whether or not to continue reading the series and maybe your review would be the review that helps make that decision for them.
    As for spoilers, I put anything that could be considered a spoiler in a spoiler tag. It really sucks that some sequels contain spoilers in the summary though (I think that part CAN be avoided).

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  25. Personally, what I find is that the blurb of a second or third book (especially when you look it up on Goodreads) often gives a lot away, so I tend to avoid those blurbs myself. When I think of it that way, I usually assume that people don't really read the reviews of a sequel because they realise that they might get spoiled, plus I always indicate which book in the series it is.
    When it comes to spoilers, I HATE them too, and my general rule is that I talk more about the elements of the book I liked than what actually happens in it. With sequels, there are details that are inevitable to include and I think that for me, I find it easier just to hope for the above. XD

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  26. When I review series, I usually try to talk about things that are already evident in the blurb since I assume my reader looks over the blurb. Or I talk about a new character without being very spoilery about them.

    As for reading reviews of mid-series books, I don't really read those, haha! I try to go back and see if the person posted a review of the first book recently and then comment on that instead.

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  27. It's definitely a struggle! When it comes to sequels, I try to talk more about how much I enjoyed each aspect of the book. I try not to go into the plot too much because I know that can ruin it for a lot of people. :D

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