Sofia Alvarado Mendoza ´18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
There comes a time when every story must end; the final sentence must be read and the last page turned. Saying goodbye is not an easy task for both readers and writers. The bonds that are made with characters turn them into friends, if the writer does their job successfully; characters become much more than paper people. The universes authors so carefully craft become home and abandoning them can be heartbreaking. It is undeniable that while stories usually end in happy endings, such endings can be bittersweet. The latest trend in literature proves that saying goodbye is as hard for authors as it is for readers, if not even harder. Spin-offs are becoming more and more popular every year. It is rare to find a popular series that won’t be followed by whatever spin-offs the author can muster.
Understanding the appeal of spin-offs for publishers, authors, and readers is no difficult task. Publishers will gladly accept more books that are guaranteed to sell especially with the current situation of the industry. For authors, spin-offs mean less work and the comfort of working with familiar settings and faces. Readers get to spend more time with their adored characters and in their favorite locations. From this standpoint it is hard to conceive anything wrong with this literary trend. The problem comes when determining how much is enough, and if there is a point when a story and characters must be left alone for good.
The best example with spin-offs that are out of control comes with Cassandra Clare author of the The Mortal Instruments. Originally started as a Harry Potter fanfiction following the likes of Draco Malfoy, Clare published the first book in what was intended to be a trilogy in 2007, City of Bones. After the publication of what was to be the final book, City of Glass, it was announced that Clare planned to not only release three more books in the series, but also to publish a prequel series consisting of three books titled The Infernal Devices. In 2013, she published a collection of short stories following one of the characters found in both TMI and TID with two fellow YA authors. The next year, she announced plans to continue both series with trilogies following different characters introduced in the final books of the previous series. In addition, she revealed plans to publish two graphic novels that will act as a prequel for the original story, a collection of short stories following one of the main characters from the original books and a final trilogy that will tell the story of characters introduced in the final book of her next trilogy The Dark Artifices. The total number of books that comprise the so called Shadowhunter Chronicles amount up to 22 books, that is over 20 books set in the same universe that follow closely related characters.
Many authors from the same genre have followed on Clare’s footsteps. Richelle Meade author of the Vampire Academy series published a six-book series following a character from the previous one with many of the same characters as protagonists, and it is believed that a new spin-off will be announced soon. Rick Riordan published a spin-off/continuation to the Percy Jackson series that concluded in 2014. Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha trilogy announced plans for a spin-off shortly after the conclusion to the trilogy was published. There is no denying that the spin-off trend is strong as ever.
Spin-offs can be gracefully executed in two ways. The first one is to follow completely different characters in a different setting that exist within the new fictional universe. An example of this can be found with what J.K. Rowling is doing with the movie trilogy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The second one is to release no more than the necessary number of spin-offs with which the story still works and the characters are still lovable.
Another problem with spin-offs is that they can reduce the chances of new books being published and they can alienate the reader if there is too many books to read. As hard as it may be to say goodbye there comes a point when it is impossible not to do it. Publishers and authors should consider this when debating a new spin-off because a graceful ending to a fictional universe will always be better than one which drags on.