Yesterday morning it was announced that Michelle Hodkin would write a spin-off series of her best-selling Mara Dyer Trilogy, called The Shaw Confessions. Chaos ensued.
The Mara Dyer Trilogy was an incredible series, and rightfully so. It is rare that a debut novel from an author turns into something so beloved by the book world (although it seems to be happening more frequently, see: Divergent and Red Queen). I waited with baited breath for both the second and the third book, the latter of which readers had to wait almost two years to get their hands on after the release of The Evolution of Mara Dyer. It was a pretty painful wait, considering the cliffhanger ending implied the death of a major and beloved character. The wait was well worth it though, and Michelle Hodkins blew fans out of the water with the final book of the trilogy, The Retribution of Mara Dyer. She did an incredible job of tying up the loose ends (and trust me, there were A LOT), and giving Noah and Mara their happily ever after. After everything they had been through, those two definitely deserved it.
There seems to be a problem among most New Adult books (note: Mara Dyer is not a New Adult book, and I know that). The author writes a beautiful love story filled with angst and hardship, that always ends in a happily ever after. The heroine and hero end up together, and the reader is satisfied. Yet, a couple months later, the reader sees the notification that another book in the series is being released. “Why?” they wonder. “John and Jane were so happy together.” Yet for some reason, the author decides to throw the couple’s relationship into a whole tailspin, and drag it out for another 3 books. That leaves the reader with 4 books that are essentially the same: they are in love, something bad happens, they break up, they miss each other, they get back together, only to break up again for some reason in the next book. It’s an unending and tiring cycle. Maybe I wouldn’t be so irritated if I hadn’t finished reading Easy by Tammarra Webber yesterday morning, completely satisfied by the ending, only to find out there are two more books in the series. WHY Tammara Webber and other authors of the world?! WHY?
Then, only minutes later, I checked Instagram and saw the announcement for The Shaw Confessions, and lost it. Yes, I understand that it makes perfect sense to write such an incredible book from the male character’s point of view. Colleen Hoover did it in Finding Hope and Jennifer L. Armentrout did it with Trust in Me and Oblivion. However, it’s different to write the same story from a different POV, rather than continue the series (because that’s essentially what Michelle Hodkin is doing) in a different POV. She’s twisting the idea of a spin-off series, because this actually can’t technically be called a spin-off series. It has the exact same main characters, dealing with the exact same love interests and storyline, facing the exact same issues from the original books. A spin-off deals with characters from the original series that aren’t the main characters. Take The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout or the incredibly successful Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. Armentrout took the (totally sexy and sassy) side character Seth from her Covenant series and gave him his own series, Titan. Mead did the same thing with Sydney Sage and Adrian Ivashkov from her uber-successful Vampire Academy series, and gave them their own story in the Bloodlines series. Now in both cases, the spin-off may not have been as popular as the original series, but when is a spin-off of anything more popular?
In my opinion, this seems slightly lazy on Michelle Hodkin’s part. Don’t get me wrong (and please don’t attack me in the comments), I love Hodkin’s writing. I love Noah Shaw and Mara Dyer. I have often touted the Mara Dyer Trilogy as my all-time favorite trilogy. However, I feel like Hodkin is leaning too much on the success of her first trilogy. It’s much easier for her to continue Noah and Mara’s story than it is to write from a completely new point of view, such as that of a side-character. Before you argue and say that Noah’s point of view it is, take a peek at The Retribution of Mara Dyer. Noah’s POV is used throughout the book. So yes, this seems more like a continuation of the Mara Dyer Trilogy than it does an exciting new spin-off.
So, why is it that an incredibly talented author like Michelle Hodkin or Tammara Webber would drag out an incredible book? Actually, I can tell you why. It’s about the money. Obviously. An author can’t make a living without producing new material. I guess they think, hey if the first book sold well, why not drag it out? I can sympathize with this. It’s easy, and you’ve already got an established audience. However, is that audience happy? Sure, some of them are. But a lot of them are probably tired and emotionally drained from having their emotions ripped around all over the place repeatedly by the same characters. I always want to yell “Just get your shit together” at the characters, but then I remember, oh wait, they had it together at the end of the first book, before the author decided to mess it all up. So hey authors, if you want to make money off an established book by writing more about that world, don’t do it by continually writing about the same damn characters. Take a note from Jennifer L. Armentrout (With You Saga), Kristen Callihan (Game On series), Addison Moore (3:AM Kisses series), Jamie McGuire (The Maddox Brothers Series) and Elle Kennedy (Off-Campus series). All of the books in their series take place in the same world, and there is a recurring cast of characters. However, each one deals with a different couple, going through a different set of difficulties. Yes, we see characters from previous books in the series, but they’re still happy. They aren’t dragging out the endless cycle of breaking up and getting back together. They simply pop in and out of the stories from time to time to remind us how adorable and cute they are, and how much we loved reading their story.
Will I read the first book of the The Shaw Confessions? Maybe, maybe not. I was content with the way the Mara Dyer Trilogy ended. I was happy, Noah and Mara were happy, it was all good. I’m not sure I can stand being dragged through their angst for another three (or more) books. I don’t think my curiosity to see the world from Noah’s POV, or their journey to find others like them, is enough to get me to read this book. I don’t want the Mara Dyer Trilogy to be ruined in any way. Luckily, I’ve got until Summer 2017 to decide.