The End. The End?

I recently finished Marissa Meyer’s delectable YA series, “The Lunar Chronicles.” Or so I thought.

Originally planned as a quartet with one book per fairytale heroine: “Cinder,” “Scarlet,” “Cress,” and “Winter,” a prequel, “Fairest,” got added between books three and four. That was all well and good with me, it was actually interesting to read how the evil queen got evil.

But then, on closing the pages of “Winter,” I learn not only about a book of short stories, “Stars Above,” which Meyer herself views as “The End” but also spinoff graphic novel series focusing on an (admittedly awesome) side character.

Cool. Cool. I will read your short stories — because I honestly do love the series — and I’ll probably read the graphic novels too. Just one question: When is it actually going to end?

Seriously, not complaining. I was the one who went to your signing last fall and fangirled terribly. The type of fangirling where you find yourself both unable to form coherent sentences and unable to stop talking. You were incredibly kind and gracious.

But where will it end? I’m not sure if I can sustain the tension.

And it’s not just Meyer whose success has triggered an avalanche of sequels and tie-ins. For instance, there’s Kiera Cass, whose original Selection trilogy I wrote up in “What YA novels taught me about how America will be destroyed” (Still one of my favorite columns ever, http://bit.ly/21sbDym). Then she published four tie-in stories in a companion book, “Happily Ever After.” Then, suddenly, there was a sequel series following the children of the characters in the first series consisting of “The Heir” and what I’m told is the fifth and final book, “The Crown,” due out in May. Right, “fifth and final.” I’ll believe it when I see it.

I mean, I get it. I love what you guys do and it seems to be working for you too but don’t you ever worry about diminishing returns. I’m talking about the Tolkien Conundrum: One good book in “The Hobbit,” one astonishing series in “The Lord of the Rings.” But then he couldn’t leave Middle Earth and we were stuck with such works as “The Silmarrillion” and “The Children of Húrin.”*

We get it. Some of us never want the story to end, but if each succeeding work has a decreasing literary value, maybe it’s time to move on to fresher pastures? Or is it possible for a writer to get stuck in one imaginary world and never, ever move out?

But then there’s the opposite problem, what I will call the J.K. Rowling Experience: Nobody really likes her other work as much. Sure “A Casual Vacancy” and her three Cormoran Strike mysteries have sold millions, but they’re frequently met with disdain by a press and fans still moon-struck by Harry Potter.

Is it any wonder then that she has moved back into the world of Harry Potter with the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” movie series — her screenwriting debut — and the highly-anticipated “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a play being billed as the 8th story (a collaboration between her, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne).

I know I for one met the announcement with childish glee and went eagerly to Hearthside to pre-order my copy of the script (release date: July 31). And even as I stood there browsing, I overheard the employees debating whether a midnight release party was merited nine years after Harry Potter 7, an argument in which I weighed in decidedly for. (Come on Hearthside, I never got to go to them as a kid! I want to dress up as Harry or better yet, come in my house colors — Ravenclaw rules!)

So maybe Meyer can’t win either way, if she keeps extending the story or tries her hand at something new. Speaking of which, her new novel “Heartless” is a standalone take on a young Queen of Hearts and will come out this November.

 

* Admittedly, this isn’t Tolkien’s fault but the fault of his estate which decided to posthumously publish everything he’d written about Middle-earth regardless of its state or worth.

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