What do all recent or current young adult books have in common? Maybe you’re thinking a strong female protagonist, a love triangle, or even vampires. But while these things are running rampant in YA literature at the moment, the one thing that all genres of YA have in common is that they are trilogies.
Think about it. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Selection, Graceling, Grave Mercy, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Legend, The Maze Runner, and almost any other popular YA novel. They come in threes. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. After all, my favorite book in the entire world—Lord of the Rings—is a trilogy. Though Tolkien did write it as one book. My real problem with YA trilogies is that books two and three are completely, wholly, and entirely unnecessary.
I recently finished Ruin and Rising, the third and final book of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy. While it was nice to have closure for the characters and the plot, to see the story come to an end, it lit the flame of my annoyance at YA trilogies. Why? Because absolutely nothing new happened in this book. The exact same things that happened in book 1 AND 2 happened in book 3. Alina struggled with her feelings for more than one guy. The bad guy caught her and one of these guys. They escaped to live and fight another day. This same plot progression happened in ALL THREE BOOKS. The entire trilogy could have happened in one book if Bardugo had the right editor.
Most YA trilogies could be boiled down to one book if editors actually bothered about tightening up a story. I don’t know if it’s a problem with the decline of technical writing in America, a money thing, or just a trend, but so many trilogies just seem unnecessary. If you can write a stellar story in one book, do it. Don’t use ten words when one will do. Don’t draw out the plot until it’s so thin the reader can’t even see it anymore.
In the end, it’s probably a loss of technical writing, a money thing, and a trend, but I wish it would stop. I can’t read any more third books with that much plot and character repetition. If you’re making me read a second or a third or even a fourth book, you better have something new to throw at me. Otherwise hone your editing skills and get your manuscript down to one book.