Kernels of Nonsense: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a bimonthly discussion feature where I rant and rave about various book and blogging related topics. This week I want to discuss whether authors writing various series within the same universe is a good or bad thing.

Just this past week Cassandra Clare’s newest novel Lady Midnight was released. I didn’t know too much about it, so I hopped on over to read the synopsis on Goodreads because everyone on Twitter was excited about it. I wasn’t surprised to learn that this new series is a sequel to her immensely popular Mortal Instruments series.

I read the first three books in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series a few years back and overall, I really enjoyed them. When Clockwork Angel, the first in her Infernal Devices series, was published, I was really excited to read it. I ended up feeling more and more underwhelmed as the series went on for various reasons. While this new series was being released, Clare was also working on three more books for her Mortal Instruments series. I never bothered to pick them up because I felt City of Glass was a satisfying conclusion and truth be told, my enthusiasm for the series had begun to dwindle.

Since finishing her Infernel Devices series, I haven’t picked up another Cassandra Clare book. This has less to do with whether I feel that the kind of books she writes no longer fit the type I’m looking for and more to do with the fact that every one of her books seem to take place within the Shadowhunter universe. I’ve grown rather tired of seeing more and more of these books, and am wondering if there will ever be a time where she stops writing Shadowhunter books. Aside from the Mortal Instruments and the Infernel Devices, Clare has also written/contributed to the Bane Chronicles, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and just recently released the first book in her Dark Artifices series. She also has a future series called The Last Hours, the first of which doesn’t have an official release date but will most likely be released later this year. What do all of these books and series have in common? They all take place within the Shadowhunter universe.

I know for superfans, having an author write several series within the same universe is like a dream come true. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’d be over the moon if J.K. Rowling decided to write a prequel and sequel series to Harry Potter. But I’m not a Cassandra Clare superfan, and I’m of the opinion that any author who sticks to one universe can unintentionally alienated potential readers who may be interested in their works but are not a part of that particular fandom.

I would love to pick up another Cassandra Clare book because I would love to see what other worlds she could create, and read about other characters she could conjure up, but this is an impossible feat when all she writes is Shadowhunter books. I know the saying goes “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” but I can’t help but feel like I’d enjoy her more if she would write something outside of this universe.

There aren’t many authors who can get away with writing various novels that take place in the same world. Cassandra Clare is the first name that comes to mind, but I do know that Rick Riordan has many series in the same universe as well. I’m not as familiar with his works, having only read the first Percy Jackson book. I can’t say how I’ll feel about these other series once I finish Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but I do wonder if anyone feels the same way about him as I do about Cassandra Clare. Sometimes I feel that these various novels within the same universe are superfluous.

Leigh Bardugo and Jonathan Maberry are two other authors I know of who have written more than one series within the same universe. I haven’t finished Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, but I’m a huge fan of Six of Crows. Despite my love for the latter, I do hope that Bardugo writes something different in the future because I’m positive she could come up with another epic series that doesn’t take place in the Grisha universe. Maberry’s Benny Imura and Joe Ledger series are two separate zombie series that eventually intersect. I prefer the Benny Imura series and despite enjoying Patient Zero, the first Joe Ledger novel, I’ve never felt the need to finish it because I feel quite satisfied with the former.

Do you ever feel that an author writes too many books within the same universe? Are there any fictional worlds that you would love an author to continually write about? Have you read all of Cassandra Clare or Rick Riordan’s works? What other authors do you know of who have written multiple series that take place in the same universe? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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Slasher Girls & Monster Boys Edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
Editor: April Genevieve Tucholke
Authors: Various
Series: N/A

Ghosts, murderers, and death bring plenty of frights in this horror anthology. Inspired by various mediums from films to classic horror novels to music, these fourteen short stories are filled with thrills, twists, and trepidation. And just when you think you have a story figured out, the surprises are fierce yet strangely satisfying.

“After a while, Richard started getting the distinct impression that someone was watching him sleep. There was a strange weight in his room, as if the furniture or the walls weren’t aligned quite right, and sometimes he would feel that weight press against his chest like a stone.”

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a great collection of horror stories perfect for October. I’m familiar with most of the authors in this anthology, having read books by a large majority of them. Authors like Nova Ren Suma and Jonathan Maberry are sure to bring their personal brand of the strange and thrilling, but I was most impressed by authors like Marie Lu. Best known for her Legend series, Lu weaves together one of my favorite short stories in this book. The Girl Without a Face takes something as simple as a closet that won’t open and turns it into a tale that had me glancing at my own several times, hoping it was empty. April Genevieve Tucholke’s The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh takes you for a ride where you end up rooting against key characters. This is my first reading experience with this author and it won’t be my last.

There were several stories in this anthology which were so good at introducing intriguing characters and exciting storylines that I found myself wanting the authors to turn them into full-length novels. Jonathan Maberry’s Fat Girl with a Knife would make a perfect introduction to a novel about an unlikely heroine battling for survival.  Jay Kristoff’s Sleepless starts off like a cheesy horror-movie where you’re screaming at one of the characters to be smarter, but ends up pulling the rug out from under you and begging for more in the end.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is fantastic for those looking for a quick scare during this Halloween season. While ghosts and killers may be the obvious choice for a horror story, many of these authors select more unconventional characters and what results is a really diverse blend of frightful tales that will surely delight horror fans.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

Exploring My Bookshelves, #2: Scariest Book

shelvesExploring My Bookshelves is an original meme hosted by Addlepates and Book Nerds.

How it works:

1. Post a picture of your bookshelves.

2. Choose a book for the week’s topic.

3. Share the blurb for the book.

4. Share your link on Addlepates and Book Nerds.

 

This week we’re posting our scariest book. I’m not sure I own many scary books, but zombies always provide a fright:

rot

The Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry is my favorite zombie series and I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already.

From Goodreads:

“In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.”

The Friday 56, #14: Rot & Ruin

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join in every Friday, the rules are simple.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.

*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.

*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.

*Post it.

*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

“Tell me something, Benny,” said Tom. “What would you have done if one of your friends…had come to Aunt Cathy’s funeral and took a leak in her coffin?”

Benny was so startled by the question that his answer was unguarded. “I’d have jacked them up. I mean, jacked them up…What kind of question is that, though?”

“Indulge me. Why would you have freaked out on your friends?”

“Because they dissed Aunt Cathy, why do you think?”

“But she’s dead.”

In celebration of Friday the 13th (does one celebrate Friday the 13th?) I decided to spotlight one of my favorite zombie series, the Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry. Here I feature the first book, Rot & Ruin, in the four-book series. Here Tom tries to explain to his little brother why it isn’t okay to desecrate the dead, zombie or not.

From Goodreads:

“In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.”

Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Title: Fire & Ash
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Benny Imura, #4

In the fourth and final installment of Jonathan Maberry’s zombie apocalypse series, Benny Imura and his friends face a final battle against Saint John and the Night Church. Angry and confused over the lack of aide coming from those in charge at Sanctuary and desperate to save their friend Chong, Benny and company must venture into the unknown in search of the lost scientist Monica McReady who may have discovered a cure for the zombie plague. Meanwhile the reapers are devising a deadly plan to eradicate the last of humanity. Benny is pushed to his limits and discovers just how far he’s willing to go to stop Saint John and his army.

“I will paint you with her blood.”

I credit Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin for nurturing my like for zombies and transforming it into a full blown love-affair. The book was not centered around the fear of the dead rising, but around those who survived the cataclysmal event and despite the terrors of the outside world wanted to live. It was a book about growing up and discovering that real evil wasn’t in the reanimation of dead corpses, but in those who treated life and death like a game, who forgot that these walking cadavers were once someone’s loved-ones, and who devalued the life of the living.

And so it seems only fitting that the last confrontation for Benny not be with a horde of zombies, but with the most merciless of all enemies who doesn’t fight for entertainment or notoriety, but for the express purpose of destroying the human race. Saint John stands in direct contrast to Benny and his friends, who push forward with the hope of ending the plague and having a future. I found the leader of the Night Church to be a terrifying antagonist not because of his goal but because of the pleasure his own ruthless rampages produced.

The final change in Benny’s character comes in Fire & Ash and I can’t help but mourn the loss of his innocence. There are times when you see that impulsive, petulant child express itself and I felt something a little like hope. It was hope that if they could find a cure that perhaps Benny could still go back to being that naive kid he was in Rot & Ruin. But the real lesson of Fire & Ash is one of sacrifice, of burning that bridge between childhood and adulthood not because you want to but because you have to in order to defeat an enemy as inhumane as it is relentless.

This series never failed to grab hold of me. My expectations for a satisfactory zombie book are directly linked to these books. I enjoyed every one and am still in shambles over the departure of a certain character. And before I end this review I must give kudos to Jonathan Maberry for The Walking Dead reference. You made me smile.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★