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!