5 Books Suffering From Middle Book Syndrome

After reviewing Wise Man’s Fear yesterday, I’ve started to think about other books that suffer from Middle Book Syndrome. These are books that do not serve the overall plot of a trilogy, feel unnecessary and tend to drag terribly.

  1. Wise Man’s Fear

The_Wise_Man's_Fear_UK_coverI spoke about this in depth in my review yesterday- it has all the symptoms of suffering from Middle Book Syndrome. It’s slow, self-indulgent, repetitive, uneventful and just does not live up to the standard set by the first book. Overall, I was phenomenally disappointed by it- but I am hoping that it is just a prime example of middle book syndrome and that the last book in the series will pick up.


  1. Magic Study

magic studyI’m cheating a little with this one because honestly this series went downhill after the first one, so I don’t know if it really counts as suffering from middle book syndrome. Honestly, I was not a fan of how Magic Study turned out. The first one was so exciting and different- but this one was just a generic fantasy filler (before the ultimately boring, crackpot conclusion that ruined the whole series for me). I could never understand how a series that started out so well became so awful. Having read a lot (6 or 7) of other books by Maria Snyder now, I have little hope that her books will ever recapture the same magic as Poison Study.

  1. PS I Love You

p-s-i-still-love-you-9781442426733_hrOk, technically this isn’t a middle book because it’s the second in a duology (although there is definitely room for it to turn into a trilogy). In my review I talked about how pointless this book was. Although there were still parts I liked (for instance the sister relationships) I really did not like where Han took the romance. Basically, (*mini spoilers*) it felt like Han spent the whole book convincing the reader that the relationship in the first book wasn’t any good, which was pretty depressing, but once she’d convinced me of that she went and reinstated the relationship- and that didn’t make any sense! So yeah, I wasn’t a fan. Other books in the romance genre suffer from similar problems- sometimes that happens because the author is regurgitating a formula that’s already worked, but usually because once the romance has been established they have to invent a fake conflict to keep the reader interested- which never works.

  1. Crossed

crossedGosh there are soo many terrible middle books in YA dystopian books- I feel like it’s almost guaranteed in the genre (possibly because dystopian books aren’t really designed for sequels). I’m using Crossed (Matched 2) as an example because I completely lost interest in this series after book 1 and it because it is filled with non-existent conflict (despite, ironically, being in the middle of a war zone), but I easily could have referred to the Resistance (Declaration 2), Burning Kingdoms (Internment 2), Independent Study (The Testing 2), Prodigy (Legend 2), or The Elite (The Selection). Many of these are prime examples of a dystopian sequel that goes nowhere. In a lot of these books *nothing happens*. Side note: even though Catching Fire is a regurgitation of the first Hunger Games, I still think it is not in this category because it is eventful (if a bit repetitive) and the plot does progress as a result of the things that happen in this book.

  1. Eclipse

EclipsecoverNo one is saying Twilight  is great- but my goodness it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if it had just stopped after book 1- I mean why didn’t Edward just let her become a vampire then and then we’d have all been spared all the creepy paedophile stuff. Though it is the third in the series, this one was ultimately the pits- because (forgive me for being repetitive) *nothing happens*. This book pretty much was just there for Meyer to foist the ridiculously pointless love triangle on us- the whole “plot” revolves around Jacob being confused with the concept of what a third wheel and that Bella is not interested (despite the fact she constantly tells him and even punches him in the face! Jeez- can that guy not take a hint?) This has to be one of the best examples of a book that was just a dumb filler and never needed to happen.

Footnote: if you fancy reading more about Middle Book Syndrome and how to avoid it- this is a great article: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/07/avoiding-middle-book-syndrome-by-django-wexler-author-of-the-price-of-valor/

Alrighty then- hope you enjoyed that! Agree or disagree with my list? What books do you think suffer from Middle Book Syndrome?

61 thoughts on “5 Books Suffering From Middle Book Syndrome

    1. Yeah I didn’t totally hate that one- but I wanted it to be very different and was disappointed by how it turned out. Yeah I’m really not a fan of the Matched series- the first one is alright- but the series as a whole is pretty dreadful :/ Thanks very much for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Good topic! In the case of some (many) book series, there seems to be an unfortunate rush to expand what could have been a great standalone book into a series just for the sake of capitalizing on the financial gains of keeping readers buying books with the same beloved characters. Also, in a way, it’s understandable that middle books might drift, just like the middle act of novels often do. It’s hard to sustain momentum. In answer to your question, I hate to admit it, but Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy also suffers from Middle Book Syndrome. The second book felt empty compared with the promise of the first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much! Oh definitely! Some book series just go on for ever just for the sake of it :/ Yeah it is understandable- it’s just frustrating- some authors manage to be really good at avoiding it though- which is good. Ahh that’s a fair one- I didn’t hate that so much- but I can definitely see your point!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently read The infinite sea by Rick Yancey which has middle book syndrome unfortunately because I liked first so much.

    I read Twilight, but disliked that so much that I didn’t read anymore and refused to watch the films. It’s not just the plot, but illogicality of some things in it.

    It’s been awhile since I’ve read the book so there may be a reason, but I never understood how all those ‘vampires’ with seemingly no weaknesses don’t become top species. Survival of the fittest and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear- I’ve still not read that series, but thanks for the heads up
      You were smart not to continue!! I made the mistake of reading them all :/ Yes- it’s totally illogical and dumb and just plain awful 😦
      yeah exactly- also they can’t die. But obviously Meyer’s explanation that their sparkly skin keeps them out of the sunlight makes so much sense as an explanation *heavy sarcasm* Gosh it’s the most ridiculous story!

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  3. Overall, I think you’re accurate in the assumption that many YA sequals are lack-luster. I’m reading book 2 in a YA action adventure series and it’s kind of a carbon copy of the first, but this I don’t think was meant to be anything more. Awww. I loved the whole Matched series! In my opinion, 3rd books are 99% always disappointing. I feel like even in Matched, the 3rd book could’ve been better. The action slowed down, people almost died but it was rather slow and the 2 romantic interests were always apart, though they got back together it took FOREVER. But I really liked Crossed! It had the most action. The 1st book was great 🙂 As for Hunger Games; I LOVED book 2. I felt like the insanity that Katmiss was going through shone through more. Her traumatic experiences were definitely catching up to her. I feel like the 3rd book failed horribly and miserably. It could have been SO much better than it was. It was extremely disappointing and the ending felt very rushed. So sad b/c I still like the series. Now I need to catch up on some of the other YA dydstopians.

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    1. yeah that happens a lot sadly! that’s fair enough 🙂 I should’ve known it wasn’t for me from book one cos I wasn’t crazy about the concept (and I don’t like love triangles very much). Oh me too- that’s why I was saying it doesn’t suffer from middle book syndrome- even though a lot of people say it does. It really advances the plot and has a lot of character development (particularly for Katniss like you said). Yeah it wasn’t a successful finale- but that’s because YA dystopias spend too much time trying to undo the worlds they created- which is why it doesn’t work very well. And you’re totally right- it felt rushed! I’ve read wayyy too many of them- I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of them for a while tbh!


  4. Great post! Drives me nuts when you have a great first book, and then get dragged down by the second. Just found that with Red Queen and Glass Sword. I did think Catching Fire avoided the middle book syndrome because it really did set ups some new characters and advance the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Me too!! Yeah I remember you said so in your review- that is such a shame :/ Totally agree!! It really was a good way to build on the first book and advance the plot- it was because of that book that Collins was able to expand the world and she could create the idea of an upcoming war. And I loved the new characters- finnick was my favourite

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  5. So many books fall into the Middle Book category it’s not even funny, but sometimes that helps me with the hype of the next book I might’ve built. Great topic, although I haven’t read any of these books except Eclipse (:/ I don’t know if I wanna even mention that).

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      1. It really can be – I feel bad for the books that have a Middle Book plus a bad ending. You’re welcome 🙂 I’m sure it was difficult, me merely mentioning it had my fingers aching haha.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have this theory that the creepy I’m-in-love-with-a-baby storyline was really Meyer’s response to the plethora of readers who were not fans of the Bella-Edward romance. (Although as far as pedophilic relationships go, Edward and Bella’s is no exception – he looks 17, but he’s really more than a century old. And he’s purposefully hanging out with a 16-year-old girl and encouraging her romantic and sensual feelings for him, which, if he looked his age, everyone would completely agree is definitely inappropriate (as well as illegal in the US). So if you take pedophilia out of Twilight, you no longer have Twilight.)

    But I feel like Meyer shipped Belledward so hard that she decided to punish the Jabellas, by turning Jacob into an even creepier pedophile. I mean, who lusts after a baby? Now the readers have to ship Belledward too. #conspiracytheories

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hahaha that is the most amazing twilight analysis I’ve ever read- you are 100% right of course. Edward is sooo creepy and definitely paedophilic! He’s also, in my opinion, a massive creep and a stalker. So it’s not exactly a good relationship. Haha yeah- that is the best conspiracy theory I’ve ever heard- cos I’m convinced it’s right. The only way to justify Edward’s behaviour throughout all 4 books was to have him creep after a baby (you’re right- seriously- who does that??) so that she could say “see I didn’t make Bella end up with that psycho”. Gosh- the more you talk about them- the more disturbing those books become- I just want to hide away from the world and forget they existed!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great list. There is a tendency to ‘fill’ when it comes to second books, which can lead to major annoyances on the part of the reader. Sadly, I’d have to add The Infinite Sea to this list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Oh definitely! It’s a terrible shame and really annoying- cos it often doesn’t reflect a book series as a whole. That’s a shame- someone else has mentioned that- I’ve not read it though- is the series as a whole good? or not worth it?


  8. Agree that P.S I Still Love You suffered from the middle book syndrome. It felt like it was a repeat of the first book in some ways.

    Sad that Magic Study felt flat for you. I LOVED Poison Study last year and I’m excited to continue on with the trilogy. It’ll be interesting to see if I feel the same or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Off the top of my head, I can think of: Glass Sword (one of the shittiest books I’ve had the displeasure of reading), Siege and Storm (at least the 60% I read before I gave up), and Insurgent (although I still enjoyed it…somewhat)

    But some books that beat second book syndrome: Crown of Midnight, Firefight, and Catching Fire.

    Great post!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no!! That is such a shame!! Oh I was not a fan of the Shadow and Bone series and have made no secret of it- basically every book it’s like Bardugo thought “I’m going to make this new and original… just kidding!”- 2/3 of every single one seemed interesting and then she reverted to generic fantasy mode, where the Darkling- surprise surprise, turned out to be evil.
      (Sorry for the mini rant- that series reallllly gets me going)
      Yeah Insurgent is not great- the only reason it’s not on this list is a) cos there are worse books and b) cos I didn’t like the first book enough for the second one to be a letdown :/
      Yes yes definitely! I’m planning to do a follow up post on books that are better sequels- and Crown of Midnight will definitely be in it (if there’s room Catching Fire will be too) I’ve read Steelheart and wasn’t crazy about it- is Firefight better?
      Thanks so much!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think i gave shadow and bone 4 stars, i liked it. especially the darkling. But alina and mal together was awful and i couldn’t push myself through the 2nd books.

        And the divergent trilogy holds a special place in my heart. It was basically the book that got me into reading YA.

        And totally do that post! I might do one too hehe. And Firefight was fantastic! But Steelheart was fantastic in my mind too… so XD

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I liked the Darkling too- but was disappointed by the turn the book took at the end (I know I’m the minority in this opinion :p ) I absolutely hated that she ended up with Mal- I wanted her to be with the Darkling too.
          Oh really- wow- I understand that!
          I’m working on it 😀 hehe you should!! 🙂
          Awesome there’s a good chance I’ll check it out cos I was interested in the twist at the end of the book.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Yeah it is so disappointing when a middle book let’s you down… and it seems to happen so often. Interesting you picked Eclipse for the Twilight series because I actually felt more let down/bored by ‘New Moon’ (though none of the sequels thrilled me). I agree with you that it was a story that should have been left at book 1… once the initial romance was over it kind of lost its appeal it had and started getting weird. I enjoyed the first book so kept going with it but wasn’t really into any of the others.

    On the flip side, occasionally you get lucky and find a 2nd book/middle book being better than a first. For example, I just finished ‘Days of Blood & Starlight’ and I loved it more than I loved ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’. Maybe it’s just my personal preference here, but I found the first one had a few little things that annoyed me/felt a tad cliché (but it was still great!), whereas this second one was so gripping and brilliant and original… I just loved it and couldn’t fault it. I was also so impressed that a 2nd book could be that good, especially in a series with a continuing romance like that – going to start on book 3 tomorrow! Oh, I also prefer ‘Fire’ to ‘Graceling’ in the Graceling series (though both were awesome)… however I’ve had friends disagree with me, so again might just be my preference!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. haha yeah- I wanted to look at the positive side 🙂 Yes there are!! I couldn’t include all the ones that I wanted to so just went for ones that improved on the first one- otherwise this would’ve been impossibly long- but there are *loads* of middle books out there that don’t disappoint!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh New Moon is dreadful! I just think more stuff actually happens (if you could call that a plot) yeah it gets really weird (not that it starts out totally normal :/ )
      Oh definitely- I loved that series as a whole (I did a list of middle books that didn’t disappoint- and the only reason I didn’t include it was that I decided to do books that I preferred to the first one) I just love all of that series- cos I love how she sets up the cliche and then turns it on its head- it’s such a brilliant series!! And I definitely agree- romances in particular struggle, like you said, but Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the exception. Ah I liked Graceling but for some reason couldn’t connect with Fire at all :/ I honestly don’t know why.


      1. Yes a friend of mine also said she didn’t really like Fire, but loved Graceling. Was so odd to me because I adored Fire! Just the concept of her being so beautiful/enchanting she either drove people mad or made them smitten, and then the beautiful but deadly monsters, and then the romance that started out prickly but grew… I don’t know, the character and story just appealed to me. Guess everyone has their own personal preferences!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I loved your review of The Wise Man’s fear. It was so completely accurate. Kvothe turned into someone young and relatable into a goddess who spends all his time “cavorting” < direct quote – with a sex goddess. I don't even know anymore. I read it so long ago and the THIRD BOOK HASN'T EVEN COME OUT YET GRRRRR (angry face) so I'll have to read both the first and the second book again when it's announced the third book will be out (IF IT EVER IS GRRR).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much!! Exactly- I felt the exact same way. I don’t know why Rothfuss took it in that direction. (Also I think I read a review somewhere where someone said his editor only gave the condition to not make it too long to be put in book form- so I think one of the main issues was lack of editorial control- a lot of that needed to be cut). I still want to read more though! I know- I’m hoping he doesn’t do a george r r martin on us!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post! 😀 I completely agree with you on Twilight! I wasn’t really much of a fan of the first two books, but Eclipse was just painful. And it’s actually one of about 5 or 6 books I have ever left unfinished in my life. I just couldn’t make myself read to the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I totally agree with PS I Love You – I enjoyed it (wish) but reading your comment I remembered just how much the secondary romance/second male lead frustrated me. It was just unnecessary, and I think it could have just worked as a stand-alone.

    AND ECLIPSE, OH MY GOD. That was the book in which Bella practically spent the whole time just crying over losing Edward. D:

    Liked by 1 person

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