Examining the "second book slump" among authors of young adult novels
Ratings from Goodreads show a trend of decreasing quality over the course of popular story lines.
By Oyinkansola Awosika - April 7, 2020
Many readers know the feeling: It’s been a long year since you finished an amazing first novel in what could easily be your new favorite book series. After months of anticipation, you get your hands on the sequel only to realize that it doesn’t quite measure up to its predecessor.
This feeling is sometimes referred to in the book writing community as the “second book slump.” It may be that authors feel nervous after publishing a well-received book, due to the pressure of reader expectations. One author described it as a lack of inspiration due to strict deadlines. “When you have a deadline looming over you, there’s no time for inspiration,” wrote British author Ayisha Malik in the Irish Times. Unfortunately for readers, this lack of inspiration is sometimes evident in the final product.
In an effort to examine the prevalence of the sophomore slump, CNS compiled average ratings for a number of young adult series from Goodreads.com. Goodreads users rate books on a five-star review scale, with five stars being the highest score and one star the lowest. Using the average star ratings as a measure of success over the course of several young adult series, we’ll examine this idea of the second book slump from a reader's perspective.
In the past 20 years, the young adult fiction genre has exploded with new titles. Some of the most popular include "Harry Potter," "The Twilight Saga," "The Hunger Games," "Uglies" and "Divergent."
Young adult literature in the 1970’s, like S. E. Hinton’s The "The Outsiders" and Robert Lipsyte’s "The Contender," portrayed the challenges that adolescents faced in stories that were realistic and captivating. During the 1980’s, young adult novels started incorporating elements from horror and fantasy. By the time J. K. Rowling’s "Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone" hit the shelves in 1997, young readers were primed and ready for a book series that broke out of the barriers of realism. In the following years, the genre known as "YA" exploded with a multitude of new book series.
Some of the most popular book series were "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer, "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, "Percy Jackson and The Olympians" by Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare’s "The Mortal Instruments", Richelle Mead’s "Vampire Academy", and "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner. Young readers raved over these novels upon their release and many were adapted for television and film.
As the popularity of these novels increased, some readers complained that the quality of the novels over the course of a series seemed to decrease. Below, we will examine a number of popular YA series released in the last 20 years to see if data supports these reader complaints.
"Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld is the first novel in a popular YA science fiction series. This dystopian series is set in a futuristic society in which everyone is considered ugly until the age of 16. At this age, they undergo surgery to enhance their features to fit into the societal standards of beauty.
"Uglies" series ratings on GoodReads
Click on a book title to see selected reviews
"Though I liked this book just fine, I would not say this book is amazing. It was a decent way to pass the time. My biggest criticism: I wish the main character was a bit more likable--she's a traitor, and I think we're supposed to forgive her, but I don't really want to. And I think she's supposed to be really really smart, too, but...Nah. My biggest "wowie" moment: The technology is pretty cool. And except for the brainwashing, I guess it might be sorta fun to live in that kind of a society--everything is recycled and solar powered, and I don't think anyone needs money to buy stuff. It's just, ask and you shall receive. The lazy man's person's ultimate fantasy." -Amanda
"I found this narrative to be cliched, predictable, rushed and forced. The characters are one-dimensional and the world-building poor. The plot was weak. For lack a of a better word, this book was basic, lacking character. The pace needed to be amped up. I had a hard time believing that these situations unfolded in the time frame in which they did. There was nothing standout about Tally, Shay, David (the aforementioned teen boy/love interest) or any of the characters. I needed this book to have more substance. What I did like about this book was the intial concept. It seemed too simple at first but it is actually a strong concept and the reason why this book got two stars instead of just one. It was a quick read and entertaining in spots but overall the execution was poor. I do not intend on reading further in this series. " -Stephanie Anze
"This book, man. I cannot tell you how much I love the Uglies series. It still is my favorite dystopian world, and while that's probably largely due to the fact that the rest of the world has yet to discover it, I would love it even if it became the next Twilight (most likely - okay, that's a little far). While not my favorite in the series (that special honor goes to Specials and even Extras), it picked me up and threw me into a world that it so complicated and intriguing I cannot stop thinking about it. It really puts into perspective how much our world is obsessed with image and perfection. " -Erin
"I'm pretty disappointed with this book. The last one was pretty good but this one... not so great. They kept using this stupid pretty language that annoyed me to no end. If i hear that anything is "Bogus, bubbly, pretty-making, fashion-missing" ect. EVER again, i might have to strangle that person. Besides the annoying slang, the main character is now a complete twit. She is a "Pretty" sure, but she made some really stupid decisions. The worst was at the end. She picked the WRONG guy. and that's all i'm going to say on that subject." -Kristina
"Just like "Uglies," "Pretties" is an entertaining read. Tally's adventures continue as she becomes pretty and fights to regain her awareness. We meet some new characters, including Tally's new love interest. The story moves fast and gets more intense in the third part of the book. Like many mentioned before, the "pretty talk" gets annoying. There is only so many times you can take the word "bubbly" repeated. But I guess the author was trying to create a "pretty language" indicative of the slow pretty thinking...This series, though entertaining, still lacks something for me. I think this "something" is emotional depth and intensity of feeling. There are some other authors (Suzanne Collins and Neal Shusterman, for example) who can convey emotions much better than Westerfeld, in my opinion." -Tatiana
"What a stellar second novel! Not once throughout this entire book did I feel anything less than pure pleasure reading. This dystopian novel really takes you into this world and when going back into reality, almost seems like the made up story. the character development in pretties is spectacular and although I may not always agree with the characters decisions, they are all genuine, realistic, believable, and understandable. The way that Scott Westerfeld creates this story without any cliches is so admirable and so praiseworthy. I thought uglies was great, but pretties is at a whole new level. I'm so excited to read the next book and see what new twist and turns Westerfeld will introduce and how such an original story will develop in the next two books." -Stephanie
"What happened? It wasn't the greatest series I'd ever read but c'mon! Did they give him time? It was worse the the third movie sequel that shouldn't have had a second. Where do I begin with this train wreck? There wasn't one story line that was wrapped up. The plot was thrown together so hastily and it left more holes (and was as deep as) an 80's John Hughes film. The ONE character I thought was interesting barely featured and fizzled out pathetically... so much potential! Also, the ending was the WORST! I mean, it didn't have to be happy- dystopia and all- I would have settled for a suicide in hopeless despair or a reconditioning to the status quo, but no! I think it was supposed to leave the reader hopeful but it was just stupid and wrong on all levels and did not make sense to the purpose of the entire series! The writing became too contrived and redundant and self-defeating and preachy and contradictory and redundant (did I say that?) and amateur and BAD. So disappointing!" -Bethany
"WHAT A FANTASTIC FINALE! WOW! I read Uglies at the beginning of this year and really enjoyed it.. later on I read Pretties and was really disappointed. It took me a while to get around to Specials, but boy am I glad I did because I enjoyed it so much! It had all of the action, emotion, moral dilemma, character development, and great story-telling as the first one! I won't say too much more since I'm planning a review video, but I was so happy with this finale to the trilogy! YAY!" -Ariel
"Um, I am very sad to say that this book really didn't leave me as fullfilled as the last two. Not even close. I was so excited for everything to be resolved, and it just didn't happen very nicely. The whole book was great, very exciting and fun, then the ending came, one tiny aspect of the ending, and ruined everything!! And by tiny aspect, I really mean HUGE aspect. I hated that ending! Endings are very important to me, they can ruin a book for me, which is what happened here." -Tawny Gause
"Honestly, this book was kind of a disappointment. I liked how it was all accumulated around the Japanese society, but other than that, I was expecting much more of this book. In my opinion, Aya is a very whiny, self-absorbed suck up. I don't like the way Scott Westerfeld portrays Tally in this either because he renders her as a know-it-all b word, to say the least. Which, I don't think Tally has ever been. Her character is not put to justice in this book." -Paige
"I am just going to pretend that this book doesn't exist! ALIENS????? ALIENS??????? ALIENS?????????? That's a cruel joke. I got so pissed I erased it off my Kindle.It's one of the few books I have abandoned in my life but it was spoiling the thrill and excitement that had built up in me. It's such a disappointing ending to the Uglies series - as if a completely different person came up with it. Even the writing is not at paar with the previous books. The action is abrupt. At one moment the characters are talking and all of a sudden they are on hoverboards which came out of nowhere and running away from ALIENS. ALIENS??????????? "Extras" is the first book I give one star and am not guilt-ridden about it." -Mery
"I loved this book, and it followed the story of Tally, but from a completely different viewpoint. You saw her how other people saw her, instead of how she sees herself. You also get to meet other people in this world, and see how they adapt to accept all the new things that are happening. It is also surprising how similar the world was to modern day society, considering this is a dystopian novel.
I would recommend this book to basically anyone and please do give it a chance, because it is a really great book. The whole point of the book is that the characters a whiny and self-absorbed, but as you read the book they all develop into much better characters. And before reading the book remember: Tally has changed." -Mia
The first novel in the "Uglies" series has an average rating of 3.86 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.com. "Though I liked this book just fine, I would not say this book is amazing. It was a decent way to pass the time,” said one Goodreads reviewer. The second book in the series, "Pretties," was not far behind with an average rating of 3.85. By the end of the series, Westerfeld’s "Extras" earned an average rating of 3.59 stars. “It's such a disappointing ending to the Uglies series - as if a completely different person came up with it,” complained Mery on Goodreads.com. With many other readers sharing similar sentiments, the series saw a 5% decrease in average ratings over the course of four books.
Veronica Roth’s "Divergent" trilogy had a promising start. Set in a dystopian society in Chicago, "Divergent" followed Beatrice Prior as she navigated a world where people were divided by characteristics into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. At the age of 16, members of this society participate in a choosing ceremony during which they select a faction and then participate in an initiation process. Those who fail the initiation process are declared factionless and are condemned to life of poverty, homelessness and isolation.
"Divergent" trilogy ratings on GoodReads
Click on a book title to see selected reviews
"Divergent is good entertainment. I liked it, I was engaged in the story, I was even excited quite often. But something was missing for me. The novel has good characters, but they are not quite as interesting and compelling as they could have been; it has a lot of action, but the justification for the amount of violence involved is not quite adequate; it has a cute romance, but it never quite makes your heart contract in that sweet, painful way (you know what I am talking about, don't you?); the concept of factions is a unique one but not quite plausible; the explanation what a Divergent actually is is not quite climactic; finally, except for one plot twist (p 415), the story takes a rather predictable road." -Tatiana
"I have to say, I had an absolute blast reading this wild ride of an adventure, and I enjoyed every minute of it. EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE! I haven’t had this sort of rush since Katniss entered the Hunger Games and turned my world right side out! The characters, setting, plot, pace and narrative where perfectly blended to produce a highly action packed novel that I’m sure will captivate dystopia fans. I’ve found a series that will keep me eager for the coming releases, and I can’t wait to read more of Tris and her crew of Divergents!" -Arlene
"First, the simplifying of people to 5 concepts seems so bizarre and unrealistic. No one person can fit into a single trait with no blending into others. Being honest requires being brave. Being selfless is brave. Being brave requires intelligence and knowledge of certain aspects. Realisticly, all people would end up divergent because we're more complicated then a single trait.
Second, to prevent war... they split themselves into conflicting groups? what. War happens between people of oppossing groups, beliefs, and ideas. Splitting themselves into groups instead of trying to unify under a certain idea sounds like they want war. How convenient for the book. It doesnt make any damn sense.
The world building is a train-wreck and I didn't feel connected to the characters enough to really want to continue the series. Amusing, good concept, terrible execution. I will not be reading the rest of the series." -Dakota★Magic in Every Book
"I seriously had this intense feeling that Insurgent will specifically disappoint me and the book did just that. I mean, where should I even start? The plot itself revolved around all of them simply running from one faction to another and getting attacked every single time. It was endlessly boring and it failed to grab my attention. I know Roth was trying to built up hype for the main event in the end, but oh Lord did everything before that looked like a desperate attempt to cover up pages for the sake of the brilliant plot twist near the end." -Saniya
"Pretty good book with a decent flow and lots of action. The romance was over powering and I find triss is a bit of an annoying character but I actually like the series. I also thought the ending was great and definitely makes me want to finish out the trilogy. Divergent is the better book in my opinion as insurgent kind of dragged on through the middle. However still a great novel, second books of trilogies seem to always be a bit worse off but this one actually stayed true to the course. Looking forward to the third." -Jeff
"Insurgent was even better than Divergent. There was a lot more to complicated human relationships and the lengths that people will go for what they feel is right. Tris showed an understanding for those outside of herself and it was hard to read about her PTSD and how things seemed to be crumbling around her. New betrayals were insane and I can't believe the book left me on such a cliff hanger ahhhh. I loved this book though, well done Veronica Roth! 5 stars" -Brittany
"The book starts off with this epigraph from the Erudite faction manifesto "Every question that can be answered must be answered or at least engaged. Illogical thought processes must be challenged when they arise." And then fantastically misses the mark. Allegiant was so chock full of plot holes, unrealistic situations, contrived character "development", laughable explanations, and a whole load of "wtf" moments. And that's not even including the disastrous ending of this book. How this book managed to have an epigraph about being logical is a complete mystery to me." -Blair
"I loved this book. I loved all three books in this series and I believe that the GR rating is extremely unfair. Then again, I get it, folks. It was a tough one. This novel was as thrilling and emotional as the first two. I loved every minute of it and can't criticise a single thing. Veronica Roth is one of my favourite and most hyped authors and I can't wait to read what she'll write after this trilogy. She writes like a champion, creates thrill and suspense that leaves me wrecked and makes my heart beat fast and faster. Her characters are complicated and and emotional, brave and broken, but most of all real and relatable. Now I get why so many of you wanted to throw that book across the room and repeatedly kick it. I can't exactly tell you that I was happy. But I was satisfied. It was a fitting conclusion to this amazing story." -Kai
"Don't read this book unless you like plots going nowhere, wasted character potential, dual POV that feels like a single POV, bad decisions made by everyone, and just an all round boring book that will leave you saying "well that was a waste of time" -Alex
The first book in the series averages 4.20 stars on Goodreads. Readers loved Beatrice Prior, the novel’s strong female protagonist. By the second book, "Insurgent," the average rating dropped to 4.04. The series finale, "Allegiant," tanked with an average rating of 3.63 stars.
"Don't read this book unless you like plots going nowhere, wasted character potential, dual POV that feels like a single POV, bad decisions made by everyone, and just an all round boring book that will leave you saying ‘well that was a waste of time’," said one reader in their Goodreads.com review of "Allegiant."
The Hunger Games
Another series that left many readers feeling unsatisfied with the final novel was Suzanne Collins’ "The Hunger Games." The series is set in Panem – a post-apocalyptic version of North America – where society is divided in twelve districts, each serving a specific purpose in contributing to the economy. To keep the districts under submission, there is an annual battle royal “game” in which a boy and a girl from each district fight to the death. This trilogy follows Katniss Everdeen from District 12 after she volunteers to play in her sister’s place.
"The Hunger Games" trilogy ratings on GoodReads
Click on a book title to see selected reviews
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games Reviews
"THE HUNGER GAMES is a fantastic, breathless and somewhat brutal read that once you start you simply can’t put down again. Initially I had no idea what this book was about or what to expect in terms of YA writing, it had just been recommended to me by so many people and had such a buzz surrounding it that I had to find out for myself why. Well let me say I was not disappointed and have now joined the legions of Suzanne Collins fans in awaiting her next instalment.
Written along the lines of Stephen King’s The Long Walk or Orwell’s 1984 (I may be aging myself here) this story still feels very original and sucked me in completely with its modern day Survivor-esque retelling. The Hunger Games is the ultimate in reality TV, suspense, scripted realism, romance and survival that you should not miss." -Buggy
"I sat down to this book prepared to be captivated in its pages. But I was disappointed. I was always expecting that finally the author would show her genius and knock me off my feet. But it never happened. Yes, it was exciting and entertaining. But it wasn't a truly great book. I could not stop comparing this to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Like Fahrenheit 451, it was a dystopian novel set in the future, but Fahrenheit 451 had significant symbolism on every page, paragraph, and even half the sentences. I was so scared because it was so life-like and realistic. I could see how undeniably prophetic Bradbury was and how we are slowly, ever so slowly, slipping closer and closer to that world. I saw the similarities of the worlds; I felt inspired to stop us from falling into that trap too.
But The Hunger Games never provoked me to think or inspired me to act. It was like a roller-coaster. You get on and momentarily take an exciting spin. But that's all. You're just taken there. You're not drawn in. You don't have to do anything. You just sit there and your stomach flops over and over as opposed to your mind working, thinking, puzzling, imagining." -Tessa
"Let's make it simple... it may be young adult, and it may be fantasy, but neither of those facts matter when you have a set of richly flawed characters, a plot that is an absolute play on "survival of the fittest" and imagery so vivid it jumps off the proverbial page...You can't not read it. You may not absolutely LOVE it, but it will capture your attention in many ways." -James
Catching Fire Reviews
"This is most possibly the WORST (or best depending what you go on) cliffhanger I have encountered in all my reading days. It leaves you more than just hanging, you are grasping for your life on a thread that is fraying and there is nothing to do but hold on (well metaphorically of course). One word that can sum up this book is intense . Everything is just felt more. The compassion, threats, action, betrayal, gestures, words all of it. This has to be the reason why it is so addictive. As expected from this series we are in for a ride. Some things are hinted out, but the full affect of what is going on isn't totally revealed till the very end. Though I felt frustrated at times this is a grand slam of a sequel." -Cara
"catching fire is the sloppy follow-up to hunger games, which seems to have been written in the frenzied fever of the author's realization that she had a megahit on her hands. the pacing is way off, the plotting is mechanical, the characterization is lazy, and the 'game' section is just lame. and the big reaping twist at the mid-point? it just sits there. it just happens and we're rushed in, totally pushing aside anything genuinely interesting for the sake of plot! plot! plot! it's actually kind of a shame b/c collins is terrific at coming up with story & plot elements, she's just kinda inept at assembling and executing 'em. yeah, i'm in the minority in this opinion... but i'm right.
"I was impressed with the first half of the book which did not try copy the first book’s pattern, but instead put Katniss into a new situation of reluctantly trying to carry out Snow‘s commands to help quash the burgeoning political discontent. There was a lot that could have been done with Katniss in that role, and the book seemed poised to follow through with that story. Unfortunately, Collins chickened out and decided that the readers wouldn’t be happy unless Katniss was back in the arena.
So while the new death match is a bigger and badder version of what we saw in The Hunger Games, it ends up seeming familiar and a letdown kind of like The Hangover Part II. (“It’s the same story as before, but this time it’s in Thailand!!”)
I was far more interested in the idea of Katniss evolving from terrified political pawn into the revolutionary that she seems destined to be than I was in seeing her once again fight for her life. Hopefully, that’s what I’ll get in the third book." -Kemper
"Words can't begin to express my disappointment. I bought Mockingjay the first day it came out and I was preparing myself for a truly epic novel, one worthy of its predecessors. I loved The Hunger Games; it was fast-paced, thrilling, suspenseful. Catching Fire wasn't as good but it was still enjoyable (I was majorly impressed by the game arena). I wasn't let down by Catching Fire though; I figured it was just a transition novel, build-up to what would undoubtedly be a mindblowing, epic conclusion in Mockingjay. Maybe I set my expectations too high. I do think Collins is a good writer; she definitely knows how to write and tell a story. But I feel like she lost her way in this book. Or maybe the only thing that made this series so great was the Hunger Games, and now that it's absent, there's nothing to drive the story.
"Everything she did here is beautiful, even, at times, poetic. I love that she didn’t glorify the rebels, and I love the image of communism she gives as much as her version of capitalism. It makes sense that she published this story in three parts, but I think it could also be read as one whole. I love her characters and her thoughtful messages. I love the way her relationships fall apart and grow back together. I almost had to stop reading this book partway through because it was too painful. But I think it was a stern talking-to that I needed. This story real or not real? For me, real." -Meredith Holley
"This book is a page turner; the revolution is in full swing. Katniss must accept the responsibility of becoming the Mockingjay the symbol of the revelation. The main problem I have with this book is similar to the first book many of the battle scenes do not make sense to me, they are as confused as Katniss' mental state. As interesting as the book was to read I just could not give it 5 stars simply for the confusion of so many of the scenes. Other thing that do not make sense is the rebels are using machine guns on the hover crafts but it is not till Gale and Katness with bow and arrows (exploding arrows) start shooting the things down that they start to do any damage. How do you miss with a machine gun? Apart from this moment Katniss is pretty inept in most of the battles, a bit disappointing. There are many twists and turns and everyone has their agenda, these keep things interesting. The thing the author got right is Katniss herself, she is forced to grow up and harden herself to the world, but her emotions have not quite caught up. The good thing about this is there is a definitive ending." -Khurram
The first and second book both received raving reviews with an average rating of 4.33 and 4.29 stars respectively, but the last novel in the series did not seem to be as impressive. “Words can't begin to express my disappointment,” said one reviewer of Mockingjay. The average rating for this installment is a 4.03 stars, a .36 star decrease from its predecessor.
Not all book series experience a steep decrease in quality over time. J.K. Rowling’s "Harry Potter" series managed to remain excellent from start to finish, according to Goodreads readers’ ratings. These novels told the story of an 11-year-old orphan who discovers that he is a powerful wizard. He enrolls in wizardry school, known as Hogwarts, where he makes new friends (and enemies), develops his magic powers, and realizes his destiny of defeating a powerful villain who shall not be named.
"Harry Potter" book ratings on GoodReads
Click on a book title to see selected reviews
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Reviews
"This book was okay. I didn't hate it or love it either way, though towards the end I realized how lukewarm I felt about the story since I would prefer to read any other book I had on hand. I appreciate the level of novelty in the world-building during the time this was first published. The friendship between the trio is cute. Hermione and Ron are fun characters and I might have enjoyed the book more if they had been the main protagonists. Downsides: I cringed at the excessive fatphobia, anti-semitism, and the turban part. I also didn't like that the final action of the book got skipped over quickly by having a fade-to-black moment and then a lengthy explanation told by one of the side characters. It felt like such an abrupt way to end the story... but TBH, I was glad to be done with it so I could move on to other books lol".
"...The thing that really makes this book stand out is the characters. Harry Potter ended up getting on my last nerve in the series, but in this book, he's crazy likable. The minor characters are what really make the series, though. They have more personality than the protagonist of most books.
This series might not be the best, but there's nothing like it. It's just magical. Plain and simple." -Brian Yahn
"i know im not original when i say harry potter is that one book (and series) for me, but this is what got me into reading. it gave me a childhood far more magical and imaginative than i could have ever asked for. the series taught me the value of empathy, that courage comes in many different forms, the importance of having and being a true friend, that love is the greatest power above all, and most importantly, it taught me to believe in magic. i would not be who i am today without this book and i love that stories have the power to do that, to change lives for the better.
i owe so much to this little book that became such a massive part of my life. and to think it all started with a young boy who lived under the stairs. <3" -Jessica
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Reviews
"I first read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on a plane from London to Singapore in 1998. My mum handed it and Philosopher's Stone to me as I was boarding the plane, and told me to read them and let me know what she thought when she got back to Australia the following week. I read both books straight through without stopping. I read through dinner, and I kept reading when they dimmed the lights so everyone could go to sleep.
Fourteen years later, I still love it. I love Gilderoy Lockhart's special bucket of crazy narcissism. I love the Ford Anglia. I love how there are so many little flashes of foreshadowing - the introduction of Azkaban, of Tom Riddle's diary, of the sword of Gryffindor, of the basilisk fangs, of Polyjuice potion.
It's not my favourite Potter book, but I still love it." -K.
"JK Rowling really knows how to write a great book, thats for sure! Although this wasn't my favorite book in the series, it definitely wasn't because it was bad. I loved the plot and conflict, even though it wasn't as intense as the others were.
I was definitely shocked at the end...so epic and mind blowing!" -Sasha Alsberg
"In general, this book seemed a bit...stuck. Sorcerer’s Stone has a great variety of characters, and features different classes and aspects of Hogwarts life. This installment gave me cabin fever. The whole thing is limited almost entirely to Harry and Ron. They’re great, don’t get me wrong, but...I wanted there to be other people too. Hagrid wasn’t here much, nor Fred and George. Quidditch only happened, what, once? The only class truly described was Lockhart’s, which made me want to bang my head against the wall. In short, I missed everybody. All the new characters introduced here are just unbearable. (Colin, Lucius, Gilderoy...even Dobby at some points. Sorry.)" -emma
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Reviews
"I don't know what to say other than I love this book. I loved learning more about Harry's parents. I loved Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, and everyone else. I loved the storyline and how every single seemingly pointless detail somehow ended up meaning something to the bigger story and how I was left completely in shock. I loved the introduction of divination and I loved Sirius. I love love love this series. Superb storytelling. I AM IN LOVE 😍"-Grace (BURTSBOOKS) on Goodreads.com
"For some reason I didn't like this book as much as most other parts of the series. I can't even really explain why I didn't like it as much but even though I liked Sirius Black, I guess I was just never really interested in his story (please don't kill me for saying that :D). But I still really liked a book, there's no way o could ever give a Harry Potter book less than 4 stars :)"-Nina on Goodreads.com
"So what does the third book offer besides being a bit darker with a bit higher stakes? Absolutely nothing. Instead of fixing any of the previous problems, it just made them bigger. Starting with the security which is not only easy to break, but now also works against the very people it’s supposed to protect. You see, in order to keep the students safe from an assassin, the teachers bring in a hundred life sucking fiends, which were supposed to track the assassin, while making it impossible to sneak out of school. Well guess what, not only they completely failed to find the assassin, not only they couldn’t prevent the students from sneaking out, but also the only people they attacked throughout the book were innocent children.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Reviews
"One of my favorite things in the book was the portrayal of friendship. Harry, Ron and Hermione were depicted as normal teenagers, who sometimes just happen to fight over the stupidest little things. I feel like that really brought their friendship forward, in a way.
I, in general, feel like there was a lot of progress and development in the book. I haven't read the following books yet, so I obviously can't say how much of what happened in this one will play a part later, but I still feel like I learned so many new things about the world this story takes place in and about the characters in it. And oh man, how much I just love those characters..."-Anna(marie)
"...it was in GoF that I realized that Harry was going to win. That he was just awesome, and no matter what rules were set in place (you're too young to enter the tournament/you're ten years old, why on earth would we put you in the CLUTCH position on our Quidditch team/you wear glasses, the ladiez don't dig dudes in glasses) he would triumph. Rowling LOVED Harry. She loved all the Harry gang. Too much. And it became painfully obvious that these kids were going to win, without a single fatality/crippling sacrifice/crushing loss. That in the end, Voldemort would be beaten, and Harry would marry Ginny, and Ron would marry Hermione and everyone would live happily ever after and make lots of adorable wizard babies.
This was the book Harry ceased being a character and became a caricature. A SUPERHERO. Superheros bore me. I want torment. I want LOSS. I want my heroes to pay a TANGIBLE and TERRIBLE price for their victories. And no, killing tertiary characters doesn't count."-Jay Kristoff
"The story has taken it into darker waters, showing it's definitely not a series just for children anymore. There's a tragic death that affects Harry and others (readers included). You can almost see the graveyard and all scenes through Rowling's talented writing style. She can bring forth a surprising range of depth from her characters from the simplest scenes and events.
We even get bizarre mermaids in one particularly riveting scene, a flying dance of dragons, and finally a maze that ends up to a horrific finish.
Some people have said this was their favorite - it's not my top favorite of the first four (I preferred Prisoner of Azkaban a little more), but we get more in-depth glimpses into favorite characters, new characters introduced that are amazing, and an excellent adventure into the wild and complex wizarding world that is Harry Potter."-Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix Reviews
"I cried like a little baby. J.K. Rowling really starts taking the series down a darker road in this book. She is so talented at character development, and it really shines in this book. Here, Harry is 15 years old, and for most of the book, he's whiny and self-centered, just like a typical teenager. I also adore Dumbledore's role in this book--his conversation at the end with Harry put me to tears. Rowling did an amazing job with the character of Umbridge...never have I hated a fictional character more than I hated her. I do have to admit, I'm curious to see whether she makes any more appearances or not. For me, this book was stronger for character development than plot. Yes, this is a key book for the series, but I felt like most of the book was spent with characters' internal issues and development rather than the plot. I love how Harry and the crew are dealing with more adult issues now, such as relationships and death. As with all of her books, I have a really difficult time putting these books down, but especially within the last 100 pages, I physically could not separate the book from my hands. Overall, another outstanding addition from J.K. Rowling."-Jessika
"I feel like I'm going to get attacked for only rating a Harry Potter book 3.75 stars but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is probably my LEAST favorite of the series thus far. It went by so slow and I felt like too much went on but at the same time nothing really happened. This book could've easily been made at least 200 pages shorter if J.K. Rowling got rid of all the pointless details and chapters that added nothing significant to the story line. The movie was never really one of my favorites either and that was probably the primary reason it took me more than a month to get through Order of the Phoenix. On top of that, I wasn't a big fan of Harry in this book. I understand that he went through a whole lot after the events of Goblet of Fire but he was moody and a jerk to everyone around him 98% of the time and although I can empathize with him, it became too over the top for me and I got tired of it real fast. He just kept snapping and going off on all the wrong people and it got really annoying. All the constant CAPITALIZED yelling didn't help too much either."-Mikee Andrea (ReadWithMikee)
"...Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is very well written. I do like how the villain Professor Umbridge is written in this story. She appeared so sweet on the outside with her pink outfits and doilies but wicked evil on the inside with her mean ways punishments. I love Prof McGonagall’s stern attitude with Prof Umbridge. She’s really good with ignoring Umbridge’s throat clearing. I love the humor with past headmasters’ comments. I always love Prof Dumbledore’s uniqueness. The magical world is neat as always, with people moving in photos and picture frames to the magical powers of reading minds. Though it’s lengthy and ongoing at times, it at least offers a bit more of Quidditch than the movie, so I do recommend everyone to read this book! Pro: friendships, mystery, suspense, humor, magical world, fast paced, page turner, easy to read, illustrations, challenges and overcoming obstacles, cleverness, teamwork, anger management Con: Harry is more whiny than usual
"-Jasmine from How Useful It Is
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
"I'm not sure why, but this one took me completely by surprise. I was expecting this installment to be mainly filler to get us to the Deathly Hallows, but so much happened here that I must have forgotten from the movie. The Half-Blood prince was considerably darker than the previous 5 books, and I just adore how this series has progressed and grown just like most of its readers have. Obviously I knew what the big reveal was prior to finishing the book due to my viewing the films before, but it didn't take away from the experience the novel had to offer. I have this nervous lump in my throat knowing that the next book is the final one, but am simultaneously excited to finally read what the films surely have left out surrounding the conclusion of the series."-Chelsea Humphrey
"What to say here? I think I'm in a stage of my reading life where I'm not easily impressed by explosive endings but instead, I appreciate a balanced build-up from the start. Had I read this a couple of years ago I have no doubt I would've 5 stared it but now I think I cannot easily ignore how long and at times even boring this was.
Do I still like the classes and the magical school setting? No not really. Do I like Quidditch and how Gryffindor takes those tight last minute wins? No not really. I'll tell you what I wanted tho, I wanted more Neville, I wanted Harry dealing with depression and trauma and I wanted more plot and less romance. Okay maybe not less romance but a different kind, a better character development to all ships and I say that bc I hated all ships! Even the very minor ones like Lupin's! I did like Bill's tho. This was 600 pages guys, it's not a small book! So I am really wondering right now what happened in all these pages? Because I can only think of very few things that matter. I think I would've liked more povs other than Harry's, I don't hate him but at this point I think I've seen most of him and not enough of the others. I even had enough of Ron and Hermione and didn't enjoy them in this, they kept bickering since book 3 and it's getting tiresome now.
I did really like Dumbeldor and Harry's sessions together, I liked Slughorn and Snape and Voldemort's past stories."-Fares
"In the wake of epic confrontation in the Department of Mysteries, Harry Potter and his friends start their sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is rather more quiet than the fifth, but contains some incredibly intriguing aspects. An elusive Draco Malfoy, a book containing the scribbles of the enigmatic Half-Blood Prince, and more information on the backstory of a certain Hogwarts student of old by the name of Tom Riddle. From a more objective point of view, I would not hesitate to say that this book was not as good as the fifth one, which has been by far the best in the Harry Potter series. Personally however, I may have enjoyed this one more. Mostly because there are few things I enjoy more than backstory. And while this series lacks a lot in many aspects, it does have a bunch of wildly interesting characters. Dumbledore and Snape are definitely among them. But above them all rises Tom Riddle. That being said, Dumbledore was by far my favourite character at the end of the fifth book, and he remains so at the end of the sixth.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
"...What an unexpected result this is. Let's talk about it for six pages. I loved Half-Blood Prince so much that I postponed finishing the series for five months. More context: I started rereading this series in December, I was done the sixth book in February, and I didn’t pick up the finale until July. I thought this book was going to destroy me!!! And, like, it almost did. But not in the oh-my-god-this-amazing-series-is-over-cry-cry-cry way I expected. More like I, too, divided my soul into horcruxes, and they, like Voldemort’s, were being taken out at an excruciatingly slow pace over the course of 784 pages. Just weakening infinitesimally and kind of being like, can you just get this over with already? But instead of, you know, my actual self being killed, it was my enthusiasm for this series and any appreciation I may have had for JK Rowling. Seriously, I feel like any love I had for a couple of the books in this series has been brutally, torturously, painstakingly extinguished.
This book was a CHORE."-emma
"More than any of the other Potter books, Deathly Hallows is a true quest narrative, with the trio spending the majority of the story hunting for horcruxes and hallows whilst evading capture by Voldemort’s Death Eaters. The multiple close-calls that all three main characters find themselves in throughout the book add to the tension that continues to build until the predictably bloody battle at the end of the tale. The book does, after all, chronicle a brutal war, so be prepared for a lot of killing and, consequently, a lot of tears. This is not to say that Deathly Hallows doesn’t offer up a great deal of laughs as well. The hilarious twins Fred and George Weasley make several appearances to ensure that the book isn’t all doom and gloom. By far, the funniest part of the story is the secret radio show Potterwatch, anonymously hosted by former Hogwarts Quidditch commentator Lee Jordan with special appearances from Fred, George, and ex-Defence Against the Dark Arts professor Remus Lupin. Rowling perfectly mixes this blend of humour, tragedy and adventure so that her epic-length novel never lags or drags.
To write a 607 page book that millions of die-hard fans around the world are able to devour in less than 24 hours is no mean feat, but Rowling’s farewell to the Boy Who Lived is an incredibly gripping page-turner that will leave all Potter lovers immensely satisfied."-Suzanne
"In all honesty I am for once in my life simply lost for words. This DESTROYED me. This ripped me apart, then put me back together, then ripped me apart all over again. If this is not a good finale, then I do not, and will never know, what is. This brought it all. Every quality deemed to each Hogwarts house, bravery, skill, cunning, ambition, knowledge, wit, honesty, equality, plus action and adventure, were prominent throughout the entire book. J.K. Rowling is a master and brings in real world issues into her fantastical one. I cried, I laughed, I screamed, I smiled, and when it was all over I just sat there and contemplated what my life will be like now that I have finished the series once more. I highly recommend this series more than anything else in the world to those who need some magic in their lives, which is virtually everyone. Love conquers all, and without delving too much into spoilers, that is where I will leave this. Please pick up this series if you have not, I promise it will not disappoint."-Liza
Every one of these novels averages a rating of above 4.40 stars. It is worth noting, however, that the lowest rating is held by the second book. “...This book seemed a bit...stuck,” said one Goodreads user reviewing "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."
The Twilight Saga
Of course, it’s impossible to talk about young adult fiction without discussing "The Twilight Saga" by Stephanie Meyer. This series tells the tale of high-school student Bella Swan, who falls in love with a vampire. Throughout the four novels, the couple battles with external forces and their own flaws to make their peculiar relationship work.
"The Twilight Saga" Ratings on GoodReads
Click on a book title to see selected reviews
"In short: the writing mechanics are atrocious. The dialogue is stilted and absolutely wretched. The characterization is bad-- loose, jumpy, and the progression is occasionally senseless. The main characters themselves are not compelling: selfish, shallow, lacking the deep thought that comes with true passion and love and instead leaping recklessly into stupid and deadly situations when anyone with a brain could see sixty other possibilities that should have been tried first.
I can't express my disgust for the relationship between Edward and Bella. It's not romance, it's not passion, it's not love. It's selfish idiocy at best. Bella as a character is insufferable: her self-sacrificing streak is not compassion, it's sheer stupidity. It's hormones. It's a bad, bad example for the teenage girls who read it. Bella's whole life is tied up in her boyfriend. She has no goals, passions, ambitions, or dreams besides wanting to be with Edward, who could kill her.
" -Clare Richardson
"I loved this book. There. I said it. In fact, I loved the whole series. What can I say? It was a totally unbelievable paranormal love story filled with way too much drama and teenage angst. And I loved it.
Why?The series reminds me of "fair food". You know, the food you buy when you go to a state fair or carnival? You know you shouldn't want to eat that stuff. And somewhere in your head, there is a little voice telling you that it was prepared by someone who hasn't washed their hands in days.
But you eat it anyway.
Not only do you eat it, but you look forward to eating more. Deep fried corn dogs, greasy pizza, funnel cakes, and elephant ears...yum! The way I see it, everyone could use a little cotton candy from the circus.
Read the books.
Life is too short not to eat the creamy Velveeta cheese of The Twilight Saga." -Anne
"Universally loathed and loved by so many. Before reading, I browsed reviews from friends who I respect and saw a mixed consensus there, too. I was surprised a few of them rated so highly, but even though I hated the movie, I won't diss a book until I've read it myself.. I have a friend offline who warned me the writing was atrocious, and another offline friend who is a huge fan of the books and told me they were much better than the movie. Because of all this conflicting stuff, I didn't know what to expect going in.
What I found was a poorly written book that made me cringe and get annoyed, but was strangely difficult to put down and made a quick read." -Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
New Moon Reviews
"I love the Twilight Saga. I love every single book and it's kind of hard for me to pick a favourite. This one, however, is probably my least favourite. Not for obvious reasons, though. Most people complain about how nothing really happens, how Bella is mainly depressed and moping and boring. To be honest, this is my favourite part in this book. It's the perfect rainy autumn day read. When you're feeling down and annoyed, this book wraps you in a blanket and comforts you. Bella's numbness and depression, Fork's atmosphere, Jacob's warmth, all of that soothes your - or well at least my - soul and lets you sulk a little and enjoy the silence.
I could do without the action, though. I don't need the big drama at the end of every Twilight book. I'm happy just reading about Bella's thoughts and inner conflicts, about her life in Forks, her friends and the Cullens. That's enough for me." -Kai
"I honestly feel that this series shows a deep kind of love that I haven’t seen in all my twenty-plus years of romance reading. It’s not just boy-girl romance, either. It shows a deep, powerful romantic love, but also the love of friendship, the bonds of family (not merely by blood, but by choice), and how they all come together, serving as our greatest weaknesses, but also our greatest strengths. That’s the duality of human nature. Funny how I can learn this lesson from a book about vampires and werewolves, and a human girl caught between them. I can hardly describe how much I love this book! I’m done trying..for now!" Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
"I found the pacing for this novel to be rather slow because of how enormously thick this book was. In case you are wondering, this book is 563 pages long and it was quite boring due to the fact that almost nothing had happened in this book except for the last 80 pages. It was as if the author had made a trend out of this series- action scenes in the very last-minute and I am here to tell you that I totally hated this trend because the author had ordered the readers to read through the life of Bella’s awful actions until the very last scene where the plot started accelerating forward and abruptly stopped with no signs of direction for what the next book will set up to be and I am just going to put this here: Through all the action sequences, it still proved Bella to be a useless liability to the Cullens family. Sorry, I had to do it." -Max Lau • Maxxesbooktopia
"We all can agree that Meyer isn't the best of writers, but she's not bad either. I just wish that the book was a little more involved in action and be less about Bella's indecisiveness on whether or not she is in love with Jacob. The love triangle has me cussing. I am not overly fond of Jacob, not because he's trying to steal Bella from Edward, not even close. I don't like him that much because he's pretty immature. I even think that maybe, just maybe if he'd just let Bella make up her mind on her own, maybe she'd even choose him. But forcing himself on her, either directly or backstab-bishly.
"I was very disappointed in this book. I liked Twilight and enjoyed New Moon, but this installment felt like a dime romance novel to me. She didn't introduce any new characters and spent the whole book on the love triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob. I felt like the love scenes were cheesy and tiresome. I also felt that Bella was whiney and initiating. Doesn't she understand that she can't have 2 boyfriends? This seems to be a foreign concept to her. In addition, Meyer has taken Bella from a bold heroine and turned her into an annoying little girl whose eternal existence depends completely upon the men in her life. She even says to Jacob that she has no choices. For most of New Moon and almost all of Eclipse Bella acts like the fainting women in silent movies that must carried everywhere and protected by their male companions. Do we really want to be spreading a message to young girls that without a strong man in their life they have no purpose to live? Please! This was such a disappointment for me." -Rachel Wagner
"The rivalry, jealousy and enmity between Jacob and Edward makes this book the most gripping and absorbing out of the entire series, with their conflict coming to its conclusion as Bella has to make that tough decision between the love of her life Edward or Jacob whom is her best friend and who is such a gentle, caring being beneath the Werewolf exterior; it is certainly a moment that has you clutching the pages tightly whilst sat on the edge of your seat.
This series continues to astonish me and I am constantly overwhelmed by the spectacular narrative that is just overwhelming and breathtaking. I would give this more than a five star rating if I could…just incredible & a must-read!!!" -Lucinda
Breaking Dawn Reviews
"Weird. Back in the day, this was my favorite Twilight novel. Now, it's my least favorite one. It was just unnecessarily long. The pace of the first 50% of the book was pretty perfect, then after Bella changes, there is over 200 pages of pure happiness and bliss that is just sickeningly sweet. A little bit of bliss goes a long way, but the excess amount of exuberance was just overkill and it started to drag on and on. By the time we reach the next conflict, I'm already drained from all the happy times, to care too much about all the scary vamps that are to come. I would have enjoyed this one a lot more if the pacing from the first part would have continued until the end." -Kristen
"I can't express how much I truly loved this book! I can't say much about it because I personally like writing spoiler free reviews but I will say, before you watch the movie breaking dawn read this book! Even if you haven't read any of the other books in the series but have watched the movies this book is still a must read before watching. The ending is so much more different in the book then the moving and I'm honestly not sure which I liked more. But this book was amazing!! I loved the characters I loved the story I just loved it all. An absolute 5 star read." -Kayla
"At this, the end of my tumultuous journey through the Twilight series, I thought that my expectations were as low as they could go. Yet somehow, SMeyer punched those expectations in the face and forced them into depths of awfulness I never knew existed outside of fan fiction websites. There is no nice way to say this: Breaking Dawn is a malicious attack against human intelligence, general goodness, and common sense. It stole several hours of my valuable time, and I don't think I'll ever forgive it for that." -Rachel (BAVR)
The series captured the hearts of young hopeless romantics around the world. “It was a totally unbelievable paranormal love story filled with way too much drama and teenage angst. And I loved it,” said Anne, a Goodreads user reviewing the first book in the saga. Of all the book series in this analysis, "The Twilight Saga" has the lowest overall ratings. The first book was rated 3.59 stars by Goodreads readers, however the second book had just a slight -0.06 star slump in average ratings compared to the first. The last two novels had average ratings of 3.69 stars, which is a .10 star increase from the first installment. Despite its low ratings and criticism for being anti-feminist, "The Twilight Saga" maintained a cult following throughout the duration of the book and subsequent movie franchise.
According to Goodreads’ reader reviews, the second book slump appears to be a real trend that affects authors and readers alike. Especially evident in the "Uglies", "The Hunger Games" and the "Divergent" trilogy, readers’ satisfaction tends to decrease over the course of a series. While this could occur for a multitude of reasons, one reader of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay said she feels the author may have “lost her way” in the final book. Whether or not that is the case, Collins’ is certainly not alone.