Book Talk: Middle Book Syndrome

Friday 11 December 2015

In case you're unsure as to what exactly I mean when I say Middle Book Syndrome, I'll break it down for you.

Middle Book Syndrome (MBS) 

A terrible affliction, affecting one in five books. Most common in trilogies (young adult, dystopia, etc) although appearing within series as well, MBS affects the second or middle book only. 

Symptoms can include: stagnant plot, dull characters, unnecessary angst and romance, quotes that try too hard to be poignant, and general disappointment. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for MBS, but symptoms and suffering can be alleviated with a dose of Excellent Ending courtesy of the final book. There is little known about the cause or spread of MBS, but with future research we hope to change this.

Not every middle book suffer from MBS, but those that do suffer hard. Think Pretties by Scott Westerfeld, City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, or House of Hades by Rick Riordan (yes, although it was an incredible book, it suffered from MBS in that it was mostly filler material). Sometimes it can work to slow things down a bit and focus more on the characters, but nine times out of ten it's because the author is struggling to get from point A to point B and so jams in a big chunk of 'plot' which is actually anything but. 

Perhaps it's just me being cynical, but I feel that authors need to sit back and ask themselves 'is this really essential?' Editors, too, need to speak up and say 'cut this scene' or 'scrap this chapter' to condense stories so only the vital parts are being shared. Maybe I just prefer books to be succinct and to the point, or maybe I'm just too critical.

What are your thoughts?


  1. I really agree! Most middle books I've read have been slow and not very promising. I could not get through City of Fallen Angels for the life of me, and House of Hades, I thought, had a lot of pointless fillers. It's kind of like Heir of Fire in the Throne of Glass series. Ugh, that book annoyed me so much. All this being said, however, there are some books that I thought didn't follow this pattern. Books like HP and The Order of the Phoenix, I thought, added great advancements to the story.

    1. I really struggled with the entire second half of The Mortal Instruments, and as much as I adored the Heroes of Olympus series I did feel like they could have been condensed a lot. So much filler, ugh! However, I really liked Heir of Fire and felt like it did offer a lot of character growth and development. (I also really loved the introduction of Rowan.) But I totally agree with HP! Order of the Phoenix is my favourite of the series and they ruined the film for it by not including some very important scenes. >:(


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