On Final Installments of Trilogies

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Today I’d like to discuss final books in trilogies. Although many times we complain about the “draggy middle parts” in the second book of a trilogy, I often find that the third book in the series I can be even worse.

In trilogies I often see this formula:

Book 1: the world is set up, main characters are introduced, and the protagonist is faced with the main conflict/overarching problem.

Book 2: the plot (slowly) starts to build, with more problems arising and the conflict becomes more severe.

Book 3: the conflict is finally resolved (or was just was resolved in Book 2), and the protagonist now has to face the repercussions from their actions and make some important decisions to change himself/herself and the world for the better.
There have been instances where the climax of the story takes place in the final installment of the trilogy, however there is always wind-down time where everything calms down and starts to wrap up. So since there are many good and bad things that seem to happen with the final installments, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts.


The wait is finally over! You get to see how the story ends! But at the same time, the story is ending *cries* Anyway, your favorite characters are back for the grand finale. You are so excited to find out what happens to the beloved characters. But look! A wild [insert random unnecessary character here] appears! I know that sometimes introducing new characters into the plot is necessary (like in Mockingjay), but sometimes there are legitimate random characters that pop out of nowhere and completely throw you off guard. I haven't read a third book in a trilogy yet because I found out a random "love interest" was thrown in at the last minute after the main relationship was already established. I mean, seriously?!? Or even worse: the events finally lead up to the final battle with the character's nemesis. The battle that ensues is EPIC. Everyone seems like they're going to make it out alive. But suddenly, your favorite character dies. NOOOOO!!!! (And this happens way too much.)

On the other hand, the characters you love usually get the fate they deserve. But sometimes, if the ending isn't written correctly, the problems all seem to magically be resolved and the characters suddenly have a happily ever after. It would be fine if it’s a fairytale retelling or something, but 99% of the time, they aren’t fairytales. The characters' major problems may have been resolved, but it shouldn't suddenly be rainbows and unicorns unless it's a rainbows-and-unicorns kind of book.

Occasionally, however, the last chapter is so satisfying and does leave a lasting impression on you. You adore that last chapter and savor it in your mind and heart. You flip to the next page. Oooh! A epilogue. I am not particularly fond of epilogues. Not all of them are bad, but sometimes the epilogue messes everything up or throws something in there that you weren’t expecting and leaves you completely off guard.

Is this just me? Am I just being overly critical of final installments of trilogies? What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts!!



  1. I usually find myself liking the last book the most, because by the time I reach this book, I would have known the characters for at least three years. So I am inclined to enjoy them more and be invested in their storyline. I still throw a little tantrum because my favourite series is ending though. Plus I never tend to read the entire series unless I really loved the books, so the third book is usually from a series that's had sustained quality - therefore usually solid in my case.

    Aentee at Read at Midnight

    1. Okay, you're right. There are cases where I loved the third book for the reasons you mentioned (I'm thinking of one specific book in particular), but there are tons of factors that make me weary of starting the final books. Now that I think about it, I haven't actually... finished a lot of trilogies. I can think of less than five off the top of my head, which means I probably have a twisted, not quite accurate view of things. I may come back to this topic later and reevaluate to see where I stand later.

    2. Now that I think about it, I'm really bad at finishing series...

  2. I hate when they introduce random characters in the third book. I'm thinking of one book in particular where they introduce a character to look like a new love interest and it made me want to slam my head into a wall! Also I HATE when it gets to that epic battle scene and it just is so anticlimactic! Like woah, I read this whole book/series for THAT!? Like I thought the battle scene at the end of The Diviners was a waste of my time for example. That book was such a behemoth too. But I personally almost always finish a series. Unless I absolutely hate it. I'm actually really easy to please though. So maybe that's it. I can only think of three series that I haven't finished/don't plan on finishing and you know everything is a series nowadays.

    1. It's not that I don't want to finish series (like I usually buy all the books), I just am no longer motivated and forget how much I love the series :) And that's too bad! I've been eyeing The Diviners for a while and still haven't picked it up

  3. You make a good point. I think both second and third books have their pitfalls. Often it seems to me that second books are unnecessary, but third books are where things can be redeemed OR completely blown to bits. The longer I've been reading YA the more wary I get about committing to a trilogy. Often I'll just try the first book and then wait for reviews on the second.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. That's pretty accurate. I have very mixed feelings about book 2 and book 3. Book 2 or book 3 can be the best book or the worst book, depending on the way it was written/how the plot flows. That's actually a good idea (to look at reviews of book 2 before determining whether or not to continue on with a series)