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What should we make of series? (1 Viewer)

Dancer Preston

Senior Member
When analyzing an author's work, in the case of series, should we analyze the entire series or should we look at each book as its own unique work? For example, for Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, should we take each book as a work of itself, or should we look at the work as a whole? Or, Tolkein's Lord of the Ring series, is the theme of each one strong enough to stand on its own, or should we look at the whole series?

Of course, there are those who would rather not take the book apart, because analyzing literature is not what literature is made for. But this is not a conversation on that.

I am simply asking, should each book in a series stand on its own, or should it be taken with the rest of the series.

(Sorry, I'm a literature geek, and enjoy writing book reports and analysis for fun!)


Senior Member
I've often thought of the same question, though I doubt there is any rule on the matter. Once you've read the entire series, I think it's more difficult to analyze each one individually, unless you're analyzing writing style and structure exclusively. I tend to see a series just as the story as a whole, which is why I tend to analyze it as so. It may be different for everyone. I think both techniques are possible and acceptable.


Senior Member
Personally I tend to look at a series as a whole rather then individually, mainly because it's the entire package that completes the story. I mean one book could have been bad in the series (let's say the second) but the first and last one were amazing, and that in itself could strengthen your opinion about the series, even if the middle one was a flop. Besides it's easier to analyze as a whole rather then cut them into peices and critisize individually, but too each his own of course :p


I'd say it depends.

If it's a tightly-knit series with one book leading straight into the next, I think it would be unfair to judge the individual volumes in the same way you might analyse standalone works. If it was never the author's intention to provide a complete story or statement in a single book, you can't really hold that against him, IMHO. That doesn't mean you have to like it, of course.

With serial works like Harry Potter, though, the storylines of the individual volumes seem independent enough to judge soley on their own merits, I think.

In any case, a complete series review is always in order once a series has finished.
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