The Series That Keeps On Giving: a review of i don’t want to kill you by dan wells

Dan Wells, you have knocked this one out of the park!

Much like the New Years episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney explains that a good mix, instead of rising and falling, should be all rise, I am very much of the opinion that a good series (no matter how many books) should be too.

Now that is not to say that there shouldn’t be highs and lows for the reader, both emotionally and in terms of pacing, but that each book ought to be even more awesome than the one previous. It needs to start at awesome and get progressively more awesome from there.

This foundational concept is one of the things I would love to be known for as I writer, and layer expertly into my own writings. My biggest quandry is: exactly how do the current experts do it?

Both Dan Wells and my hero/would be writing mentor, the Branderson, (Brandon Sanderson) have, in every series I’ve read of theirs, executed this concept beautifully. The kicker for me is that they’ve done it, seemingly, without any intention to do so beforehand.

I have at least four or five major series that I would love to be write, publish, and eventually be known for, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to plan the exponential awesomeness curve without writing the whole series in the process without publishing any as I go.

Then Mr. Dan Wells in his lecture on 7-point plot structure, that I may or may not blog about soon also, said that he originally wrote I Am Not A Serial Killer as a stand alone work with no intention of a series. And yet each book promises exponentially further awesomeness to come while fulfilling that very promise in the book previous!

Brandon Sanderson does exactly the same with the original Mistborn trilogy, with every appearance of matching/topping it in both Steelheart and The Stormlight Archive. And yet only The Stormlight Archive was originally intended as a series! The rest were written as stand alones with series potential!

How do they do it?!!

I would have thought that they, like how J K Rowling outlined the entire Harry Potter series on the train the very first day she had the idea, did something similar before ever even writing the first book, but no, they just manage to somehow fluke their genius. They manage to leave enough questions open and unanswered in their earlier books that, though the audience doesn’t necessarily realise, there’s room to explore and develop and grow those questions into huge problems and intensely satisfying resolutions, without any foreplanning whatsoever.

I shouldn’t say any foreplanning, as Wells and Sanderson are both meticulous book planners, but they don’t do that with series, with perhaps the exception of The Stormlight Archive, where every book is written as a trilogy in and of itself.

The point is, I have extreme professional admiration and envy of both of these men and you should read their books.

With that as a sort of segue (or regue) back to I Don’t Want To Kill You, oh my goodness, it exceeded my expectations and then some. It was fascinating, thought-provoking, fun, and made me want to accelerate through it in the very best way possible.

I’m giving this one a definite four and a half marshmallows out of five, which is where I sit the series as a whole, because it’s just soooo good! Seriously. If you’re into YA, suspense, horror, psychological thrillers or even just books set in high school, I recommend this book to you.

And now my question to you: what other series do you know that just keeps on giving, where every new book seems even better than the one before it?


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