Top 5 Wednesday: Series That Got Worse with Each Book

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group hosted by Lainey from Ginger Reads Lainey and Samantha from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday of the month, readers and bloggers present their Top 5 Wednesday choices for a specific topic. Today’s topic are series (both books and TV) which either started out good and went downhill or commenced with a bad start and only got worse from there. As this category applies to pretty much every series I’ve ever watched, for there is only so many seasons before an original idea is sucked dry, I’ll be sticking exclusively to book series. Be aware that this list is organised as a countdown, from a series I thought was overall bearable to a series I loathed with every fibre of my being.

#5: The Dustlands (#1-3) by Moira Young

The first instalment Blood Red Road is one of my all-time favourite dystopians, which is why it may come as a surprise to you that this series is on my list. In spite of my love for the first book, I couldn’t ignore how the sequels failed to level with Blood Red Road in their awesomeness. With Rebel Heart, I still had a solid second instalment in my hands, though my issues with Saba’s character development commenced. With Raging Star, its supposedly adrenaline-inducing finale, I was simply drop-dead disappointed, if that’s even a thing. I’d say the very last chapter was somewhat redeeming and half-heartedly gave The Dustlands the exit the series deserved, but overall, the characterization and plot circled the drain in the final instalment. So, whenever I recommend Blood Red Road to friends, I make sure to note that the first book should be devoured as a standalone.

#4: The 5th Wave (#1-3) by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave is, much like The Dustlands, another example of a series that started out with a firework and then took the first hit with a mediocre sequel, only to end with a tiny, disappointing flame. The first book offers a gripping start to a sci-fi tale of an alien invasion which took place in five waves, washing out humanity with every hit. Though I’m not a fan of the alien invasion premise in general, this idea hooked me. I adored the snarky first person POV, the apocalyptic atmosphere, and the action-packed plot (and though many think he has a severe case of creepy, I was young, and I loved Evan, and I regret nothing). With the sequel, it already became evident that the series was losing some of its quality, though Yancey managed to keep me intrigued with sparks of plot twists. And then, he blew those plot twists to pieces in the last book, which was one of my biggest disappointments this year (it’s quite evident in the average rating on GR, too). The long break inbetween was palpable. The narration had lost its snark, the main character had gone OOC, and the plot turned out to be a balloon quickly losing its hot air. Honestly, I cannot recommend this series any longer, which breaks my heart.

#3: Divergent (#1-3) by Veronica Roth

Oh Divergent, what shall I say about you. At the time, Divergent struck my younger self as an entertaining and well plotted read, and so my 4-star rating stands to this day, though it would undoubtedly be lower today. After a reasonably solid beginning, however, commenced the series’s issues. Insurgent managed to hold my attention but just barely as the plot slowly took a turn for the ridiculous, but I thought the final instalment could still save this sinking ship. It did not. Allegiant, much like The Last Star, ended up as a balloon quickly losing its hot air. This book suffered from a severe case of OOC (btw, out of character, for all of you who aren’t familiar with the abbreviation), disappointing world-building, failed logic, unrealistic choices, and cheap plot twists. Honestly, if there was a low point in my earlier life as a passionate bookworm, then it would’ve been Allegiant, because I felt incredibly betrayed. Nope, series not recommended. 

#2:  Air Awakens (#1-5) by Elise Kova

I admit that I recognized some faults in Air Awakens already but didn’t heed the warning. I should have known where this series was headed, yet the first instalment had me intrigued. The series’s originality was questionable from the beginning, for the storyline reminded me of a female Aang from the Last Airbender who was raised as a library apprentice and fell in love with Zuko – the parallels between Air Awakens and Avatar The Last Airbender cannot be ignored. I quite enjoyed the first book but the series went downhill from there. Fire Falling was the epitome of romantic angst, a bawlfest if I’ve ever seen one, but with an action-packed ending and cliffhanger, the book was still bearable overall. And then came Earth’s End and destroyed my will to continue with this series, for the plot was a total bore and the ending was ridiculous. Besides the absolutely problematic co-dependence that was this romance, I’ve never seen an author single-handedly destruct a character’s development as rapidly as Elise Kova, so I suppose this is where I give my credit and silently sneak out of the audience.

#1: House of Night (#1-7) by P. C. Cast

If you’re a devoted fan of the House of Night series, then this is probably where you should stop reading because I have only sneers to spare for this trash. I started this paranormal series when I was in my early teens and, even at that age, it was just a guilty pleasure read. The levels of narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy, girl-on-girl hate, and slut-shaming were infuriating. I rated Marked two stars and the quality of the series flatlined at a steady 1-star rating after two books. To be honest, I can’t believe I tolerated 7 books filled with this bullshit. But hey look, I made it out alive and unscathed. Now hidden somewhere at the back of my shelf, these trashy books will probably soon find their way into the fireplace and at least keep me warm through winter.

So this was it from my side. In the assumption that I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, I hope you enjoyed my rant. Now I’d love to hear from your experiences with bad series!

What series do you feel started out strongly and then fell flatter with every book? Is there any series you regret having started at all? Please let me know in the comments below 🙂


  1. I strongly agree about the Divergent trilogy. It started so well, it’s such a shame.

    I would add the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver. Delirium is hands down one of my all time favorite books but then the second and third book didn’t live up to my expectations. I would still recommend the series. It wasn’t terrible or anything but just a little disappointing.

    I would also mention the Throne of Glass series *collective gasp* Before you bite my head off I’d like to say that the first three books are on my favorite books of all time list. They even got better with each new book, the novella was crazy good as well but theeeen SJM took the series on a smutty cheesy romancy (this is probably not a word but bear with me) road. I have a full rant on my Empire of Storms review if you want to know more but overall, I’m very disappointed in this series.

    • nina

      December 14, 2016 at 3:20 PM

      To be honest, I’ve read Delirium and Throne of Glass but didn’t continue with either series, as I had heard of the downward spiral for both beforehand. SJM is a very controversial author for me in general, to be honest. She keeps recycling the seemingly same material in different series and people are buying it. I also think it’s problematic for a series, which started out as YA, to suddenly turn into NA material with graphic sexual content. I will gladly seek out your Empire of Storms rant 😉

      And btw, word creations to express feelings are ALWAYS welcome 😀

  2. Exactly my thoughts about the Fifth Wave and Divergent series. I think this is why I’m not as crazy about dystopia as I used to. *sighs* Nice thoughts you have here, Nina. <3 Also, I noticed that the like button on your posts do not appear whenever I read them. It pisses me off because I badly want to like your posts and I couldn't. Do you know how I could solve that problem? 🙂

    • nina

      December 16, 2016 at 6:49 PM

      Thank you for commenting, Aj! <3 Agreed, the dystopian genre has taken massive hits with series like these, which is quite a shame, because the genre does have potential!

      Regarding the like button: As far as I know, we're missing a like button and only have the comment section so far. Maybe we can install one soon 🙂 Do you have one on your blog?

  3. Cait @ Paper Fury

    December 16, 2016 at 7:59 AM

    Omg I agree so much about Blood Red Road I WANT TO CRYYYYYYY. The first book is probably one of my top favourite books in….ever!?!? And then Rebel Heart was still good and I liked it, but it didn’t leave me feeling so amazingly flailing afterwards. And I just like to pretend Raging Star doesn’t even exist.? It made the whole series so POINTLESS AGH!!
    I know I’m a minority in this, but I really liked Allegiant, hehe. It wasn’t as interesting as the first ones but I still enjoyed it enough!

    And omg Throne of Glass?! I loved the first two books and then it went downhill so fast it was pure agony.? I’m always so nervous to read sequels now!!

    • nina

      December 16, 2016 at 6:53 PM

      I KNOW RIGHTTTT. Blood Red Road is seriously one of my all-time favourites – and I am certified Saba and Jack trash – but this series really went up in flames, first with a mediocre sequel and then a final instalment I wish I could erase from my memory. And you’re right about Raging Star making the whole series seem pointless (actually, similar to The Hunger Games series but just… far worse ?). Happy you were satisfied with Allegiant, though!

      Tbh, I didn’t continue with ToG after the first book, even though I kind of enjoyed that one, but I just heard so many bad things from friends that I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the sequels 😛

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