So, last week, Publishers’ Weekly announced that Megan McCafferty, author of the very funny and very popular Jessica Darling novels, has a new book deal…to write more Jessica Darling novels. These will be prequels of a sort, and will focus on Jessica and Hope in middle school. Here’s the announcement from the PW website:
For Little, Brown’s Poppy imprint, Elizabeth Bewley signed bestselling author Megan McCafferty to a two-book deal that will launch a new middle-grade series featuring the author’s popular Jessica Darling character. (McCafferty has written five novels in the bestselling Jessica Darling series for Crown’s Three Rivers Press.) The new series, called It List, will mark the author’s first foray into middle-grade fiction, and the first book, Jessica Darling’s It List #1: The (Notso) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection, will follow a 12-year-old version of the title character as she begins middle school. The series name refers to a collection of guides Jessica’s older sister, Bethany, left for her. ICM’s Heather Schroder represented McCafferty.
Now, I loved the Jessica Darling novels, and I love McCafferty’s work in general. I think she’s a funny, smart writer who is creating great content for teens and adults alike. But this news kind of bummed me out. When I read this announcement, I realized that I wanted McCafferty to explore new territory, not regress back into her most popular series. The Jessica Darling character arc feels finished to me (one could argue that the series should have ended with book 3, to be honest). Do we really need to regress back into the world of Pineville, New Jersey? What’s to gain from revisiting these characters yet again? (Besides the obvious monetary gain.)
I don’t mean to pick on McCafferty in terms of this series being the only one that has overstayed its welcome. There are plenty of other series that go on for much too long (Sweet Valley High and the abomination Sweet Valley Confidential being, perhaps, the epitome of such a series).
So am I totally wrong? Should I be celebrating the continuation of the Jessica Darling series, even though I have serious reservations about something like this?
What do you think? Are you willing to stick with a series you love no matter what, even if it means sacrificing some of what you originally loved about it?