Smarty Pants: Submissions from the most clever people on the planet: our readers! See More...

The Trauma Of A Cancelled Book Series

Why Smarty Pants Pia will never recover from not knowing the end of Poseur.

The Trauma Of A Cancelled Book Series

Join us in welcoming Pia back to the Smarty Pants soapbox stage! She's looking to break into publishing, and one of her life's high points is John Green replying to her on Twitter on the subject of unicorns. Just like The Dude, her fave adult beverage is a White Russian.

We’ve all lived through the misery of a beloved TV series being cancelled, right? Firefly, Pushing Daisies, Veronica Mars, My So-Called Life, Freaks & Geeks, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip

I don’t know about you, but I personally enjoy reading over that list while thinking about the fact that The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men are still airing. Weekly. Because apparently nobody is getting tired of them.

Ahem.

But a book series? No way. Book series don’t get cancelled. Remember how Animorphs and The Baby-Sitter’s Club and Goosebumps and all the other titles that invariably pop up on 90s nostalgia pieces on Buzzfeed just went on and on? Remember how you made it through puberty before the final titles of those books came out? Exactly.

So how does one explain the gaping chasm left in my life by the unfinished Poseur books? 

Allow me to back up and explain. Poseur was a book series by Rachel Maude, aimed mainly at teenage girls. It came out in that late ’00s period when the Gossip Girl TV series was still a) super popular and b) set in high school and there were a metric ton of books being released about affluent teenagers in New York or LA. Ongoing series like The A-List, The Clique, and of course the Gossip Girl books themselves (plus the It Girl spinoff featuring Jenny Humphrey at boarding school) were bigged up alongside newer series like Secrets of My Hollywood Life and – yep – Poseur. Most of them were acquired if not initially published by Poppy, a (currently sleepy) Hachette imprint dedicated to teen girl fiction.

Then around mid-2010, all of Poppy’s ongoing series just seemed to kind of…fizzle out. Poseur included.

And dear Lord has that left me bitter.

Why, you ask…?

It Wasn’t Like Those Other Series, Okay? You Just Don’t Understand!

I’m not ashamed to say that I ploughed through most of Poppy’s offerings like I was on the most sinful of sugar binges. I read the first few Gossip Girl books, all of The It Girl books, The A-List spinoff, the Gossip Girl spinoff (it was called The Carlyles and it was hilarious how little the ghostwriters seemed to care about consistency), and even the first Secrets of My Hollywood Life book (it was so, so bad). Most of them were trashy and mindless and a decent if not memorable way to kill a half hour.

So in the midst of all of that, Poseur stuck out like a sore thumb.

The premise had slightly more of a point than ‘bored rich teenagers doing stuff and occasionally each other.’ Specifically: four very different girls are thrown together under duress and decide to start their own fashion label.

I know. I know it sounds like a platform for the kind of catty fodder of some lame reality show, okay? But it’s not! I mean, it wasn’t. Yes, it’s set in LA and three out of the four girls are uber-rich, but they don’t magically go from strangers to besties or immediately put together a flawless fashion show that earns them the respect and admiration of everyone in the biz. I mean, they’re not even super awesome BFFs by the end of the first book, or the second. They’re only really just starting to form stronger bonds by the fourth book.

And then the series got unceremoniously canned.

The Writing Was Fabulous Like You Wouldn’t Even Believe.

So the thing a lot of the Poppy books had in common was that…they weren’t always that well-written. Sometimes this was because of a blatant disregard for continuity – a character in the first Carlyles book was established as the plain Jane of the family, only to get described in the second book as basically the new Serena van der Woodsen. Also, I assume the authors and ghostwriters got some kind of heads-up when the imprint was about to fold, because the third (and final) book of The A-List spinoff so hastily attempted to resolve various plot threads (mostly in terms of romantic entanglements) that the ending felt completely rushed and unnatural.

Poseur was basically a complicated breath of fresh air in this respect – there was no rushed ending but the unresolved plot threads have stayed just that. Unresolved.

The thing is…Poseur was excellently written. All four books were funny, but in wonderfully subtle ways (par example: a group of preteen girls innocently dub themselves the Nicarettes), and the dialogue was hilarious. The whole series was gloriously self-aware, and essentially a parody of life in LA and maybe even the teen books on that subject.

Seriously. Read for yourself.

Most importantly: no glaring continuity errors.

The Characters.

Despite the satirical tone of the books, the four main girls were actually wonderfully likeable and relatable. Which is great because…does anyone actually relate to the characters in the Gossip Girl books? I feel like there was a similar attempt at satire there that mostly resulted in me loathing all the characters.

Not so with Poseur. Not even a little bit. I especially loved the scenes in which all of them had to interact – those were basically comedy gold.

The Illustrations! The Illustrations!

I’m not saying a few pictures automatically make a book better, but in Poseur’s case, it worked. I mean, the series was about fashion, and one of the characters (Janie) was the assigned artist of the fashion label. Thus: lots of wonderfully-hand-drawn pictures of the clothes described in the books.

Rachel Maude drew them. This is because Rachel Maude has the kind of supreme talent that makes people like me cry with envy.

The Plot.

I’ve already mentioned the unresolved plot threads, but…really, it’s worth the double mention because I simply cannot entirely process the fact that I might never learn how the story turns out. The first few books are just so excellently thought out in terms of what happens – there’s a mystery storyline in the first book mixed in with more standard high school-esque storylines about romance and fitting in and it’s all just a hell of a lot more gripping than ‘I fell in love with my new friend’s girlfriend and I’m so in love with her and hmmm wait I think I’m going to break it off because our sexual chemistry is too strong.’

…thanks, The Carlyles. THANKS FOR CAPTURING THE MINDSET OF A TEENAGE BOY SO ACCURATELY THAT I MIGHT EXPLODE FROM THE ACCURACY OF IT ALL.

So. Why have I written this post? Maybe it’s to acknowledge that TEABS can suck but not even getting the chance to experience TEABS properly sucks even more. Maybe it’s in the hope that if enough people pick up the series, Rachel Maude will write more books, Poppy or no Poppy. Maybe it’s so I can get more people to read the books and DRAG THEM INTO THE PIT OF UNKNOWING MISERY WITH ME.

Have you read Poseur, or any of the other Poppy books? Have you ever experienced the trauma of book cancellation?  Have you just abandoned a series because of crappy writing? Let me know in the comments!