The Green Debate is On

September 1, 2009

Asking readers what they think about reading a novel that both begins and ends a series, such as Green, is a bit like asking someone what they think about being thrown out of an airplane with a parachute strapped on.

Until you’ve done it, you can only guess.

Those who’ve read the Circle Series thus far will likely say it’s not wise to start with Green. But then, they have never done that, so can’t really know.

It’s also a bit like the Star Wars Saga. Many debate whether it’s better to start with the ending of Star Wars movies, as they were released, or to start with Phantom Menace. Do you start at the beginning or at the end? For new viewers, most agree that it’s better to start with the end of Star Wars even though it spoils how the series ends.

Still, it’s up for debate. Just remember that if you’ve read Black, Red and White, you are debating what someone else will experience, not you. You are guessing that certain spoilers will create less of an impulse to discover or that they will ruin the experience of those discoveries.

This was at the forefront of my mind as I wrote. So, having finished the first draft, I gave the manuscript to a whole cast of readers who’d read the series and another whole cast who hadn’t read anything. We gave them all an extensive questionnaire and then poured over the responses.

The result was exactly as I had hoped. All who had read Black, Red and White thought Green made for a strong conclusion. Yet they weren’t sure it would make for a strong beginning. How could they know, being forever stamped by their own experience?

And all, to a person, who read Green without any prior knowledge of the series thought it made a perfect beginning and would immediately pick up Black. I quizzed them in great detail and made some small adjustments. Nowhere did they feel lost for lack of knowing, and instead were eager to learn more about the backstory alluded to throughout. All of those things you think of as spoilers, were story questions for the virgin reader. Indeed, many things you think are spoilers actually aren’t apparent UNLESS you’ve read the other books. Knowing the dot is on the wall, you see it every time you enter the room, even though others do not.

I gave all of this much thought as I crafted this most unusual novel. You really have to ask someone who reads the series starting with Green and ending with White how the experience was if you want to know.

Bottom line: Don’t assume that the KNOWLEDGE others acquire in Green will lessen rather than add to the EXPERIENCE of reading the other novels. Take a new reader’s word for it. That’s what I did, and that’s why I called Green Book Zero.

Now debate away. Leave a comment or join the conversation at

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