Monday, January 7, 2013

January 2013 discussion of the month. Series reading: Is it worth it to you?




Series reading: Is it worth it to you?

Series reading can be a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can become a pain in the butt. As we all know most series have a huge world built and if you pick up a book in the middle of the series you’re just out of luck at knowing what is really going on. I have seen many readers end up hating an author and a series because of this. I feel, as a reader, you are responsible for making the decision as to whether a book can be read out of order. With places like Goodreads and Shelfari, there is no excuse. Check the book out before you buy it. Heck, I have even asked my friends on Goodreads to make sure a book can be read as a standalone before jumping in. I’m one of those who is OCD when it comes to reading books in order. I have to know where every character comes in and why. An author can say that their book can be read as a standalone and I can still pick at it to death knowing the whole time I shouldn’t have listened, and should have started at book one. I learned my lesson about this pretty quickly. I believe that paranormal romance series tend to focus more on world building than other romance sub-genres, so that can be one of my downfalls.
One thing I love about reading series is being able to get to know the characters and watching them grow through each book. I feel like I really get to know them before they appear in their own book. I also love it when something is not completely explained in one book, but the next book clears everything up. Sometime you can even tell that the author was surprised at how it all turned out. 
I know some authors will write a series as standalones, but most don’t. The reason is most of the time authors write things that have not been completely plotted out. As a result they too get shocked at how the story takes a life of it own and grows before their eyes in directions they never suspected. Therefore, it becomes necessary to read several books before something of major importance is opened up and settled. I have seen this in several great authors’ writings, but this can be a problem to readers because they have to keep buying in order to keep up. Odds are, if you’re like me, you have so many series going that you can no longer keep up. So, you end up either letting some fall by the way side or just give up on finishing that series.
Sometime when you are reading a series you find yourself anxiously waiting for the next book only to be disappointed when it never arrives. Why does this happen? Usually the explanation for this is either the author's inspiration disappears or the publisher quits the series because of sales. I really hate it when this happens and it is happening more and more these days. What kills me the most is some authors will just leave you hanging and never admit what really happened. I have never understood why they can’t just write a simple statement saying what really happened. If the series is cut by the publisher the author has other avenues they can pursue in order to keep writing. Sometimes they just need a little encouragement to try non-traditional means of publishing. This is again where a reader can promote the series like crazy before it gets the plug pulled.  If the plug gets pulled, by all means email the author and see if you can encourage them to indie publish or at least try a smaller press. One thing I have learned is it never hurts to ask.
Repetition is another thing that can happen in a series. I know I’m not the only one that has to quit a series because each book seemed too similar to the previous one or the similarities were so close they were uncanny. Usually when this happens I feel like I got ripped off because as I read I feel like only the hero and heroine's names have changed, but nothing else.
Villains can be a real problem too. I know we can all admit to this one. We get sick and tired of the same villain after… let's say fifteen freaking books. I can hear everyone now because even I’m screaming, “Come on! Let’s get the villain over and done with already!” I’ve learned to look at it this way, if the villain is still around after the fourth hero, then the heroes were no real heroes… Period. So please find a way to get rid of the same old villain and develop new ones.
I wonder if any of you have ever done this before? You find you’re so far behind in the series that you get desperate. You want to know what’s going on so you just go and grab the newest release and start reading it. Oh my, that was so not fun. LOL. I did that once and found out it never pays off. I ended up more mad then when I started. So then I have to quit the book and go back to where I left off.
I'll admit I love reading series, but it has taken a toll on me, so much so that even I’m in series crisis. It has gotten so bad lately that I’m selling my series because I don’t want to bother with keeping up with them anymore. I have several that I can’t even get back into because either 1.) I'm short on money 2.) I can’t buy the ones I am missing or 3.) I am so far behind that I don’t even want to bother at this point anymore.
So what do you think? Is reading a series in order worth it to you? 

13 comments:

  1. I will admit, If I am getting into a series late in the game, I am going to the Library to find the series and if they do not have the full series, I may not end up reading it at all.

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  2. I'm def a series reader, and it makes me wonder if I'm not a glutton for punishment. Usually after the sixth book, or so, things start to get stale.

    An example? The Dark Hunter series. They were my favorite when I first became obsessed with the PNR world, but after a while I got frustrated and bored :( Now that Styxx is getting his own book I considered going back to the series but there are 3 that I haven't read, so I know I would be lost.

    Oh, and then there is the Argeneau series. Good lord it's been going on forever! While I love Lynsay Sands and her writing there are just WAAAAY too many characters now. I've read every single one, but I can't even keep all of the characters straight anymore. LOL

    After a certain point an author should either 1. end the series
    2. start a spin off
    3. revamp it entirely

    Fantastic example of utilizing a change-up is The Midnight Breed series. By the 11th book things got stale and predictable, but with Adrian's newest release Edge of Dawn (releases Feb 26th. I got to read an ARC ;) she's totally changed the game! 20 years have passed and the book focuses on the new generation of adult Breed warriors. With the introduction of new characters, new bad guys, and a world changed by human realization that there are 'vampires' among us it's like reading something completely new.

    Wow, that was a long reply. I did mention that I love series. LOL

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  3. Oh, I messed that up :( Edge of Dawn is the 11th book, and I can't edit my comment dangit. LOL. Oh well, you get the idea of what I'm saying!

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  4. I have several series going on at a time. I don't always read a series in order, and sometimes it's just because of availability, other times it's just because the series got a little stale so I read ahead to see if it was worth continuing. Case in point - Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin's series. The early books are plagued with repetition but there is a really good story and an intriguing world. I quit reading the series at book 3 and skipped ahead to book 7. What a difference. The editing was tighter, the book was exciting, and I already knew about the spoiler in an earlier book. I will now go back to the books I've missed, just to fill in the blanks.

    There are several series out there that can be read out of order or as standalones. One that comes to mind is Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series. Once you understand the world (the author has a handy guide on her blog), the books can be read as a series or as stand alone books.

    And then there are the series that just go stale. For me, it was LKH's Anita Blake series. I just couldn't read past book 6.

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  5. I too am a series reader (and writer). I also admit that reading a series even though it states "stand alone" out of order is often difficult as I love to experiece the growth of the characters throughout the development of the books. When I first piced up J.R. Ward's BDB I started with the second book on a loan. Intrigued, I knew I had to go back and find book one - which I am happy I did. I think my biggest problem with series is having the patience to wait on the next volume to be published before I can continue on with the story. (Just my two cents worth)

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  6. I love series. It's a great way to get more into and out of your characters than what you can fit in one book. I think this comes from my love of epic fantasy (George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan are good examples). However, if the author waits too long inbetween books I get very annoyed. Since they are so in depth, I feel like I have to go back and re-read the whole thing so I don't miss anything in the newest edition. Many times I've found myself reading the first one, buying the rest as they come out, but not actually reading them until the series is almost done.

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  7. I love to read series.If the stories are written well, it doesn't matter where you start in the series, you won't be lost. Each book should make you want to read more about the characters in the series. I will, if possible, read the series in order because I want to see the characters grow with each story, even if they are only secondary or tertiary characters in later books.

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  8. I love series and have been a huge fan of Christine Feehan's Dark series ever since reading the very first book. That was actually the first series I ever started reading.

    The Dark Hunters are another series that I love. I know some say that the later books aren't as good as the first books but I have loved them all.

    Lets not forget The Lords of Deliverance series.. That is one of the best series out there in my opinion.

    So yeah, I love series. We get to know the characters better in each book, the sub characters sometimes get their own book and we get to know them better which I really like. There are some excellent series and if I happen to win a book in the middle of a series and I like the book, I'll go buy the books up to that point.

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  9. Yes and no. I do like series reading, but I'm just like you Laurie. I have fallen so far behind on a few that I absolutely love, but I'm not giving up yet. I just keep adding to the series as the books are published, hoping, hoping, hoping that I'll get around to them one day.

    There are some I too gave up on. Yes, LKH Anita Blake. UGH - what happened there? I will admit I did read that series until just the last few of them. All library books, thank goodness.

    Another one is CH Sookie Stackhouse. Too much Fae for me. I still have a few on the TBR I haven't read yet. I'll give them a shot one of these days.

    Most times I feel a series plays out after five or six books. Then it's time to call it quits. That's probably why I read across all genres of romance, fiction and non-fiction. Some things can be so repetitive, I need change.

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  10. I normally don't start a series midway because I don't like feeling left out in the cold. On the other hand, I have jumped into a series midway and have had no problems ascertaining what's going on. It really depends on how the world is set up, how the author writes and how well they communicate this to the reader.

    I'm a big series reader, but I have no problems quitting if I think the books are getting repetitive or there's no end in sight. I WANT there to be an end. JKR making the Harry Potter series stop at 7 books was the best possible decision she could have made, at least, to my mind.

    Keeping the books fresh, fun, and interesting after so many have come out is a damned hard skill... so I appreciate the series that I'll keep reading after X amount of books.

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  11. Generally, when I discover that a book I'm interested in is part of a series, I'll have a look at the first book, read reviews, etc, then decide if I want to spend my time (and money) on it. The few times I've started reading a series somewhere in the middle, I've regretted it. I can usually follow the story, but it makes much better sense if I start the series from the beginning!

    One of my pet peeves about series is when an author ends a book on a huge cliff-hanger, then waits years before getting the next book out, leaving us on pins and needles, wondering how the characters are going to get themselves out of the mess they're in.

    But generally, I'm a series junkie. I love getting better acquainted with characters who were only supporting players in previous books, and catching up with favorite characters from earlier books. Too often, when I read stand-alones, I find myself wishing the author would write a sequel!

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  12. @Cylver - Oh, I hate cliffhangers too. Thank goodness I started some of my favorite series when they already had a few books out. Example? Karen Marie Monings' Fever series. I didn't start it until all the books were released. If I would have had to wait a year in between books I probably would have gone insane. LOL

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  13. I have been reading the Mickee Madden series Everlasting, finished the 5th books only to find that the sixth book is not out there!! I am so ticked, because I am left hanging, and not able to find Dreams Everlasting. I am disappointed to say the least.

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