It seems like these days if an author doesn’t have a series in the works that is at least ten or more books, they can’t consider themselves a “real” author. I’m not referring to young adult series, since the longest series in that genre is possibly the House of Night series at ten+ books, including novellas. Trilogies seem to fit comfortably in the YA genre, with an occasional series topping out at six books. I’m talking about the series that go on and on with no apparent end in sight. Does J.D. Robb’s In Death series, currently at a whopping 35 books ring any bells? We all have a few of those series we are faithfully devoted to. These are books we’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into reading and we are determined to finish them out no matter what happens. A common phrase I hear in the blogging world is “Well, I’ve put this much time into it; I might as well finish ‘em.”
A book released this month, the sixth in a series that literally broke my heart at four books in. It’s an urban fantasy series based in Chicago, and the author did the unthinkable and killed off the hero. Up until then, I’d been a devoted fan. I’d bought all the books, whether in hardbound or e-book format, and I’ve recommended them to everyone I meet. When I finished the Book That Shall Not Be Named, I thought about it for weeks afterwards. I cried, I wailed and I stalked blogs and Goodreads for days commiserating with other readers who were as shocked and dismayed as I was. I felt betrayed.
I don’t know how many times I’ve checked out the fifth book from the library, only to bring it home, set it on my shelf and stare at it for three weeks. I couldn’t bring myself to read it. Now, with the newest release (book six) getting mixed reviews, I’m honestly not sure if I ever will. One of the plot lines I loved most about the series was about the tension between the hero and heroine. Then for the author to kill him off in the fourth book, to only grudgingly resurrect him in the fifth book (or so I’ve heard), to now in the sixth book have them in the same place romantically as they were in the first book… it’s a mess. And after the epic disaster of the fourth book, it seems like most readers have lost their enthusiasm for the series all together. I’ve been keeping the books on my to-read list just in case, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get over my feelings of betrayal. I have finally decided to ditch the series.
On the other hand, I’ve continued to read series that were long past their due date. The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich is the first that comes to mind. Yes, I’m one of those that have read all eighteen books. The books were highly entertaining up until about book six, and then it seems like Evanovich took a vacation or something until about book nine. Book nine to about book fourteen can be safely deemed semi-entertaining, but it just goes downhill from there. First of all, there’s this love triangle that has been going on for all eighteen books and Plum still hasn’t picked a guy. Not to mention the fact that Stephanie never progresses. She’s still working in the same dead end job that she’s terrible at, living in the same run down apartment building, and eating the unhealthiest food ever made and never gaining a pound. It’s like the characters in that series are ageless. The world around them may change, but the characters themselves do not.
Another series I killed off early on was the Anita Blake series by Laura K. Hamilton. I barely made it through the first book, but I persevered and ended up liking book two enough to continue. Until book nine, which took me ages to finish and it’s a miracle I did. Anita’s character changed in every book. She’d somehow discover some new power that was exactly what she needed to defeat the enemy and save the world. That is, until the next crisis arose and the process would be repeated all over again. Gag me.
So what’s the difference? Why do I kill one series after the fourth book, but continue to read all eighteen in a series that I become increasingly disillusioned with after each new read? What makes you kill off a series before it ends? Is it the author’s inability to continually deliver exciting material with each book? Do the characters lose a little of their fairy dust after awhile? Or is it simply a matter of all the new and exciting books constantly being released that distracts you from your old friends?
Whatever the reason, it’s always hard to part with books that have been in my life for an extended period of time. I think it’s appropriate to always try and take a moment to mourn the death of a series.
May they rest in peace.