Okay friends, I have a serious problem I want to discuss today: I am starting to dread series. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new series, old series, or somewhere in between, there’s just something about starting a multiple book adventure that makes me all sorts of anxious these days. And that series-ly (haha) sucks.
So I thought today I’d lay out some my issues with series to see if anyone has any advice for me, or at the very least to receive confirmation that I’m not alone in my struggles. Consider yourself part of my series support group. The Series-ly Sad Somebodies.
Issue #1: Increased Opportunities for Disappointment
One of my biggest issues with series is that each new book brings new opportunities for disappointment. No matter how well you know your reading taste, there is always a chance you won’t like a book. And that’s fine, especially when it comes to a standalone! You gave it a chance, it didn’t work out, no harm done.
But with series? I feel like the disappointment suffered from not liking a book is much more painful. You’ve gotten to know and love the characters and world from a previous book, and it’s hard not to expect more from them, to want the best from them. With each sequel you either find yourself happy the book has delivered (and thus sort of solidifying your expectations that the next book will be just as good, if not better), or you find yourself incredibly disappointed that this book wasn’t what you thought it would be.
It’s just come to the point where each time I pick up a sequel, I feel this little ball of anxiety in my chest. Please be as good as I hope you are, I say to the book before reading the first page. Please give me the same FEELS and the same AWE and the same HAPPINESS as your predecessor. (Unfortunately, the books don’t always listen to me, especially when it comes to the second book in a series.)
Issue #2: The Waiting Game
Even when anxiety isn’t an issue with series, the endless WAITING is. I like to wait to start series until the second book is published, but that’s not always possible depending on the hype. And that would be fine… if I liked playing the waiting game. (And I don’t. Patience has never been my strong point.)
Publishing is not a fast industry. Not only do you have to wait for the author to write the book (which can take ages, depending on the author), you also have to wait for the book to get edited and typeset and all that fun stuff. If book one ends on a cliffhanger and you want to read the next book right now because you just have to know what’s going to happen next – too bad! You have to sit and wait with everyone else (or at least until the ARCs are sent out).
I think I’m actually at the point where I’d prefer for a publisher to wait until an entire series is complete to publish it. I know that idea wouldn’t thrill everyone, but I think it’d be perfect for me. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about second book syndrome or cliffhangers or the hype. I could just read it all in one go, no waiting involved. It sounds like heaven.
Issue #3: So Many Decisions to Make
One of the issues with series that’s been driving me batty lately is how many decisions they create for a reader. You have to decide…
- Whether or not you want to read the series.
- If you should read the novellas that go with it.
- If you should binge-read the collection or take breaks in between each book.
- If you should read it right away or wait until all the books are published.
- If you should continue the series if you didn’t love a book.
That last decision has me wanting to smash my head against a wall as a reader. I hate the uncertainty that comes when deciding whether or not to continue a series. I’m split between so many series these days that it’s near impossible for me to finish them all, and even if I wanted to there’s no point in continuing a series I know I won’t like. (I refuse to allow myself to torture myself like I did with The Wolves of Mercy Falls series again.) But I’m finding it incredibly hard to know exactly when I should give up on a series. If it’s a first book that was just meh for me, do I continue in hopes that the sequel will fill in all the blanks? If it’s a second book that disappointed after a stellar first book, do I read the third in hopes it rebounds?
I really wish there was some fool-proof way for me to decide whether or not a series is worth continuing. Usually when I ask for opinions regarding a certain book, I just get mixed responses that don’t really help me settle on an opinion one way or another.
Issue #4: Limits Exploration of Other Authors
I’m a slow reader. Well, at least compared to a lot of other bloggers. It’s not abnormal for me to spend an entire month reading a book, especially if it’s one I’m not thrilled about (*cough cough* World After). This means that reading series takes away time from other authors whose books I could be reading.
If I can only read twelve books in a year and I’m in the middle of twenty series, that means it’s possible I’ll spend a whole year only reading series so as to mark those series off my list, meaning that debut authors or any authors whose series I’m not reading don’t get a chance. It sort of sucks.
Issue #5: They’re Everywhere!
My last issue with series is that, in many ways, they are unavoidable. I don’t read contemporary novels or romances, they’re just not my thing, and yet it feels like they’re the main two genres you need to explore if you want to escape the series plague that YA is facing. Every other fantasy or sci-fi novel I pick up is part of some series, whether it wasn’t originally intended to or not, so in many ways I feel like if I want to read the genres I love I just have to suck it up and continue reading series.
And really, even if the genre weren’t an issue for me, I’d say the hype is. Series get unbelievably hyped in the blogosphere. Not only do you get the usual book hype when they’re published, but you also get the subsequent and frenzied hype as each sequel is published – squeals about the cover, predictions about what will happen, fan art over previous books, excitement over rereads. There’s absolutely nothing wrong about the people producing all this hype (I probably would’ve never read The Raven Boys without encouragement from such fangirls), but it means that even when I want to avoid a series, I ultimately feel the overwhelming desire to read one because all the people are talking about it.
Seriously, this whole series thing is a problem. I used to only dread the second book in a series, but now I sort of dread them all. I need your help. Any advice, strategies, or just general pity would be greatly appreciated.