Welcome to Bookie Brunch! Today’s guests are Kiwi, Velvet, Carin and Gabriel, who were nice enough to join me for a bit of lively discussion. Carin and Gabriel are running a bit late, so I believe we'll get started and they'll arrive when they can.
Today's Brunch discussion question is: Have you ever stopped reading a series due to unexpected or disappointing changes in the characters, writing, etc.? Do you consider going back, or do you give up on the series?
And the related topics to consider: Do you think series should be never-ending (going well past 10 books), or do you think it keeps it fresher for an author if they stop after a certain number of books in a series?
First up is Kiwi, who has a lovely blog over at Assortments.I usually read entire books even if its a painful process. But series I just stop if it becomes a drag. I often avoid certain books simply because they are a series. I prefer stand-alone novels or a trilogy at the most.Why? More than 3 often results in a drag and I often loose track of events by the time i get a copy of the next book.Vampire Academy is the longest series (obviously Harry Potter aside) that I liked and sustained my attention. I stopped reading the Hush Hush trilogy (by Becca Fitzrpatrick) .I was content with how it ended and the whole task of tracking down copies of the other books seems like such a pain. I often consider going back to finish series, but I only do it if the book is easily accessible to me! I am lazy that way. *sheepish grin*
Never ending..hmmm..I think this varies depending on the series. For example books like Sugar Secrets, Dawson's Creek, Sweet Valley High, University and so on go on forever!!! And as though that wasn't enough, they have several extras too! Yet they are still sold and lent out by libraries and read by people (such as me!)So it all depends on what sort of story the author has in mind. If its one plot that stretches for miles then the author needs to stop! All good things come to end. Its awful when a plot is squeezed like crazy for an entire series. I think limiting a series to about 3 or 4 is more than enough, it keeps things fresh as you suggested!And also I think its important to leave stuff to the reader's imagination too!
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Velvet has a delightful blog over at vvb32 Reads, so let’s see what she has to say, sitting down with a hot cuppa home-made mexican mochaccino:
I have not read very many book series that go beyond 3 books. The Harry Potter series is a current one I can name that held me to the very end. The seven books are the most I have read in a series.
The book series that I attempted and stopped were in the mystery genre. The reason for stopping related to getting tired of the character and lack of growth.
Once I stop a series, I do not go back. Simply because there are too many other books to be devoured.
A series should have an end. However much I may love characters and their situations, I like a sense of closure.
Well said, Velvet!
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Pausing a moment to sip on my own glass of iced tea.....
Yes, I have stopped reading series when it seems like the writing or the characters have changed a bit too much for my taste. A prime example of this is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. When I was first introduced to the series, it was in the early stages, and Anita was written as a no-nonsense woman who was a necromancer by trade, and who didn’t mess around with vampires (unless she was kicking their butts). As the series continued, she started to develop a relationship with Jean-Claude, the vampire Master of the City. Then, she started dating (at the same time), Richard, a werewolf. However, she was a still a no-sex, butt-kicking, no-nonsense kind of woman. Then, as the series kept going, things really changed.
If you begin this series now, with some of the more recent books, Anita is more focused on her relationship with Jean-Claude (the thing with Richard didn’t really work out), and all of the various were-creatures she is connected to. She has apparently found quite of bit of power through sex, so now, she’s having loads of sex, and she’s the Alpha of just about every kind of were-animal you can think of. It’s hard to explain - you’d have to read the series to understand.
Frankly, I stopped being interested in Anita a few books back. Instead of the story concentrating on an issue, or a mystery Anita was involved in, it seems like the stories concentrate more now on relationships. Sure, there’s maybe some big issue going on, but the last book I read felt like it was mostly steamy sex scenes interspersed with occasional bits of plot. Thin plot. And did I say steamy? Not to say that steamy sex scenes necessarily bother me, but I need mostly plot and an occasional bit of sex, not the other way around. Anita never seems to just be a smart, no-nonsense kind of person any more to me -- it seems like all of her power is wrapped up in sex, and I just don’t find that interesting.
In Hamilton’s other series, the Merrie Gentry books, sex is a main part of the storyline from the get-go, and I still read this series. The difference from the Anita books is that this series has been consistently like this, where the Anita series did a complete turn-around from where it started. I’m not interested in going back to Anita, so if I re-read any of the books, I read the ones from the first half of the series (which is up to #20 now with the newest book).
And on the related topic --- I think series should eventually end. While it can be disappointing to have a series end, I feel like some series go on way past when they should have met a natural death. Sometimes, I feel like an author just keeps writing because a character is popular, but it feels like when I read the story, that their heart just isn’t in it any more. At that point, it just feels like the stories are being cranked out, and that makes them lose their appeal.
Trilogies, while they can be frustrating (especially if you like an author like Mercedes Lackey, who writes trilogy upon trilogy. Seriously - see this link), at least force the author to have some resolution in a story. I’d rather be left wanting more than be bored with a character and wish they’d meet some sort of end.
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As I mentioned, Carin and Gabriel are running a bit late, so please look for their answers in a bit.
Carin's just joined in (she has an interesting and creative blog over at Caroline Bookbinder) -- here's what she had to say:
I am not a big reader of series, but I have read a few. Particularly in children's books. Right now I am on book 3 of the Anne of Green Gables series. And the Little House series is one of my all-time favorites. But I think what I like about these books is that the main characters do change. Over the course of the series these girls grow up and become women.
Another series I adore is the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde and the character of Thursday also changes occasionally dramatically.
Another thing I like in a series is when subsequent books really continue the story in the earlier books - almost like one book was split into multiple parts ( although I'm not a big fan of a book ending on a cliffhanger) such as in The Pillars of the Earth and the North and South trilogy. Again since these have through-plots, the characters should continue to grow and develop.
I think one reason why I am not a big fan of series overall is because a lot if series tend to be like the Sweet Valley High books of my youth, where no one ever grows up or ever changes. The characters are still as true to their original traits from book 1, if you pick up book 20. It makes sense why children gravitate towards these kinds of series a la Nancy Drew, with their stability and prefictability but those aren't the books we revisit and reread. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is another good example of a teen series which will stand the test of time. The 4 girls grow up and mature, which is a reason why I think these books will last.
But I will say that a big reason why I often only read the first book in a series is that I fear I will not like a second book nearly as much as the first. I worry that an author who only meant to write one book has been inspired by their success to capitalize on it, but the isn't the kind of inspiration I want in a book. So if a book was originally written as a stand-alone, like In Her Shoes or Le Divorce or Plainsong, I will usually stop there. When I haven't, such as reading the sequel to The Alienist or Under the Tuscan Sun, I have often been disappointed.
Because if my love for character development, I fear I will always disappoint my father and likely will never pick up Janet Evanovich or Lee Child. I fear their characters are pretty much the same from one book to the next. But that won't stop him from recommending them!
Thank you, Carin!!!!!
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You’re invited! Visitors: Please share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section, so they can be included in the discussion. This is an active discussion though Wednesday, so feel free to stop by again later on. And we have a bit of a special bonus for this Brunch ---- courtesy of the lovely Sasha Soren! Check it out --- a cute and colorful tote bag, wraps up into small strawberry for easy carrying on key chain or backpack -- and it is a delightful sunshiney orange!!!!
Details: To win this cute book bag, please leave email info and thoughtful or interesting comment below. A winner will be picked at random. If host and guests agree that a specific visitor comment is substantial, outstanding, or in some other way has particular merit, they can override random.org
pick at their discretion. U.S./Canada.
Through Aug. 31, 2011, 12 midnight EDT.
Brought by: Sasha Soren , the author of one my favorite books, Random Magic
Brought by: Sasha Soren , the author of one my favorite books, Random Magic
Now, a bit more on the Brunch, itself -----
Bookie Brunch is a weekly meet-up, held every Sunday, where book bloggers can have a cup of tea and chat about a particular bookie question of interest. The discussion is open from Sunday through Wednesday, and you’re welcome to drop by any time to add your opinion or read what other people have to say. This discussion is open as well to general readers or bloggers in a different field, authors, publishers and publicists.
Courtesy guidelines: Thank you for coming! All thoughtful comments will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers. In fact, you’re encouraged to talk about it and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials. We’d like everyone to have a nice time. Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.
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