The Series Conundrum: To Read or Not to Read

I’m sure that many of you are like me in that you can’t NOT finish a book. Even if you don’t particularly like it, it just feels wrong to put it down without getting to the end. However, I’ve recently discovered that not only am I the type of person who can’t not finish a book, I also can’t not finish a series. Considering that more and more romance novels are becoming part of a lengthy series, this phenomenon has become…well…a royal pain in my ass. I’ve gotten to the point where whenever I read a book with an interesting synopsis, I feel the need to add the entire series to my TBR list right away.

I get why authors do it. You’ve gotta drag out the interest for as long as possible so you can eventually sit in a bathtub full of 100 dollar bills. But before you start a new series you should really consider if it’s worth the inevitable time commitment to see it through to the end. Therefore, I’ve put together a list of the different kinds of series you may come across, so that you’ll know what to expect the next time you’re debating whether or not to read a series.

Trilogies

Word of advice: before you start a trilogy, double-check to see if all three books have been published. I’ll never forget this one time I was staying in a hotel for a business trip, and I finished a new release that I didn’t know was part of a trilogy. It had such an intense ending that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. When I discovered the second book wouldn’t be released for another year I swore like a sailor on shore leave, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the people in the room next-door to me heard my outburst of rage and despair. fairHowever, should you ever find yourself in this kind of situation, rest assured that romance trilogies tend to follow a very distinct pattern. Book 1 usually ends with the couple breaking up, book 2 sees them coming back together and the female lead discovering she’s pregnant, and in book 3 our hero will hyperventilate and mourn the loss of his bachelorhood before ultimately proposing. Therefore, even if all of the books in the trilogy haven’t been released yet, you kind of know where it’s headed. That being said, I still feel the need to read trilogies through to the end (even if they don’t knock my knickers off), as they only consist of 3 books, and there’s always the possibility of surprise. Be sure to check out the “Beauty from Pain” and “Driven” trilogies for some great reads!

The Stand-Alone Series

Ah, these are like little slices of heaven, and undoubtedly my favorite kind of series. The total number of books in this series type can range from 2 to 10, or even higher, but each book in the series can technically be read as a stand-alone. There might be a common theme you see in each book, and some characters from earlier novels might even make a reappearance later on in the series, but the plot itself doesn’t carry on from book to book, and each book will feature a different couple as the primary focus.

with meneighborPhatpuppyart.com  Complete

Why do I like these so much? Because when I’m done with one I usually don’t feel the need to immediately dive right into the next one. I can take a break to start another series, and come back to this one later on without having to worry if I’ve forgotten some key story-line. Personally, I still like to read them all in the order which they were published, just in case an event is referenced from a previous book, but it definitely isn’t required. Some of my favorite examples of this kind of series include “With me in Seattle” by Kristen Proby, “Neighbor From Hell” by R.L. Matthewson, and “On Dublin Street” by Samantha Young.

The Half-Books

I would really like to have a word with the douche-hole who came up with this one. Basically, a half book comes in between two major books in a series, and normally isn’t a full-length novel. It might focus on secondary characters, or act as an extended epilogue to the previous book. Unless I am head over heels in love with a particular series, such as “Beautiful Bastard”, I normally don’t waste my time with half-books. I’m of the opinion that if the author didn’t want to devote enough time to make this a main feature in the series, then why should I bother to read, or more importantly, buy it? In my experience, they rarely feature any crucial element to the story-line which you absolutely need to know before the next book, and sometimes aren’t as well written.

Now, there are exceptions to every rule, and sometimes authors will insert key information into a half-book which will be a major factor for the plot in the following full-length novel. One such series that did this quite often was the paranormal Night Huntress” series, where the author revealed that a main character had a long-lost sibling in one half-book, and that a secondary character was actually a demon in another. Honestly, I think it’s a dick move, and a sure-fire way to get me on your bad side. As for whether or not you should read every half-book in a series, I’ll leave that up to you.

The Continual Series

These are the series which stay on my Kindle for years, and the ones I am most hesitant to start. They follow the same two lead characters, who usually encounter new issues in each book, with some problems carrying through to multiple books in the series. There are some amazing series out there which follow this pattern, yet I have sort of come to resent them, as it’s pretty easy to get bored after a while. The most prime example of this is the “Outlander” series. I started this series back in high school, and I’m still not finished with it yet.

outlanderYeah, let’s just sit and admire this pic for a minute.

The problem is that whenever I finish a book in this kind of series, I usually don’t feel the urge to jump right into the next one. I’ll move on to a different series, and it might be months before I come back to this one. By that time, I will have forgotten who 75% of the characters are, and will only remember the main gist of the problem from the previous book. In addition, the first book is usually the best, and everything that follows can pale in comparison. In a way, this kind of series is almost like Downton Abbey; it can be so tempting to give up at times, but when the end is in sight you feel the need to hang in there and find out how everything will come together. I would advise you to think long and hard about how much time you’re willing to devote before starting this kind of series.

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15 thoughts on “The Series Conundrum: To Read or Not to Read

  1. Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing!

    I will admit that I do NOT finish a book. It just happens that I can’t be bothered to finish it. I have discovered, however, that there is a time and place for every book. So, if I do NOT finish a book, I leave aside for a while and pick it up a few months later, when I’m in a different time-frame/mood/universe. That usually works and I DO finish the book (of course, I have to start it from scratch because I have forgotten the characters/plot/setting, but that’s another story!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to shy away from series, because I disliked the never ending saga (like you said, the quest to fill a bathtub with $100s). But I’ve slowly changed my mind over time. I still don’t necessarily like romantic series (as it’s usually filled with waffling back and forth for the couple), but I’m totally with you on the standalone series. I love those. Especially when we see the hero/heroine from previous books in relationship bliss and also catch a glimpse of future love stories, in addition to the book’s main characters. 🙂 so much fun.

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  3. PREACH. I agree with you 100% on these. I love the stand alone series because I can read the at my own pace and at the same time, I feel like I have become friends with all the characters knowing a little bit of their history. My favorite series is Billionaire Obsession by J.S. Scott. I have 3 billionaire boyfriends out of the 5 books I have read 🙂
    I hate with a passion the half-books. I respect an author that will tell me in their book blurb that it a half-book. My response, “Thanks. Deuces. Will pass on this one if it is too expensive.”

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  4. The long time between sequels is really a throwback to traditional publishing when it would take at least a year for a book to work through a publisher’s process before hitting the stores.

    I’ll tell you a secret: Publishers typically won’t accept an author writing a series unless they have the first 2 books COMPLETED. Even then you’ll see a huge gap between releases.

    Nowadays, with the Internet and changes in publishing models (indie publishing, self publishing, ebooks) it’s easier to get books out faster.

    These days, an author would be smart to write more books faster rather than taking longer to write fewer books. I’ll use myself as an example. I just released the first of a trilogy today–but parts 2 and 3 will come out in the next 60 days, not the next 2 years.

    I don’t get the concept of “half-books” either. I think these may stem from an editor telling an author to cut that story line–and they do…only to develop a half-book later.

    Although I can and have written novels (under another name), I like writing shorter stories because I’m impatient and want to get on to the next story. 🙂

    Standalone series can be good, but get tiresome after a while, IMO. I like standalone stories/novels. As long as the story comes to a logical conclusion, dragging it out into a series can do more harm than good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. All so true! Haha, I read a fabulous freebie YA paranormal, Relentless by Karen Lynch, had to wait months for the second one, and the third one isn’t out yet. But definitely worth a re-read before the last one comes out so all good!.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great Post!

    I really loathe the concept of trilogies because I feel like they endlessly and needlessly drag out a story and I will not buy a trilogy unless all three books have been released. The downside to that is that I lose the initial buzz and the books sit on my Kindle unread while I move on to others – case in point is the Driven trilogy. I keep waiting for the perfect moment to read it and that has not come yet. I’m sure my rant has made my point:)

    I love stand-alone series too, but with my compulsion to read all of the books in the series, it can be impractical if the series extends past 8 – 10 books.

    Don’t knock the continual series until you have tried one that gets you hooked! A great example and my all-time favorite is J. D. Robb’s In Death series – 40 books and counting and each one brings something new to the series.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have not finished a book, but it has to be really bad. I have to have major issues with it on several points. This has happened recently with a book I had high hopes for. It’s rare for me, but it does happen. Anecdote: I once began reading a paperback by an author I’d never read before while I was waiting on a prescription in a drug store. It was so bad I closed it and left it underneath the chair I was waiting in.

    I have read only a few series of the trilogy and continual type. I, like you, love the stand-alones. Those are fun. Those are actually the kind I enjoy writing. 🙂

    Great post. I enjoyed the exploration of the types.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. As I was reading this I was laughing because you sound so much like me. I have been tired of seeing crazy amounts of series out there, but still can’t seem to stay away from them. There are some spectacular ones! I love Trilogies, but as you said they do seem to follow a crazy pattern. And Driven?? Omg one of the best out there. Have you read Slow Burn yet? The standalones…well sometimes I just drop them and then pick them up months later. Like the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I absolutely love the series but it still takes me a bit to go from book to book. And the long ones *eye roll* I totally agree. I haven’t finished Outlander either but I still love me some Sam Heugan 😉 Some really good series are the Mercy Thompson Series, Chicagoland Vampires, and Night Huntress. And they’re very long!

    Great post by the way. Very informing. Not many people know the differences!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I almost never don’t finish a book, and it is usually because of something unexpectedly abusive in the relationship. I do quite often put a book aside to finish later. I love series, and it is hard to wait for all the books to be released, but I can never make myself wait until that happens.

    Like

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