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.
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. However, 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.
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.
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.
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.