So, my most recent light read was His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik. After a drudgery of a book (that I didn't finish), I wanted something that flew by, light and witty and fun. For the most part, His Majesty's Dragon was that. And yet, when it was over, it felt as if it had hardly begun. That was, of course, because it is a series. The first book sets off the tale, but doesn't dive into the main action quite yet.
I put it down and felt rather frustrated. I didn't love it enough to want to devote several months of reading time to the whole series. And yet I liked it enough to not want to cross it off altogether. Book series often frustrate me in this way.
Sometimes a series is wonderful... when I love a book, I'm delighted to know that there is more to come, but it can be a letdown if later books lose their sparkle, if there doesn't seem to be anything new to do with the characters or the action seems forced. It's the same as when a television series I love jumps the shark - I wish they would have just packed it up when they were in their prime instead of leaving me with a tainted memory of the end.
It's frustrating, because I often identify a point at which I've been let down, disappointed, not sure I want to continue spending time on a series, but I feel invested in the characters... I want to know what happens, gosh darn it! And yet if the series goes on and on and on... at times I find myself no longer reading them from enjoyment, but from that desire for closure.
Well no more, my friends. No more. I have too much to read. Too many boundaries to widen to spend my time reading series that do not knock my socks off and drag me across the floor with excitement or at least teach me something along the way.
I've felt much pressure lately to read to improve my writing and to understand what's considered "good" and see whether or not I agree. I don't have time to dilly dally on vacant fare unless I love-love-love it.
So as to whether I love or loathe book series - well it depends. I like a sense of growth, change, an ongoing, deeper character arc - not just the "same old characters, new dilemma" like many mystery series. I also like to feel like there is a plan. A beginning and end. Not just an indefinite continuation like many fantasy series. And it's important to me that the follow on books are just as compelling or even more so than the first.
A few of my favorite series (many from childhood when a love of reading kept me up many nights):
- Erast Fandorin series by Boris Akunin
- Barker and Llewelyn series by Will Thomas
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Anne and Emily books by L.M. Montgomery
- The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
So how do you feel about series - love them or loathe them? What's your favorite series?
p.s. If you want to connect more on books, add me as a friend on Goodreads!