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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Soapboxing: When is it time to say goodbye to a series?

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When is it time to say goodbye to a series or an author? When I find a series or an author that I like, I get really invested in their books and characters. I want them to do well and I want the stories to be consistently wonderful. I don't think that these are unreasonable expectations, especially since I've never met an author who set out to write a deliberately terrible story. But although I wish for lots and lots of time with my favourite characters and series, I also think there's definitely a time to say goodbye to them. There comes a point when all of the best stories are told and characters should get their final story. It's good for the author, who gets to start working on something fresh, and it's good for readers, because there's nothing worse than stale storytelling.

So, when is it time to let go of a series? How do you know it's the end?

I've been thinking about this question a lot lately.Many of the series I follow have hit the double digits now, which is an amazing accomplishment. There are lots of talented writers out there but not everyone hits the 10 or 20 book milestone with a series -- some by their own choice but also some because of publisher decisions. For some authors, the double digit marker signals a revitalization of their world and characters but, for others, the length of a series begins to drag the books down.

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong (Otherworld #13) US CoverSome series keep getting better and better as they go (or at least maintain the same level of awesome as in the earlier books). Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series kept growing and changing and I was right there with her until the final page of THIRTEEN. Sure there were books I liked less than others *cough* PERSONAL DEMON *cough* but I loved the world and the series as a whole. I thought she did a great job of wrapping up existing storylines and I really like how the final three books read together. I hope she'll revisit the world one day but it's okay if she doesn't. I have thirteen wonderful novels and an assortment of novellas to read over and over again. And if she does pick up the pen for this series again, I'll be the first in line to order book #14.

Jennifer Estep is another favourite author who's about to double digits with her Elemental Assassin series. If you follow the blog, you've seen me wax poetic over Estep's writing so you know I'm a fan. One of the things that keeps The Spider by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #10)me interested? The characters keep evolving and the series-arc mysteries keep coming. There were a couple moments in HEART OF VENOM (book #9) where I felt like the pacing was very similar to earlier books in the series but I'm super excited for the tenth book, THE SPIDER, because it's kicking the series in the pants. Estep is taking us back to Gin's early days, and showing us how she became the Spider. With the next two books after that, we'll return to the present time and the mystery of M. M. Monroe but I think the flashback book will give the Elemental Assassin back some of the freshness and really spark some new reader interest.

I'm still completely hooked on Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series even though both of these series have progressed well Cold Days by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #13)past 10 books each. Singh keeps things fresh with new protagonists for each book, bringing back our favourite couples as secondary characters. Butcher keeps Harry Dresden on his toes in such creative ways and in an ever-expanding universe so I don't think I'll ever get tired of his words. I'm sure you guys can think of some other great long-running series that still have you as hooked as they did from the first page of that first book!

There are also some excellent shorter series that have ended or will end because the author has decided to stop. Jeaniene Frost's Cat and Bones books, for example, will end with UP FROM THE GRAVE. Up from the Grave by Jeaniene FrostI'm not really a Cat and Bones fan (I'm sorry!) and I know there are tons of readers out there who are saddened by this news but you have to think positively. Frost is ending the series on her own terms, which means you'll get a kick-ass final novel for the series. Sierra Dean's Secret McQueen series will also end after seven novels (though that 's still a ways away), Rachel Vincent ended her Shifters series with ALPHA (book #6) and Soul Screamers with WITH ALL MY SOUL (book #7), Ilona Andrews closed off The Edge books beautifully with STEEL'S EDGE, Vicki Pettersson said goodbye to Joanna in THE NEON GRAVEYARD (book #6), Richelle Mead ended the Vampire Academy and Dark Swan series with a bang...The list goes on and on. And what have we gotten after the end of these series? More beautiful books in creative new worlds. After completing Faythe and Kaylee's stories, Vincent gave us the amazing Unbound series and her upcoming work sounds just as interesting, Frost has her spin-off series so you haven't truly said goodbye to Cat and Bones, etc. And there's definitely something to be said for a really tight trilogy like The Hunger Games.

Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #10)On the other hand, there are series that have gone on a bit too long for me. I've talked before about how the Sookie Stackhouse books have really lost me. I haven't even bought DEAD EVER AFTER yet. I'm waiting until it's in the bargain pile for $5 because I'm not that interested in the end of Sookie's story but I want to have the complete series. (I'm a completionist.) And I keep buying Chicagoland Vampire and Anita Blake books even though they don't capture me the way they used to. Again, completionist, and the hope that these series will recapture their former glory.

So, what do you guys think?

What's your favourite long-running series? Are there series you can't stop reading even though you think they've gone downhill?

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Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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14 People left their mark' :

  1. I have to admit that I rarely follow long series - and because of that, I usually hang on to the very end, and it's usually a series I really like. I haven't kept up with The Otherworld series, but I read the first 3 books and really liked them, and would love to catch up.

  2. I was a huge fan of the Night Huntress series until the author started to come out with "spin offs" mid series that needed to be read in order to keep up with Cat & Bones' world. I didn't like that I needed to read those books in order to not feel lost when the next Cat & Bones novel came out. If you're doing a spin off, it should be a separate story, not one that the readers NEED to read when reading the original series. Sorry, I know that was a mini rant but I loved the series at first and now, I'm so fed up that I'm not really sad to see it go. I definitely feel like some series have dragged on far too long but then again, there are few series that I've seen through until the end.

    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous

  3. Larissa Ione's Demonica and Lords of Deliverance series as well as Gena Showalter's LORD's of The Underworld series are MUST reads for me. I hope they never end.

  4. I jsut startet following and reading series, so I can say that I'm interested in the ones I'm reading like Shadowhunters, Vampire Diaries, Lux, and so on.
    There is one thing I can't tolerate about one of these, Concerning Vampire Diarie's Lisa J. Smith stopped witing the series long time ago, but still ghost writers publish under her name. ANd it's not correct. I won't buy the books writtn by others!!


  5. Im also a fan of Cat & Bones but I'm glad the series is coming to an end. The last book have been slightly disappointing because I'm not really thrilled with their married couple dynamic. I'm thrilled with Vlad getting his own series though!

  6. The longest I have read is the In Death series and I'm still reading it; Nalini Singh's series is my second longest!

  7. What a great topic. The series that I just can't seem to get enough of is The Hollows by Kim Harrison. We just finished #11 and I do believe she only plans to do 13. I prefer it when authors finish series while there still going strong and I'm amazed at how long some series have managed to go. I haven't read it, by JD Robb has a series that's up to 37 books now. I can't imagine following even The Hollows that long and still loving it!

  8. I do love The Dresden Files, and hope Jim Butcher keeps writing those stories for years to come -- always something new and fresh, and the characters are so terrific, so it doesn't feel like he's ever just spinning his wheels. Likewise, I'm really loving the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I agree that Sookie should have been wrapped up way before it was (and honestly, I read Dead Ever After, and would have been just as happy with a 2-paragraph synopsis). I do appreciate when an author wraps up a series while it's still vibrant and when the ending makes sense in terms of tell a good, tight story (examples: The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger; Codex Alera by Jim Butcher; the Harper Connelly books by Charlaine Harris). Great topic!

  9. I agree. It's much easier to stay hooked when it's a short series. Hope you give the rest of the Otherworld books a shot. They read more like standalone novels in a lot of ways since there are changes in narrators.

  10. Thanks, Lisa! You came up with some great examples of shorter, well-written series. I haven't tried the Harper Connelly books yet but maybe it's time!

  11. Thanks. Beth! I must admit, I stopped reading The Hollows after Kisten died but I've heard great things about these last few books. Enjoy! Can't wait to read your reviews. :)

    I do read the In Death series and still love it but I think it's a bit easier to keep procedurals going because there's always a new case. I think it's a lot tougher under other circumstances, when the series premise doesn't naturally have that much room to grow.

  12. You bring up a good point I didn't really talk about ghostwritten series. There are some that are great, like Nancy Drew, but the whole L. J. Smith situation is a lot different. I understand why you no longer buy that series. It's not one I'm personally interested in but I wouldn't be happy if a favourite series kept going after the author was no longer involved, unless the author had died (like with the Wheel of Time books).

    Thanks for commenting.

  13. I've never tried Larissa Ione's work but I do enjoy a Lords of the Underworld novel every once in a while. I'm not caught up on the series but I l glad you're loving it!

  14. I mainly stick with series to the end, but if they become completely unenjoyable I stop them. I did with the Anita Blake too. The first 9 books were some of the best UF ever, but now I can't stomach them.