Thoughtful Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Is Fun Again. This week:
Favourite Series Type
There are lots of different types of series. For example, there are series that are just one long story (e.g., The Lord of the Rings), there are series that follow a character on a set of different adventures (e.g., The Dresden Files and the Sookie Stackhouse novels), and there are series that are a collection of stand alone novels all within the same universe (e.g., Star Wars Universe). What is your favorite type of series?
There’s another type of series not mentioned in the examples: the series that follow the same character(s) but where each book is basically a standalone. For example, the Hercule Poirot series and the Sebastian St. Cyr series are both mystery books, but while you can read Poirot in any order you want because he never changes, Sebastian goes through a lot of character development and finds out family secrets over the course of the books, so if you don’t read his books in order you wouldn’t understand why his personality changed or why he’s not speaking to his father or what’s up with his love interest. Out of the two, I think I like books like Sebastian St. Cyr better, because I like to see the characters’ evolution and how they get on with their life, while Hercule Poirot is flatter and two-dimensional as a character.
I read a lot of series, and they’re all different types, but I have to admit that my favourite (and the one I usually look for) is the series with an overarching arc but where every book is self-contained. There’s something satisfying in knowing that the fourth book is the one where Harry is entered in the Triwizard Tournament, or that Red Seas Under Red Skies is the book about pirates. Much more satisfying than saying, er, I think A Storm of Swords is the third ASOIAF book? It’s the one in which Robb… or did that happen in the previous book? There was a battle, or possibly a wedding, or something like that…
I like series that are one long story, I’m just not good at keeping characters and events straight in my head. It’s fine as long as I have all the books and I can read them one after the other, but if I have to wait a year (or more!) for the next instalment to be published, then I start getting confused, and by the time the book comes out I’ll have to read the previous ones as a refresher or risk being completely lost. And if you’ve read some of my reviews you may know that a pet peeve of mine is the pointless cliffhanger: I don’t like it when authors put a cliffhanger at the end of a book that’s simply a not-so-subtle way of saying BUY MY NEXT BOOK!!!
My favourite series (The Lies of Locke Lamora, Discworld, A Natural History of Dragons just to mention a few) have self-contained books, but I’m still looking forward to the next book because I grew attached to the characters and the author’s writing style is great and the plots are satisfying. I hate it when an author drops a bunch of plot hooks on me and doesn’t follow through with any of them, which is why I didn’t like Peacemaker very much: I felt like I was cheated, like I read a book but it was just a bit of a larger story and nothing at all was solved, it was all up in the air. I had the same feeling about the first Lunar Chronicles book, but at least that book had resolution for some of the plot points (like the ball) so I kept reading, and I’m glad I did because by now I’m hooked and I don’t even mind the cliffhangers, because I trust Marissa Meyer will be able to deliver.
That, I think, is the crux of the matter. If an author keeps piling up mysteries but never gives any answers, I become suspicious that they’re pulling a Lost and that they have no idea where the story is going. Instead, if the author gives me a self-contained first book with a satisfying conclusion, I’m more inclined to trust them with future cliffhangers because I believe they’ll be capable to write a good ending for their story.