After the Thrill (of the series) is Gone

07 Mar

Have you ever loved a book and its characters so much that you never wanted it to end? I think most of us have had that experience. There is something compelling about losing ourselves in another world. There have been times when I’ve reached the end of a book or series and thought I would be happy to read an entire volume following one of the characters around as they performed mundane activities like doing laundry. I just wanted to spend more time with them and hang onto the magic for a little longer. That is, until I actually had the chance to do just that.

I recently began devouring a trilogy that was so intense I found myself looking ahead to see what was going to happen just so I could put it down for the night and get some sleep. The first book left me enthralled and I couldn’t wait to continue on with the series. The second one was good but had a lot of backstory that, while interesting, didn’t necessarily move the story forward. The third one . . . well, I’m still having a love/hate relationship with it. It has more backstory, which at this point (70%) in the book, I still haven’t figured out its purpose. I might even call it a prequel disguised as a third book.

Also, both the hero and heroine have done things which I consider irredeemable and completely out of character. Maybe the author will persuade me otherwise by the time I’m finished. More importantly, I have followed them through many pages of mundane activities and quite frankly, I’m disheartened to say that it’s ruined the magic.

I know there are many reasons why an author may continue a series beyond what should have been the end. But I have a new appreciation for all the authors that stopped while the magic was still lingering. Those are the books that I recall with fondness.

Have you read a series that should have ended sooner than it did?


Posted by on March 7, 2013 in backstory, books, reading


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20 responses to “After the Thrill (of the series) is Gone

  1. Liz Flaherty

    March 7, 2013 at 5:21 AM

    I won’t say it should have ended before it did, because the books stayed wonderful–I just lost interest in Nora Roberts’ MacGregors because the series seemed so long. I seem to have (aside from HARRY POTTER :-)) a four-book limit.

    • Jennifer

      March 7, 2013 at 7:41 AM

      Yes, maybe that’s it Liz. The second book in this particular trilogy had a perfectly wonderful ending that I would have been satisfied with.

  2. Janis McCurry

    March 7, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    Definitely in the case of long-running series. Might it be the publisher that demands its cash cow to keep going? I know an author who wanted to go beyond her very popular character series and she couldn’t get her agent or publisher to agree to any of her non-series proposals. Authors, too, like to stretch themselves and go to uncharted territory. Unpubs have the luxury to write what they want. We answer to more than ourselves once we’re published. Not that I don’t want to be. 🙂

    I think if I did a series, I’d have to be sure of how it ended, so I’D know it wasn’t forever.

  3. Jennifer

    March 7, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    I think in many cases it probably does have a lot to do with the publisher. I agree with you about knowing how it ended. I’ve rarely seen a series go beyond three and maintain it’s quality.

  4. Judith Keim

    March 7, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Yes, I have…I’m not sure why everything is thought of in three’s. Lots of trilogies could have been two books…

    • Jennifer

      March 7, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      That is so true Judith! Now that you mention it, Janis wrote a blog on October 22nd about the number 3.

  5. stephanieberget

    March 7, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    It’s a fine art knowing when to quit, anything. I like Janis’ idea of knowing your ending before starting a series.

  6. Jennifer

    March 7, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Yes Steph, I guess that does apply to many things.

  7. Corina Mallory

    March 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    I have definitely had this experience! In some cases (*cough* Elizabeth George *cough*) I think the problem is that the author just reached a point (she’s in her 80s) where she no longer had any interest in either editing herself or being edited and had the clout to be published anyway. I generally have no problem dropping a series when the magic is gone, but for some reason I am holding out to the bitter end with the Sookie Stackhouse books. Thankfully that bitter end is just around the corner and I can stop anticipating/dreading the release of a new book each May.

    • Jennifer

      March 7, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      I couldn’t get into the Sookie Stackhouse books but for some reason I’m addicted to True Blood (the HBO series based on the books). Usually it’s the other way around.

  8. marsharwest

    March 7, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    One of my favorite authors is Carla Neggars, and she has a slew of books about two families and their friends and how they intertwine. The books were set predominantly in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Loved the setting and the stories which were basically romantic suspense, but with lots more story to them than a category. Nobody does descriptions like Carla. I really felt those cold winds blowing. The other locale for the stories was Tennessee. I hated to see this series (that I didn’t even realize at first was a series) end. They were stand alone books, with just a bit of throw back to other stories. When I got to those spots, I thought, “Oh, I remember that, or him, her.” It was like running across an old friend.
    I hope my books are the kind that you hate to close the last page on, but that’s quite a trick. Mostly, if the reader enjoys it while reading, I’m be happy.
    Very interesting post, Jennifer.

    • Jennifer

      March 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Yes, it is quite a trick. In my opinion, it may be the most important one. A reader will forgive many things if the story is captivating enough.

  9. maryvine

    March 7, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    I guess I don’t read many series books. I know I’ve read series by Nora Roberts and I have liked them. Sometimes, I’ve noticed that I like the first one and the last ones best. I finally found a vampire story she wrote some years back in a series that I loved. Again, it was the first and the last books mainly because there was more about the vampire in those two.

  10. Jennifer

    March 7, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    In the last couple of years I’ve found myself reading a lot of Dystopian YA books. It seems like they are all trilogies.

  11. MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

    March 7, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    I have read series like this. I think sequels are tricky — they have to deliver on the same promises/emotions that the first book established, but they also have to be new and exciting.

  12. Jennifer

    March 7, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Yes, I suppose the challenge is to deliver more of the same without being redundant.

  13. Lynn Mapp

    March 7, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I love series books. It’s always wonderful to check in on old friends. There is a really old book by Sandra Brown. It was a western, unusual for Ms. Brown. The first book was wonderful. For some reason she did a sequel about the H/H’s daughter. She did the unthinkable. She killed the hero from the first book. Boo. Hiss. If the second book had been nearly as good as the first, perhaps, (I doubt it), I could have gotten over it. I never did. I can’t believe someone didn’t stop her.

  14. Jennifer

    March 7, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    She what???!!! That IS unthinkable. That’s exactly what I mean. As much as you loved the first one, now your left with the disappointment of the second one.

  15. Peggy Staggs

    March 8, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I read and write series. And I love them. BUT, there is a point when it’s time for a series to fade into the sunset. I can think of one very popular series that should have ended at book 5. It would have saved me some dollars, and the effort it took to slam book 6 against the wall. I hate when that happens.

  16. Jennifer

    March 8, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    It’s especially frustrating when one of the earlier books ends on a perfect note. In spite of it all, I love series too.


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