Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

This weekend I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book that had a beginning, middle and end.  All threads were wrapped up neatly in crisp bows and I walked away feeling satisfied and refreshed.  Even the secondary characters were all settled with no indication that there was any need for another book set in that world.  Though it was an amazing world I had been sucked into for a whole afternoon of pleasure, I was happy to leave with everything resolved and no niggling story questions to keep me up at night.

It’s a feeling I hadn’t experienced in quite a while and it made me wonder…am I the only reader who is getting burnt out on never ending series and books that leave you hanging even after three hundred plus pages & The End?

I understand the marketing behind extremely popular characters getting a six, seven or eight and beyond run.  I’ve dutifully followed some as far as 14. The Anita Blake series is up to 19 if Wikipedia can be believed.  (Yeah, that’s the one that lost me at 14.)

I can even better understand a good three or four book series that actually does have an end in sight.  (As soon as I can wrestle my Kindle from my sixteen year old’s hands, I’ll be reading Mocking Jay!)

But this trend of sequels and series has tested my endurance and I find myself actually shopping for books that will give me the whole shebang in one nice neat package–a complete experience I can walk away from feeling the nice warm glow I felt this weekend.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve long been a fan of secondary characters getting their own book.  I’ve written a few of those myself and have no plans to stop. There’s also something about a three or four books series that appeals to me.  Experiencing a series of mini-resolutions with the big story problem having its solution on the horizon?  I’m good with that. I’d be the first to rush out a buy a sequel to Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. Have been wishing for that opportunity for awhile…

But increasingly I find myself reluctant to lather.rinse.repeat.  I want it all and I want it now.  I want the whole hero’s journey including a return with the elixir which I will then gulp down and say ahhhhhh.  How about you?  Have you given up on any series before its finished?  How far are you willing to walk in a single character’s shoes?

6 Responses to “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”
  1. Amen! I’ve never been a huge fan of committing to a series, which is why I write stand alones even if they’re a secondary’s story. Sometimes I just want to read a book and not worry about all the rest of it 🙂 Good post!

  2. Jem says:

    I completely understand your point of view on this isssue; but I believe marketing books as a series is a strategy used by authors and publishers alike to boost popularity. I mean, the “Twilight’ saga wouldn’t have been so huge without a series after that first book, despite the ending of that first one being satisfying enough (for me, anyway) So what I’m thinking is that it’s probably more conducive for author-popularity and whatnot to create a series for their books; that way, they can gather a following of fans, and boom, popularity.
    That’s just my view, anyway (: Nice post!

  3. Barbara says:

    It’s a valid view, Jem. And I completely agree that the strategy has been working for years. I do have to wonder though if the strategy has peaked or, at times, been stretched too far. As a reader, I used to hunger for series and now…not so much:) I guess my thinking is that publishers should consider the appeal of the occasional standout standalone as an option in the ever more crowded series market.

    Sandra, you said it! The keyword is sometimes. I’m all for a good series. But I do find myself craving more standalone reads. Shopping for them has proved a challenge and that challenge is what inspired my post. Thanks so much for stopping by:>

  4. chandraryan says:

    What a timely post for me. I just finished reading a 600 some odd page book that not only ended on a cliffhanger but it also was lacking in resolutions (for me at least). It actually ended at a point that had me scratching my head, saying, “Huh?”. Now I’m left with the decision to commit to a 700 page sequel knowing there is a third book in the works, or just drop the series. And I’ve decided to drop the series in large part because of the end.

    I understand the rational behind leaving the reader hanging so they’re wanting more, but if it’s not done right, you might make the reader angry. They’ve invested time and energy with these characters.

    That said, I’ve read lots of series that have books that end on a cliffhanger or leave the reader wanting more and they’ve worked for me. But, like everything in writing, it has to be done right.

  5. Sherry says:

    I couldn’t agree more….Anita Blake lost me after about 12! I don’t even know how I made it that long. I also get burnt out just trying to keep up with a series….has another come out?! Have I missed it?!!! Its exhausting! lol Although there is some comfort in returning to a familiar world and characters, I love the simplicity of a stand alone to take a break from the stress lol!!

  6. Reader satisfaction is important. But also stamina and, as Sherry pointed out, release dates. Too many too soon can be just as much trouble as a long wait.

    The great thing about finding an entertaining, satisfying standalone is that you get a full experience in one sitting. And if you love the author you’ll look for her next entertaining, satisfying standalone:) A win for the reader and the publisher.

    I completely understand the popularity of series. But I do hope the standalone makes a comeback. I’m ready!

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