Bookish Thoughts: I’m Starting to Dread Series

Bookish Thoughts: I'm Starting to Dread Series

Bookish Thoughts: I'm Starting to Dread Series

Okay friends, I have a serious problem I want to discuss today: I am starting to dread series. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new series, old series, or somewhere in between, there’s just something about starting a multiple book adventure that makes me all sorts of anxious these days. And that series-ly (haha) sucks.

So I thought today I’d lay out some my issues with series to see if anyone has any advice for me, or at the very least to receive confirmation that I’m not alone in my struggles. Consider yourself part of my series support group. The Series-ly Sad Somebodies.

Issue #1: Increased Opportunities for Disappointment

One of my biggest issues with series is that each new book brings new opportunities for disappointment. No matter how well you know your reading taste, there is always a chance you won’t like a book. And that’s fine, especially when it comes to a standalone! You gave it a chance, it didn’t work out, no harm done.

But with series? I feel like the disappointment suffered from not liking a book is much more painful. You’ve gotten to know and love the characters and world from a previous book, and it’s hard not to expect more from them, to want the best from them. With each sequel you either find yourself happy the book has delivered (and thus sort of solidifying your expectations that the next book will be just as good, if not better), or you find yourself incredibly disappointed that this book wasn’t what you thought it would be.

It’s just come to the point where each time I pick up a sequel, I feel this little ball of anxiety in my chest. Please be as good as I hope you are, I say to the book before reading the first page. Please give me the same FEELS and the same AWE and the same HAPPINESS as your predecessor. (Unfortunately, the books don’t always listen to me, especially when it comes to the second book in a series.)

Issue #2: The Waiting Game

Even when anxiety isn’t an issue with series, the endless WAITING is. I like to wait to start series until the second book is published, but that’s not always possible depending on the hype. And that would be fine… if I liked playing the waiting game. (And I don’t. Patience has never been my strong point.)

Publishing is not a fast industry. Not only do you have to wait for the author to write the book (which can take ages, depending on the author), you also have to wait for the book to get edited and typeset and all that fun stuff. If book one ends on a cliffhanger and you want to read the next book right now because you just have to know what’s going to happen next – too bad! You have to sit and wait with everyone else (or at least until the ARCs are sent out).

I think I’m actually at the point where I’d prefer for a publisher to wait until an entire series is complete to publish it. I know that idea wouldn’t thrill everyone, but I think it’d be perfect for me. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about second book syndrome or cliffhangers or the hype. I could just read it all in one go, no waiting involved. It sounds like heaven.

Issue #3: So Many Decisions to Make

One of the issues with series that’s been driving me batty lately is how many decisions they create for a reader. You have to decide…

  • Whether or not you want to read the series.
  • If you should read the novellas that go with it.
  • If you should binge-read the collection or take breaks in between each book.
  • If you should read it right away or wait until all the books are published.
  • If you should continue the series if you didn’t love a book.

That last decision has me wanting to smash my head against a wall as a reader. I hate the uncertainty that comes when deciding whether or not to continue a series. I’m split between so many series these days that it’s near impossible for me to finish them all, and even if I wanted to there’s no point in continuing a series I know I won’t like. (I refuse to allow myself to torture myself like I did with The Wolves of Mercy Falls series again.) But I’m finding it incredibly hard to know exactly when I should give up on a series. If it’s a first book that was just meh for me, do I continue in hopes that the sequel will fill in all the blanks? If it’s a second book that disappointed after a stellar first book, do I read the third in hopes it rebounds?

I really wish there was some fool-proof way for me to decide whether or not a series is worth continuing. Usually when I ask for opinions regarding a certain book, I just get mixed responses that don’t really help me settle on an opinion one way or another.

Issue #4: Limits Exploration of Other Authors

I’m a slow reader. Well, at least compared to a lot of other bloggers. It’s not abnormal for me to spend an entire month reading a book, especially if it’s one I’m not thrilled about (*cough cough* World After). This means that reading series takes away time from other authors whose books I could be reading.

If I can only read twelve books in a year and I’m in the middle of twenty series, that means it’s possible I’ll spend a whole year only reading series so as to mark those series off my list, meaning that debut authors or any authors whose series I’m not reading don’t get a chance. It sort of sucks.

Issue #5: They’re Everywhere!

My last issue with series is that, in many ways, they are unavoidable. I don’t read contemporary novels or romances, they’re just not my thing, and yet it feels like they’re the main two genres you need to explore if you want to escape the series plague that YA is facing. Every other fantasy or sci-fi novel I pick up is part of some series, whether it wasn’t originally intended to or not, so in many ways I feel like if I want to read the genres I love I just have to suck it up and continue reading series.

And really, even if the genre weren’t an issue for me, I’d say the hype is. Series get unbelievably hyped in the blogosphere. Not only do you get the usual book hype when they’re published, but you also get the subsequent and frenzied hype as each sequel is published – squeals about the cover, predictions about what will happen, fan art over previous books, excitement over rereads. There’s absolutely nothing wrong about the people producing all this hype (I probably would’ve never read The Raven Boys without encouragement from such fangirls), but it means that even when I want to avoid a series, I ultimately feel the overwhelming desire to read one because all the people are talking about it.

Seriously, this whole series thing is a problem. I used to only dread the second book in a series, but now I sort of dread them all. I need your help. Any advice, strategies, or just general pity would be greatly appreciated.

How do you feel about series? Do you have a strategy for deciding whether or not to join a series, or when to give one up? HELP A SISTER OUT!


Read 28 comments

  1. I wish I could help with your series dread, but I can’t because I feel much the same. I find myself just putting off finishing a series because I’m not sure I’ll like it. I sometimes think part of my issue is my reading mood changes from when I discover a series and when the last book is released, so I take months to read the last book. I also like to reread a series to refresh my memory with each new book release, but I don’t always have time for that! I know I could just trust I’d remember as I read, but that is not the kind of person I am.

    I think we’re all just becoming a bit fatigued with series in general, so the dread you feel upon each new book release is part of that. It doesn’t help that too often I’ve been disappointed by 2nd and 3rd books in a series. I never learn from my mistake though, I’ll pick the first book up in a series all the time. I do tend to prefer to wait for the entire series to be released, or at least for the 2nd book to be close to publication before I pick one up, but that isn’t always possible. It means I have less waiting to do, but I think having the anticipation for the whole series helps to motivate me to read each book.

    • Yes, I definitely think that’s an issue as well! With so much time between each book in an installment, there’s a greater chance that we’ll be different READERS when we get around to reading a sequel. So even if the book fits everything we wanted after reading the first book, it may not be what we want as a reader at that point in time. It’s all just so tricky!

      Oh, and the rereading thing. I used to be like that too – I’d either want to reread all the previous books before reading a sequel or just wait until all books are published to binge read it in one go. I’ve stopped worrying so much about that though. I just read them when I read them, and use Recaptains to help freshen my memory.

      • I have suffered the changing as a reader thing a couple of times with series, it is awful. Sometimes I try and force myself to finish a series simply because I’ve committed so much time to it already it feels wrong to give up halfway through, but it is never the same.

        And I have heard of Recaptains, and I do know I should probably use it, but I always end up feeling so committed to rereading, mostly because I want to get that feeling of love back for a series, but it may be something I have to give up on. I may have to accept I don’t always have the time to reread a series when I new book comes out. It’s hard, though, I am so set in my ways.

  2. I am getting a little tired of the “everything has to be a series” trend myself. I like series sometimes, but when there feels like there is nothing BUT series, I start to feel like I am just being milked for money. So many of them could have been a really stellar single book that have just been drawn out into something longer.

    Of course, sometimes they are awesome, but they are a big commitment. Of late I have found stand alone books just really, really refreshing.

  3. I definitely support point number 2. I would love to see publishers experiment with publishing a series in one go , the same way Netflix has experimented with putting out a whole series in one go. I know it might seem too risky but of they’ve already setup a multi-book series contract and an author is willing to hold out until they’ve finished the lot for a proper return, then why not gvie it a go? Giving consumers the opportunity to binge read or binge watch something is great fun. That’s why I love reading bind-up/omnibus copies of older series’.

  4. Yeah, these days it seems like every new book is part of a series or a sequel, I think it’s just become a fact of life now. I can’t believe we’ve reached a point where standalones are hard to find. I definitely think series require more dedication, and it seems like sometimes books are dragged out for the sake of writing just that extra book or delaying the gratification (*cough* BLOODLINES *cough*) but yeah, it can definitely be annoying after a while! Lovely discussion post Asti!

  5. I totally get where you’re coming from, Asti! I’m good with the waiting (random thought: imagine how good I’d be in a torture chamber. I could wait out the enemy virtually forever!), partially because there are always other books to takeover my thoughts, but other than that, I completely agree!

    I mean, how freaking irritating is it to read a book in a series and hate it, but you still continue with the series because you have issues with resolution. It just happened recently with the Darkness Gathering trilogy which I know is a huge hit, but just didn’t work for me, BUT I STILL FOUND MYSELF CONTINUING AND I COULDN’T STOP MYSELF BECAUSE I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING! :/ And yeah, I’d heard so much about Armstrong that I was hoping it would get better.

    I usually save myself the trouble of deciding whether or not to read novellas, and just skip the whole lot of them unless they come very highly recommended, like Assassin’s Blade. Do you know, I’ve never thought about how it would be if all the books were released at the same time! I imagine it would be absolutely brilliant, like an overload of amazing worlds that you can just sink into and revel in ♥. It wouldn’t be too good from the marketing pov, though, I imagine.

    Starting a new series is like a huge commitment, so I’m pretty careful when I make the decision, counting on trusted opinions and reviews to help me out. I also have the habit of waiting until a couple of books have been published before I start, or at least when the second book is close to release, so that I don’t have too long to wait.

    Okay, this is like a mini post in itself. I talk too much *facepalm*

  6. It’s the waiting for the next book in a series that is the problem for me. I always want the next one right away.

    I get your point about standalones always seeming to be Contemporaries.

    Wish I could help you out but I kind of like series – I like being able to live in that world for as long as possible.

  7. Okay, obsessed reader over here, so I’m going to push a book on you. Read The Summer of Chasing Mermaidsby Sarah Ockler, which is out on June 2. It’s a beautiful standalone, and it gets so many things right, like diversity and sex-positivity and even LGBT in children. I love it, it made me check out her other books, and I hope you read it and it eases off some of the series stress.

    And if there’s one reason why I love waiting for publishers to release all the books is that I can wait for a box set. Because if there’s a box set, there’s also usually a novella or some other extra thrown in. I don’t have to hunt for the other books, and I can binge! I’m just making a really big investment, though.

  8. My problem with series is just forgetting about them, and my OCD of needing to read the entire series (though it’s getting less serious because I’m positively drowning in series). So I’m with you on having publishers play with the idea of publishing an entire series at one go. Or at least at shorter intervals, rather than a year or more. It also encourages me to read novellas. Right now, I really don’t like novellas because I can’t even deal with the many books of the many series, let alone novellas. (Well, maybe sans Fairest, only because I really like the book end pages!)

    I *have* started reading contemporaries to get away from my binge reading of fantasy/sci-fi because they are so easy to get through since they’re just one book!

    Although! Referring to your first point, a series also increases chances for improvement, surprises, and development! I was alright with Shadow and Bone, not really into Siege and Storm, but I am in LOVE with Ruin and Rising. So I guess there’s always a flip side to things! ;)

  9. Oh, Asti. I love you and your series-ly adorable sense of humor. xD

    I was excited about this post as soon as I saw the title, because I sort of feel the same way. The opportunities for disappointment are definitely a factor for me. Especially since I feel like a series is a commitment, and once I’ve started one, I like to see it through to the end. D:

    As for the waiting… at least we have a ton of other books to keep us occupied during the wait! But yeah, I’ve started taking a page from your book (hehe), and with some series, I’m just waiting until it’s completely published before I even start the first book. It’s not like I’ll have nothing to read in the meantime!

    All the decisions to make? That’s exactly why I made series my focus this year, and began using FictFact to help me keep track of all the series I’m reading. If I give up on a series, I tag it as Abandoned, and mark the rest of the books in that series as Skipped, so they no longer show up in my queue, and I can forget them forever. It’s actually pretty liberating! And if I decide I don’t want to read the novellas in a series? I mark those as Skipped, too, and never look back. :D

    I feel you, too, about the quantities of series out there. I have to search high and low, far and wide, to find standalone novels that aren’t contemporary/romance! There’s one coming out this fall that sounds pretty awesome though: Dream Strider. :O

  10. Oh Asti, your pun usage + alliteration is A+ hahaha. I LOVE IT.

    I feel you on this! I’ve been reading less series this year unless I’ve already bought them and frankly, I’m not interested in most new series now because they don’t really interest me. Plus the hype is a major buzzkill for me personally. I’ve been reading less than the past two years and it’s just been harder to commit to reading books let alone continue a series. I’d much prefer to read a standalone and leave it at that.

    I wish I had some tips or a strategy to suggest to you! For me I’ve just started to become indifferent to what the community usually likes and just go with what I like.

  11. I’m a bit over series as well. There are a few exceptions of course, but for the most part, I just want to read standalones, or perhaps companion novels. That’s why I’ve been reading more romance lately, I think. In part anyway.

    But that said, I’m so excited for Winter and the Raven King!

  12. Yes to all of those reasons! My big one though is that I’m rubbish at finishing them. Even if I read no other book but series I’m already in the middle of for the remainder of the year, I still would not be done. So now I’m very reluctant to start any more until I cross a few of my existing ones off my list.
    And the disappointment when you adore book one and then every book after that just goes downhill ala Divergent. So much sadness when that happens and it makes me wary about declaring my love for a series on the basis of one book.

  13. I totally get where you’re coming from, I’m starting to actively avoid starting new series because I have so many unfinished, but at the same time, I feel like I have to avoid all the new releases because, as you said, EVERY book seems to be a part of a series at the moment. I would love to see some more non-contemporary standalones being released! And I HATE feeling disappointed after reading a sequel. I’m lucky that I haven’t had too much of that this year, but it’s bound to happen, which sucks.

  14. I like series because I like fantasy, and as you pointed out, it’s almost impossible to find standalones in that genre. I also appreciate when authors have more time to develop the story and play with the characters. I do agree, though, that series often end up being disappointing. Part of the problem these days seems to be that authors are forced to write sequels too quickly or are forced to write them period. I definitely felt that way with the Hunger Games, which started out amazingly and ended so, so badly. You can always tell when an author is really stretching a story.

    I usually finish series, but if I get to the point where I don’t care AT ALL about the characters, I know it’s time to stop. “Will I even flinch if so-and-so dies?” is a good way to decide. That’s how I know I won’t read the sequel to An Ember In An Ashes, for example. :)

    I think for you, waiting until the whole series is published might be the way to go. That way a lot of the hype will have died down, and you can get a sense of people’s impression of the series as a whole and decide if it’s worth it.

    Not terribly helpful, I know! I’ll keep my eye out for fantasy standalones. I *think* Uprooted is, but I wouldn’t swear by it.

  15. I totally agree with you on this, especially the fact that they are everywhere! Sometimes I read a series or even a duology and I think “This did not have to be a series!” I hate the waiting game so much!

  16. I feel this on a deep level. Series can be great, but more often they are SO exhausting. And when it’s been forever since I’ve read the first book, I’ll often have to o back and reread before I can continue, which sucks even MORE time out of my life. And while I do read some contemporaries, fantasy/sf is definitely my favorite and most common genre to read, and I JUST WANT STANDALONES. I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR EVERY BOOK I READ TO BE A SERIES.

  17. While I’m not exactly for only publishing a series only once it is finished (I think this would probably cause a lot a problems with sales), some of these issues really are so frusturating! Second book syndrome is definitely what annoys me the most, and usually is what stops me from completing a series.

    My sister is waaaaay worse with series than I am though — every time a hand her a good book to read she finishes it and comes back to me saying, “Why did you give me a book that doesn’t have a sequel out yet?!” I don’t try to, of course, but they really are just everywhere! (Also because she doesn’t read many contemporaries just like you.) She hasn’t really come up with any solutions though…

  18. It’s unbelievable HOW MANY SERIES there are right now! Like every book I read I thought was a standalone, but it turns out to be a series! And it sucks because it’s mostly with fantasy books because of ALL THE WORLD BUILDING.

    I am in the middle of so many series, and I just tell myself that I will one day get to them all. I even decided to get one book from the library that’s second in a series.

  19. I feel the same way about series books. I love a lot of series and I always look forward to the next book but it is anxiety-making to wait and wait and wait and then wonder if it’ll live up to your expectations. It’s refreshing to read a fantastic book and have it be a stand-alone. Yeah, I loved it and would want to read more of the world, but at least I know it’s great and it’s done and it won’t disappoint me. I wouldn’t want to stop reading any of the series that I love but there’s always the chance that it and my interest is just going to go downhill. I think I’ll give a series two, maybe three books (depending on how many great books there were previously) before I’ll give up on a failing series.

  20. Oh man! I’ve heard of this series fatigue before, but unfortunately (fortunately?) I haven’t experienced it yet (new blogger here!). Pre-blogging, I don’t remember ever reading a book or series I didn’t like – I’m not sure if this is because it didn’t happen or I shut those memories out… Post-blogging, I’ve been starting so many new series that I haven’t read very many second much less third books in a series.

    I actually love series because I like the longer story line and the development of the characters – you get to know them better! Reading this post has definitely opened my eyes to some of the negatives to series that I honestly hadn’t really considered before. I would hate to force myself through a second book and be truly undecided if I should read a third – ouch!

    I have seriously considered having a “only completed series” rule though because I HATE WAITING. I would much rather binge a series.

  21. I couldn’t agree more!! I suffer from the second book syndrome and to be honest I’m very hesitant recently to start new series. It’s such a big time commitment (years and years) that, sadly, doesn’t always pay off .

    Some series get so much hype that they are hard to avoid. For instance, I haven’t read the Lunar series and I’ve been hearing about it everywhere for years now. I feel like an outsider sometimes..

  22. I’m definitely a wait-till-they’re-all-released series reader. It can be tough, and I don’t always succeed, but it’s so much more satisfying when I can read the series all at once. And when I do read them as they’re released, I always have to re-read previous books, so it’s really a time-saver to just wait.

  23. I decided this year I’m going to read the first book in a series when it comes out if it looks interesting. Then, I’m going to wait until the whole series is done, reread the first one and read the rest of the series. I can’t wait for the whole series to come out before I read the first one because I need to decide what to buy for my library, but I’m totally fine waiting to read it all when it’s complete. Mostly, I just want to be prepared if I need to start the next book immediately.

    On a similar note, have you ever used FictFact? I use it to check up on when series are finished and when new copies come out (so I can buy them for the library). It’s pretty cool. You can sign u and follow book series so they’ll let you know when new books in the series come out and when the series is complete.

    • That’s not a bad idea! I guess my main thing lately is that I rarely feel in the mood to reread, so the thought of having to reread when binge reading the series later doesn’t really work for me. (But, on the flip side, I also feel like I forget books pretty easily so waiting until all the books to be published before continuing the series without rereading would also be hard for me.) Being a reader is so HARD.

      But I’ll have to check out FictFact. I don’t think I’ve heard of it. Thanks!

  24. Ahh you’re so right, with series there’s always more and more of a chance for disappointment. I’m also starting to dread series, but to be honest I also never read a stand alone book… Perhaps duology’s will become more in fashion? That would be perfect, first book is a amazing and the final book wraps everything off and blows your socks off.

    However I can appreciate your points, they are quite valid and I find myself agreeing to them when I’m reading a series. I was so disappointed by the Ashes Trilogy; I loved the first book, the second got weird and bad, and I can’t even really begin to read the third…


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