It’s been a whole month since I last posted something. There goes my plan to be very active and reliable on this blog. Oh well.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of quitting a book series. I’ve done it before and some of the times were harder than others.
It’s amazing how difficult it is to drop a book series that you’ve been reading for a long time. Even six books in there’s an investment and it’s so hard to let go. Especially if you’ve become part of a fandom and you’ve made friends over speculations and discussion.
I’ve left a few series that I’d put time into so I know what I’m talking about.
I read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evonavich up through the fourteenth installment. But I hadn’t liked it for multiple books before that. Seems like it should have been easy. I actually wasn’t involved in the fandom — no message boards or Goodreads groups or even discussion on Amazon — but it was actually very difficult to stop myself from buying the fifteenth book.
Why did I quit that one? Because it had become incredibly repetitive and it wasn’t going anywhere. The characters had reached the pinnacle of their development and the storylines were just warmed over from the first eight or so books. The whole love triangle thing (which I’m given to understand has still not been resolved) had become tawdry and had diminished all three characters involved. The humor was stale and there was basically little to no joy in reading them.
And still I had a hard time letting go. Habit? Pretty expensive. As I’ve noticed in the time since, the books have gotten thinner but more costly. And as I understand it, there’s some bed hopping which doesn’t do any of them any favors. I think I got off that train just in the nick of time. Eek.
Then there was the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Again, I wasn’t involved in a fandom except for some discussion on the Amazon boards, but I did read the first six books before I finally said, “enough is enough”. Truth be told I skimmed the fifth and sixth books quite a bit. The writing had become self-indulgent and poorly paced. The plot lines had gotten more insane and it was purely absurd that absolutely everything happened to Jamie and Claire. They had all these other characters around them and whatever thing was going to happen would always happen to those two. It got a little creepy and ridiculous.
I haven’t watched the television show, but I’m interested in seeing it. I’ve heard it’s a very well done adaptation. I did really like those first books — the second one was always my favorite — but I don’t watch much TV so it’s hard to fit that into my schedule.
Leaving that series was much easier. For one thing, Gabaldon takes years to write new installments, so I had time to get used to being a former reader. However, when the next book came out, I nearly plunked down the dollars, but then I decided to read the spoilers instead. Turns out that was enough for me. I’ve actually got the seventh book because there was a bundle sold for a ridiculously great price and I bought it. I had read the books in hard copy so it seemed like a good idea to get them for my Kindle. I don’t see myself reading it, though it catches me by surprise when I come across book 7 in my library. Then I feel some guilt.
Why guilt? Because being a fan of a series is a commitment. However mild it might be, it’s still something into which you’ve put some effort. I feel like I’m letting myself down if I don’t find out what happens next. But if I wasn’t enjoying what happened last … *sigh*
Another series I bailed on was the Psy-Changling series by Nalini Singh. Now, I’ll be honest — I may have given a couple of those books five stars, but I was never as thrilled with that series as many of my friends are. I really disliked the whole Psy world building. It necessitated repetitive story lines for those characters. I much preferred the shifters. Their stories were more varied and their emotions could run the gamut.
But I would have stuck with it if the publisher hadn’t been part of Agency 6 pricing; where the publisher sets the prices for their books instead of the seller. The problem with this is the price hike they hit us with as soon as they pushed it through. Money grubbing. Very off-putting.
So when the A-6 pricing scheme took over, I decided to cull my “auto-buys” and Psy-Changling was on the chopping block. I did read one more that I got from the library, but it didn’t engage me enough to make me deal with the whole borrowing thing on an ongoing basis for that series. See? A-6 pricing lost them money. Because I’d much rather buy the book than bother with the library, especially if I want to read a new release, I would have bought their books. And now I don’t buy them at all.
Lara Adrien’s “Midnight Breeds” series was always hit and miss for me. A couple of the books were so good that I gave them five stars. But others were really bad. Lazily plotted and lacking continuity and logic.
I gave up on that series after the 8th installment. The seventh had been a five star for me, and the 8th — Taken by Midnight — was set up in that one so I was anxious for it. What an incredible disappointment! The main couple hardly had any time together and the plot spun completely out of control. It was just plain lame. I couldn’t bring myself to buy any more of them. Again, agency pricing might have gotten in the way, but I don’t even remember now. Every once in a while I think I should pick it up again, and then I just don’t bother. I have not missed it.
So I have a lot of experience in walking away from a series that’s not working for me. The problem really comes in when you’re a part of the fandom of a series/author. When you’ve met people and made friends through your mutual enthusiasm for a world and the characters that inhabit it the idea of leaving is a lot more disturbing.
I’m in this dilemma now. A lot of time put in, many friends made, and good books in the past. It’s difficult, I tell ya! At one point I was sure I was going to leave. Done! Wash my hands! Then I talked to a friend and I couldn’t imagine leaving that community behind. So I’m staying. For now. The books may only offer me reasons to rant at this point, but I do so like my friends and the Goodreads fan group is a great place to meet up with them.
Is it too crazy to hope the author will have an epiphany and do better? Yes. I’m sure it is. But I will hold out hope for a while anyway. Until then, I will hang with my friends and hope the author doesn’t do any more stupid things before the next book. Unlikely.
We can always hope though, right?