I recently moved last summer, and in the long process of unpacking and setting up my new living space I’ve acquired three lovely new bookshelves and a neat loft area to serve as my at-home library. In the process of unpacking, purging, and organizing all of my beloved books (which I generally find to be a soothing activity), I’ve noticed a rather growing (literally) trend on my bookshelves: series that turn into twelve book monstrosities that I lose interest in halfway through. This is really quite a shame, because I’ve invested money in and no doubt enjoyed the premise of these series, but after a time they trail off into oblivion.
The problem with series that start to trail past the four, five, and six book marks (in my opinion) is that they slowly disengage with the reader. For instance, if a series only has one book coming out every year or two every eighteen months, I’m probably going to have to go back and reread the entire series over again every time the next book is released in order to refresh my memory enough to enjoy the story, which is a chore. Often times I tend to outgrow a series, such as if it’s a middle-grade series that spans over several years when I’ve moved from middle to high school, or that are even still being published when I’ve enrolled and/or graduated from college (The Clique and the It Girl series come to mind). It’s a sad thing, because I’ve invested several books worth into these characters, and their plots often become so stretched or changed over the course of the books that the initial spark that drew readers in has long since extinguished (this is what happened to me with the House of Night series; I read the first four books my senior year of high school and was totally enthralled, however it’s dragged on so long that I eventually stopped keeping up with the book releases and now have no idea what’s going on, and as the series progressed, the original framework of the story that drew me in had been all used up and pretty much milked for all it was worth, and there were all these new characters and silly things going on….sorry, ending my rant now).
I’m sure authors and publishers have many reasons for prolonging series, from wanting it to stay relevant for a new generation to simply continuing a formula that’s proven to work (hey, I’ll admit, I would certainly not be complaining if JK Rowling announced she wanted to do Harry Potter 8-12). I actually like Cassandra Clare’s approach with her Shadowhunters universe where she compromises by writing multiple series with new (and some old) characters and new plot lines within the same universe (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and the upcoming Dark Artifices). But it becomes a drain on readers, financially and intellectually, to keep up the thread of a single, chronological series that spans so many books, leading to many unread books that collect dust for years after while readers gravitate toward new, shorter trilogies and stand-alones that are more relevant to the current trends and time.
Do you have this problem on your bookshelf? Have you ever found yourself giving up on or “breaking up” with a series that has just run its course for far too long? Do you think it’s just a marketing ploy to bring in more sales? Or do you love 10+ installment series. Let me know in the comments! I love hearing feedback and engaging in discussion!