As a long time reader, particularly of romance, (one of the more prolific genres for serial books) I actually have a slight preferences for books written in series. There are many reasons…
For one thing, the plots and the characters tend to be more complex and multi-layered because the writers has a larger canvas on which to build the world that she’s writing in, develop the characters and the plots over a longer stretch of time. There’s the also tantalizing opportunity for cliffhangers. You revisit popular characters so the reader sometimes gets to see how they turned out… or if a couple lived happily ever after. Done properly…books written in series can be richer and more satisfying.
On the other side of the fence, have you ever read a series…that started off really good (great even) but then after the eleventh, fifteenth, twentieth book, it descended into repetition and mediocrity? Its not necessarily that the writing quality has declined…its just, there’s only so long that you can read about the same characters (or the same book formula). Here are some of the worse offenders… in my opinion. (Disclaimer: These are truly some of my favorite series, which I love, but I feel they have outlived themselves. All good stories deserve an end. Nothing wrong with that)
Stephanie Laurens’ Cynsters Series, Lovely when it was just a big group of siblings, and she was telling their romantic adventures. But after all the sibs were married off and happy…why did then does the series start telling the romantic tales of their random relatives and friends? Who are these people and why would the readers care about their love-lives? Sure, some of them may have been vaguely mentioned during the course of the original series, but not enough to inspire any real interest in them. After a while…there was something called “The Next Generation of Cynsters”…I gathered these were the kids of the original Cynster siblings…OMG?! Really? Let it go! Not sure where it stands now…But I was happy to see The Bastion Club come along…Fresh characters to read about.
Jayne Castle Harmony/Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick Arcane Series. The multiple-personalitied Ms. Quick (she writes under lots of names) is playing with fire with this series-slash-science experiment. I don’t even know if I can describe what was done to this series in a coherent enough narrative for anyone to understand. I’m reading the bloody series and I’m confused! The Harmony Series started first I think, its the one I was reading first anyway. (I LOVE this series) It takes place in the future, in an off-planet futuristic setting. Harmony was written under Jayne Castle. Then came a historical series, which had to do with the secret Arcane society, some artifacts, a curse or something and the hint of paranormal. The Arcane Series was started under the name Amanda Quick. Then inexplicably switched to Jayne Ann Krentz when after a few books the setting moved to a present day setting. I immediately got a *headache*. She wrote a few more books and then decided to bring this series into the Harmony world (WTH?) Never in my life have I seen this before…Series melding. It was confusion personified for me …and honestly, in my opinion she prematurely aged a still fresh series by making it into a Frankenstein monster written in 2-3 different time periods under 3 different pen names. Now, its like a lame horse….shoot it, please. (I’m not sure it can be fixed after all this…But I am kinda still reading them…it or eh, I’m honestly not sure what to call the series anymore.)
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter/Dream Hunter/WereHunter Spin-off Series. Ironically, The Dark Hunter Series did almost the exact opposite of what The Harmony Series did. It worked for awhile, but it has since gotten old. Harmony/Arcane started off as 3 separate series and then got mixed together to get one big bloated monster, whereas the Dark Hunters started off as one series and spun it off into 3 or 4 separate series…Dark Hunters…was first..then after a few books, there were WereHunters and DreamHunters… then the Chronicles of Nick (Nick started off as a supporting character in the Dark Hunter series)…Things got way too complicated and hard to keep up with. Then the author started writing other, unrelated series (Lords of Avalon, which I kinda like actually). Oy! In the end, I was so confused until I don’t even know which series the last book I read was in!
Christine Feehan’s “Dark” Series…I never thought I would see the day when I wrote something negative about this series. But alas, it has lost something. Currently its on Book 29 in the series. One saving grace in this series, is that unlike JD. Robb’s “in Death” series, at least there are new characters created in each new book. So, its a little fresher than Robb’s “Death”. Seriously, the last one I read before I struck it off my automatic buy list was centered around a frail redhead with a heart condition…and at one point I was actually lost all interest in what happened to the heroine. Its such a shame because this was a dynomite series…that just kinda outlived itself. There’s so many new, creative paranormals out there…YA paranormals & Dystopian tales that really kick it. And they are shrewdly written in triologies or quads that are complex, well written, but short lived because when characters and storylines stay around too long…they just age and grow old no matter HOW cool, popular and unique they started out. The same concept, story, idea, world, or characters can only exist so long before they lose the reader’s interest. That’s just how it is.
Janet Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” Series I’m really conflicted about putting “Plum” on this list..because even though its way past its prime…I must shamefully admit that I’m STILL reading the books! Its become so predictable and repetitive until *I* could probably write one (no, not really). And yet, they are still enjoyable and hilarious (in a totally ridiculous way that would get any normal person committed to a psych ward here in the real world) but hilarious none the less. Dude, they are named by number so that we can keep them all straight in our heads…I think there in the 20s. Love that other series tho…Barnaby & Hooker…Write some more of those!
J.D. Robb’s “in Death” Series….I left off in the mid-teens. The last one I read was “Purity in Death”. What started off as an interesting Romantic Suspense serial (in 1995) is still limping around with grey hair and brittle bones in 2015…Seriously, 20 years…and 53 Books?! All written revolving around the same couple and a few of their friends/co-workers? No character is THAT multi-layered. Time to let it go! I love Eve and Roake too, but please put them to bed. Perhaps they will find a new audience with younger readers.
D. Alyce Domain
*ripping some of my old favs*
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