There’s been much excitement across the book blogging world this week, thanks to the release of A Court of Mist and Fury, the second in Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Pretty much anything written by Sarah J. Maas seems to signal this level of excitement (me included – I’m already halfway through ACOMAF, and am absolutely loving it!), and I think that excitement is largely due to being able to return to the characters and story you have loved after a long wait (and with some authors that wait is longer than others…ahem, George R.R. Martin!), and getting to read a new book by an author that you really like. I certainly remember the madness and hysteria that accompanied the release of every Harry Potter book: I distinctly remember fighting my way through crowds to get to the table heaped with copies of The Order of the Phoenix in Woolworths.
And that for me is the beauty of ongoing series. Every year, or two years, you get to get super excited about being able to find out what happened next to the characters you loved, or to return to a world that you really liked.
However, the waiting is also one of the annoying things about ongoing series. When I read a book I love I can be kind of a brat and want to read the next book RIGHT NOW! and whilst that’s OK if it’s already a completed series, it can be really frustrating if it is still ongoing and the next book isn’t out. For example, I know as soon as I finish A Court of Mist and Fury I’ll be absolutely dying to read what happens next, but am then going to have to wait another year for the next instalment (although thankfully that long wait will be broken up by the release of the next book in Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series in September!). Ever since I read the first two books in The Stormlight Archive a few months ago I’ve also been practically hopping up and down waiting for the next instalment to be released so I can catch up with Kaladin and co.!
Anyway, rambling aside, the point of this post is the pros and cons of series. Does the yearly/however long excitement outweigh the frustration of having to wait? Check out my pros and cons, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
- The excitement of release day.
There’s nothing better than the excitement of either waiting for your preorder to drop through the letterbox, or hurrying to the bookshop on release day to get your hands on a copy. The wait is annoying, but after all, the author needs that to write an amazing book that does all those characters you love justice, and when the wait is over it’s all the more exciting when you finally open that book and find all those familiar characters waiting. Which brings me to…
- Already being familiar with the world and characters.
I read a lot of fantasy, and so often when I start a new book there’s a little ‘settling in period’ at the start where you have to gather how the world works, the rules of any kind of magic, and even the different humanoid species that you’re going to be reading about (so elves, dwarves, fae, wargs, robots etc.). Similarly with any book there’s that same settling in period in regards to the character, as you try and get a sense of each one and what they’re about.
However, with a series you’ve already done that, and so you can get into the story much quicker, without having to get accustomed to the world or characters before you can become truly engrossed.
- Getting to return to the characters and storyline you love.
Aside from the practicalities of reading about the same characters, world and story that I’ve mentioned above, it’s just a really exciting thing to read more about characters you really liked, and to find out what happened to them next. Generally a huge event happens to the characters at the end of a book, and so finally getting to find out what happened after it, and how it affected the characters is great.
- Having to wait.
No one likes waiting, especially when you feel like you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens next in your favourite series. Whilst it makes the experience all the better when you finally read the book, it is frustrating, and the stakes are also higher than if you had got to read it immediately…
- The book may not live up to your expectations.
For me the stakes are higher for a book I’ve been waiting for, simply because I’ve been waiting for it, and anticipating it. When you’ve waited all that time for something you’ve generally built up an idea in your head of how amazing and awesome it will be, and have your own theories on what should happen next, and so there is a pretty high risk that it won’t live up to your heightened expectations.
I’ve also found that a lot of series tend to fall into two categories: the series that improve as they go along, and those that decline. I have read a few series that just seem to have got better and better with every book (The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson sticks in my mind), and others that I have kind of lost more faith in with every book (both The Hunger Games and Divergent series). Therefore, there’s always a risk that that series you love now won’t be as good in the next book, or the one after that, and you could eventually just find yourself having to give up on a series you have invested yourself in for several years. Or it could be amazing and get even more incredible with each book, so I guess that’s the risk you take!
- You may have forgotten stuff by the time the next book is released.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to forget a lot of the little details, and even major plot points in series, especially once you start getting to the later books when there is then a significant amount of backstory to try and remember.
Plus in an ongoing series, by the time the next book has been released it will probably be a while since you read the last one, and so it can be a struggle to remember everything that happened, even if you enjoyed the story at the time. I’m finding that now with A Court of Mist and Fury: a few things that have been said have had me scratching my head, trying to remember the exact events of the last book. I know some people like to reread the last book before the next one comes out, but not only does that require a lot of effort, but would be a total pain if the book you’re waiting for is number seven in the series!
So how do you feel about ongoing series? Does the waiting frustrate you too much, or do you just enjoy the gradually building excitement as release day looms? Do you worry that you’ll be disappointed when you finally get your hands on that book you’ve been waiting for?