Dec 13, 2012

The Ever Popular "Series"

A lot of the books I read are a small piece of the bigger picture. Most of them are series, trilogies, sagas ~ you get the point. I do have a few stand-alone novels, but it's pretty rare.

One of my favorite independent novels, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, recently had some big news. It is going to be.... drum roll please.... a trilogy :).

I can't really even describe how excited I am that this wonderful story will continue on a bit longer. The way Gaughen ended Scarlet, it felt like there should be a sequel ~ there was so much left to be seen, such a fantastic amount of curiosity left over.

BUT it totally could have ended where it did.

So while I'm excited, I'm also a little nervous. Not to doubt Gaughen's mad writing and storytelling skills, but...

I totally went on a thinking rampage, and not even about Scarlet in particular ~ my mind went on and on in general about wonderful first novels that carry a string of sequels... The sequels could embellish the story ~ make it even more beautiful and obsessive-worthy... Or they could be a burden, weighing down that first novel you fell in love with.

Let me put it this way... When you read a novel ~ a novel you really have no clue about except for the GoodReads blurb and maybe a few other readers' reviews ~ you have really no expectations. Let me rephrase that ~ you expect the novel to be as good as it sounds and as other people made it seem (there's a reason you picked it up in the first place), but there's nothing more specific than that..

When we plow through that first novel, we connect with the characters ~ I mean to the point that we laugh, cry, and feel every emotion they are feeling. We become part of the story, enveloping ourselves in that world every time we crack open the pages, and it feels like it becomes a memory of our lives. When readers fall in love with a book, it becomes very personal, as if the story was written for them and them alone.

Readers tend feel... possessive... Otherwise, why would there be angry reviews when a story didn't go exactly the way they'd hoped or ecstatic squeals and virtual "jumping-for-joys" when the books take an unexpected and fabulous twist...

So when we turn the first page of the second novel in a series, our expectations are much higher and much more specific than when we took a chance on that first one. We have hopes for the characters... for their relationships, their triumphs, their failures... We want to get to know them better, and we want it to feel as real as it did before... We want the characters to grow and evolve, but we want them to maintain that recognizable voice that we fell in love with... Not to mention, we need the plot to thicken and get gasp-worthy intense...

There's a lot of pressure on authors that choose to expand their stories into two or more books with three hundred plus pages to fill (give or take). Maybe we aren't doing our jobs as readers ~ reading the book the author wrote rather than filling it in with all the things we would have done with the story... But it's difficult to be objective when it's become so personal to you..

It's one of those things... I want the story to continue ~ I mean, who ever wants a good book to end? ~ but sometimes I feel that authors turn a story into a series just to take it to the bank a couple more times. That, or they seem to get tired of their own characters or lose their passion for the story and rush through the last novel just to get it finished (had that reading experience recently *not-fun*)... It's heartbreaking as a reader...

It's at this point that reading becomes a gamble... "to read or not to read?".... Guess that's a chance I (or we) have to take ~ because there's no way in hell I'm not reading the sequel to a book I fell madly in love with... :)

And it's at this point that I realized my spinning wheels did all that work for nothing...

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

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