Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What book series have dragged on too long?

When an author creates a series you love, time seems to stand still.

Like most readers, I fall into that trap: “I’ll never be able to get enough of this series.”

That problem is, that statement is almost always wrong.

There is such a thing as a series going on too long.

I’ve hit the wall a couple of times over the past year -- and each time it's actually hurt me because I legitimately like these characters.

Quite frankly, I was just reading Charlaine Harris’ ‘Southern Vampire’ series out of habit the last three years or so (probably more). Luckily for me, Harris decided to end her own series – even amid rampant fan complaints and the fact that it made her a millionaire.
You see, I have a lot of respect for an author that chooses to end their series on their own. Most authors have to be pushed out – and by the time that happens, the series is ultimately ruined.

That’s what’s happening with MaryJanice Davidson’s ‘Undead’ series. When I first fell in love with the series – which was admittedly low on plot from the first book – I thought it was something fresh and new.

Last night, I finished the most recent book and realized that this series has really crashed and burned. Even though there was very little plot in the first five books or so -- it was 10 times more plot than the last five books have been able to boast.

Given the reviews of the past few books, I’m not alone in my unhappiness.

When does it just become a money grab?

I know I’m to blame for part of this. I keep buying the books in the hopes that the series will turn around – even thought I know that’s virtually impossible. At a certain point, there’s just nothing left to write that won’t sound contrived.

Sometimes you just have to let a series go.

Which series am I talking about?

Victoria Laurie’s Psychic Eye Series: The reason I started reading these books in the first place was because they were set in Royal Oak. As a fan of paranormal chick books, this was right up my alley. Over the years, though, the two main characters have moved from Royal Oak (huge bummer) and landed in Texas. Instead of invigorating the series, though, pretty much every single person that they knew back in Royal Oak has moved to Texas with them. I’m not exaggerating. Why even change the setting? I can only think of one Royal Oak character that hasn’t permanently moved to Texas. It’s ridiculous. When you couple that with the fact that this summer’s entry had the bride strapped to a bomb – like an episode of ‘Alias’ – you realize believability has completely flown out the window.

MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead Series: Betsy was never a good person. She was never a good role model. She was shallow. She was self-absorbed. She was obtuse to real world problems. The one good thing you could say about her was that she was loyal. In recent books, the contrived nature of this storyline has flown out of control. Not only has just about every character that has ever died been brought back to life – thus eliminating any decent emotional conflict the author ever came up with – but it’s like a frat house full of fools now. I am sick of the battle between Betsy and Laura – including the manipulation at the end of the most recent book. Sinclair has turned into a total wuss – and Betsy gets dumber and dumber with each installment. Let this series go.

Terri Reid’s Mary O’Reilly Series: I devoured the first six books in this series in about three days. They had a simple premise. They were cleanly written. The characters were a little too good to be true – but there was still a likability factor about the books that couldn’t be denied. Then something happened that shifted the books from marvelous to mundane. For me, I think it was when the main character was inhabited by a ghost and was then traumatized by the rape the ghost suffered. The way the main character acted was completely unbelievable. Then there was a book based on a court case – and it was pretty much offensive to cops everywhere. In recent books, the white-washed nature of the story has become more and more evident. Perfect people aren’t that much fun to be around (or read about) – and Mary O’Reilly is pretty much there. She never does anything wrong. She's virtually a saint. If Reid were smart, she would move on to the two youngsters in the series – Maggie and Clarissa – and focus the stories on them for a young adult crowd. I think she could do something marvelous with it.

Gerry Bartlett’s Real Vampires Series: I discovered this series about the same time I discovered MaryJanice Davidson. Maybe it should come as no surprise that I’m getting tired of both of them at the same time. To be fair, I’m nowhere near as annoyed with Bartlett’s books as I am with Davidson’s books. Still, though, there’s only so much I can take. Much like Betsy, Bartlett’s Glory was kind of a funny and scatter-brained character when she was first introduced. As book after book has gone by, though, Glory is becoming more and more unlikable. I am invested in Glory’s love story with Jerry – but she is kind of a slut anymore and I’m sick of her making excuses for her actions. Instead of dragging out the happily ever after – maybe it’s time to embrace it and let Glory and Jerry go off into the sunset together (just not literally). As it stands, Glory can’t take much more tarnishing – because she’s going to lose the few remaining fans she has left if that happens.

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series: Of all the series I’ve mentioned – this is the one that definitely needs to be put out of its misery. We’re talking 20 books here. This is years and years over the course of the storyline. In that time, Stephanie has gone from a struggling bond enforcement agent with a penchant for trouble who was constantly plagued by Catholic guilt to a complete and total user and slut -- sleeping with two men at the same time. The fact that Stephanie has shown no growth in the past eight books – really, the last decent one was 12 – is not even the worst problem with the series. No, the worst problem would be the surreal scenarios that this group of people continuously gets into. The farts of the 15th book could have been the lowest point – but the hobbits that followed actually sank lower. Stephanie needs to make a choice and move on – because she’s not even remotely likable anymore.

Casey Daniels’ Pepper Martin Series: This is another one that seems to come up with contrived scenarios to keep the two main characters apart. The low point for me was when Pepper went to another state, had sex with a guy, and then magically returned to find her previously skeptical love interest apparently all in and totally on board now. I like paranormal books – but they need just a touch of realism in the emotions and deeds of the characters to balance out the supernatural elements. That being said, I’m willing to have one more book so Pepper gets her happily ever after. Anything after that is probably unneeded.

What do you think? What series have gone on too long?


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