Thursday, January 21, 2016

Are You Willing to Wait for Series to Get Better?

I've been mulling the idea for this discussion post over in my head for a while, mostly because I've found myself saying "But it really gets good in the second book! Promise!" a lot lately. When I saw Bekka post a similar post, explaining why honestly she just doesn't care if a series gets better, I decided to finally cobble my thoughts together and post a friendly answer as to why I'm one of those people who is willing to hurry through a not-so-great series starter (or a mediocre first season of a TV show, hello Parks and Rec/The Mindy Project/the first two episodes of The 100) to get to the goods.

Angie has been reading one of my forever fave fantasy series, the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, and she was struggling a bit during the first book. "Don't worry!" I said over and over, chewing my nails and stressing out but trying not to let it show. "The first book is the intro book. I also found it a bit slow and not as gripping. It's in The Exiled Queen where shit gets CRAY. I PROMISE. HANG IN THERE."

(She hung in there, and shit got cray, and now she probably hates me for making her care about this series because it's life ruining.)

I've read a lot of series where I found the first one good or merely okay (or even very good, but not AS good) but wholeheartedly believe the following books leveled up considerably. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Throne of Glass, Vampire Academy, the Lumatere Chronicles, the Remnant Chronicles, Percy Jackson. Even my ABSOLUTE BAE series, The Song of the Lioness, my favorite childhood books, I recommend with the "JUST HANG IN THERE UNTIL THE SECOND BOOK PLEEEEEASE" disclaimer. Apparently, I say this a lot.

Sometimes some series need a bit to get going, for whatever reason. Some series take time for the world to grab you, or for the authors to really settle into their groove. Some characters are an acquired taste, and you need to stick with them for a bit until you really get them. And you know what? It is TOTALLY fair to bail on a series if it takes too long to get to the goods. It really is. I mean, books are long and life is short and all that jazz. I don't think it's at all wrong if you're a "Don't care if it gets better, I want better NOW" reader. There's no wrong way to read. (Unless you read books backwards. That's just wrong.)

I've realized lately that I'm apparently a pretty patient series reader when I believe the goods will come.

(*cue my mother laughing in the distance at the fact that I just called myself patient*)

I guess I'm willing to invest in the time and the effort if I know the payoff is going to be great. If i have the feeling that once I chew through this cumbersome world building, or indulge this weak intro plot, i'll strike gold. Of course, this doesn't always pan out--it just can't--but I'm pretty good at being able to tell that there's gold in them thar sequels. And even if there isn't...well, okay, I just wasted 400 or so pages, but that's fine. No page is a waste. ONTO THE NEXT BOOK. I am a book conquerer, onward bookish soldiers, I don't know what I'm talking about anymore so let's switch paragraphs.

I mean, usually I go off the recs of my best bookish friends. If they say the second book is where it levels up, I trust them. I'll hang in there. I can roll with a slow series opener if, say, a MONDO SHIP looms on the horizon. (You can always get me with a ship. I'm just that cheap.) It's funny; I'm quick to DNF standalones or books where the rest of the series isn't out yet if I know they're just no bueno or pas pour moi, but if a whole series or at least a sequel or two is published, I feel more incentive to give it a shot. Because maybe--MAYBE--I'll find the same magic there that I found in The Exiled Queen, Crown of Midnight, and Frostbite, taking a series from *shrug* to *SCREAMSOBBING FOREVER*

What about you? Are you like Bekka, or like me? Do you want the goods NOW, DAMN IT, NOW, or are you willing to put in the time? If you are willing, what makes you stick around?


  1. I used to finish series just because I started reading them. Now, though, EVERYTHING is a series and I don't have time for them all. If I don't love the first book, I leave.

  2. I'm in between you and Bekka. I need something in that first book to grab me. It can be a character, ship, something, and I can make my way through a slow start to the BANG book. Like the fantasy series I'm reading right now, The Chronicles of Elantra, I felt the world building in the first too books was lacking in some areas but she had good plot and I really liked the two main characters. So I grabbed the third book. And I'm a third of the way into it and so far the world building seems way, way better in this one than the previous ones. She's gone more in depth with new parts than she previously had and I'm glad I picked this book up. However, I have NO problem dropping or DNFing a book/series if it can't hold my attention.

    Denise | Dandelionn Wine Book Blog | @Dandelionns

  3. I'll DNF books part of a series, IF they're the first book, but it's harder for me to read sequels or other books of a series, because yeah there's that expectation that it might get better! I rely on what other trusted bloggers say - and hope for the best!
    Geraldine @ Corralling Books

  4. This is a great discussion. I ... am willing to give the second book a try if people ALSO didn't like the first book of the series as much but were convinced by the second, for example. If they raved about book 1 and I just disliked it, I probably won't bother.
    I also have to like book 1 at least a bit - maybe I'm invested in the characters, maybe I like the setting - whatever, just so I'm not completely indifferent.

  5. I'm like you -- I'll DNF a first book SO fast if the rest aren't out and I'm not liking it. But if they are and if I've been told the series gets better, I'm much more likely to keep reading. Granted, if my lack of interest is SUPER strong, I might not have the willpower to finish book one even then. But if it's just okay, I'll usually try to push through.

  6. I feel this so hard, a book has to be stratospheric amounts of shit for me to actually DNF but also I know most people aren't like that. I've been dying to get my sister into ToG for forever bc I know she will utterly lose her shit but I also know she won't make it through ToG and then never trust me again and if she won't read what I rec her, how will I ruin her life?

  7. ALWAYS WILLING TO PUT THE TIME IN IF IT WILL END IN AWESOMENESS AND SHIP. The ship part is crucial. Sometimes I put the time in and it never gels, but usually people are right and it was worthwhile.

    Obvs I listen to you. I mean hello you watch a thing and I'm like SOMEDAY and then I'm like JK STARTED IT.

  8. I'm definitely willing to put more time into a book series if it's supposed to get really good! I like giving books a chance and I think that's why I struggle so much with DNFing because it could get really good and then I've missed out so yep, I definitely wait in case it gets better! :)

  9. I'm going to be laughing over that Hang in there Joan gif ALL NIGHT.


    However I agree with you on all of those series getting infinitely better except The Remnant Chronicles because I haven't read them yet (NOPE NOT DOING IT NO TIME JUST SHUSH) but also I pretty much hated The Girl of Fire and Thorns and only read book two because there was nothing else available and it was EVERYTHING to me so that is one of the few series I will yell at people to push through.

    I think I'm more like you but I'm trying to be more like Bekka haha. TOO MANY BOOKS TOO LITTLE TIME GILLY.

  10. For me it totally depends. Even if I'm not 100% behind the first book in a series, I'm usually willing pick up the second because YOU NEVER KNOW. Like, I'm glad I stuck with the Remnant Chronicles because holy cow, Heart of Betrayal was EXCELLENT. Same with the Firebird series - I wasn't a huge fan of A Thousand Pieces of You, but I enjoyed the sequel immensely. But there have also been times I haven't continued with a series after the first book, or continued with a series and regretted it because it got worse. I think a lot of the time it depends on my mood and also what's available/not available at the library, since that's where I get a lot of the books I'm iffy about.

  11. I am willing to wait it out, depending on why I felt the book was MEH. I've found that if book one was just MEH, I end up loving the rest of series. Not saying that if it's amazing, I don't love the series. It's a toss up, and I guess I would say I am in IN BETWEEN!

  12. Probably more like you, but that's mainly because I'm so incredibly neurotic that if I've read the first book I JUST NEED TO FINISH THE SERIES.

  13. I am willing to hang in there. I'm much more likely to enjoy the second book in a series than the first. I agree, sometimes they need time to get going especially with fantasy. The first half of the first book is always exposition and world building. Once that's established then the plot can kick in, which usually makes the second book more interesting to me.

    That being said, there has been some series that I have stopped after one book. It's usually those books where there was something big in the plot that I didn't like. Maybe it just didn't feel creative or engaging enough or maybe I didn't connect with the characters. Usually I'll give myself a little time to sit with my feelings of the first book and if I'm not really excited about it after a few months then I won't continue with the series. That's been happening a lot more lately though so maybe I've started to lose my patience.
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

  14. You know, I'm always willing to give second books in series a shot because I'm willing to see if it gets better! (And in a lot of cases it does. Case in point: The Winner's Curse. The Kiss of Deception. Ahem.) I usually wait until the second book before I decide whether to continue or let go of a series ;)

  15. Pretty much your whole last paragraph. If the series already has two or three books published, and I'm told it gets better by the second book (like Fire and Thorns) then I will absolutely push thru the first book. And yeah, having an amazing ship is all the incentive I need.
    But if I'm reading a newly released first book and I want to DNF? I wonder if I'd go back and re-read it if I was told the second book was really good. Hasn't happened yet!

  16. I'm not a fan of series in general (that's a whole different post topic lol), and because of this I have very little patience with a series not keeping my interest. Most times I don't finish series, or even get past the first two-three books. There are a few exceptions to this, like Terry Pratchett's massive 40+ book Discworld series (which I've read through several times), the Kate Daniels series etc. But, these series don't have any bad books in it, in my opinion. However, the series that have an installment that just loses me, I let go most times. There's just too many awesome books out there for me to waste my precious reading time on blah books!

  17. It's really a case by case basis but for the most part I'm a lot like you. A good ship or two can be all the incentive I need sometimes! Sometimes I can't be swayed- Vampire Academy didn't do much for me but I was gifted books 2 and 3 so who knows, and City of Bones was so derivative and meh that I've given up on Cassandra Clare all together. BUT a friend's opinion can definitely sway me. Christina said to stick with Girl of Fire and Thorns so I did and I'm really glad! And Alanna was good but I need the encouragement to know how AWESOMESAUCE the rest of the books were to keep at it. I'm the queen of the "don't judge by season 1" thing hahah. It makes me so sad when people give up on Parks & Rec after a few eps. Don't doooo that. I don't think the books being out vs them not really affects me? I read Throne of Glass a couple months after it was published and liked it a lot, but we all know CoM blows it out of the water and now I tell people ToG is good not great, but read CoM and you'll fall in love. Fantasy is so tricky because the first book often is a lot of set up; I guess it's how much I care about the characters with how much set up I'll put up with. Lately I have less and less patience :/ "Gold in them thar sequels" hahaha I think I'm getting better at telling too! Lastly, I love the Anna gif so much.


Note: comments on posts older than 90 days are automatically moderated, so they won't show up here immediately. Thanks for commenting! :)