I do enjoy, come Monday in Blogland a nice muse, so let's check out this weeks question from Just One More Page,
Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book series…
Do you prefer to read stand-alone books, or books in series? Do you stick with a series the whole way through or stop after the first installment? Are there any particular series you enjoy?(question courtesy of Elena)
That is an interesting question, especially since just today I was reading an article about that very question by the writer Laura Lippman. Now, she has written a quite successful mystery series with the character Tess Monaghan, set in Baltimore. But she has also written a number of very successful stand alone books. One point that I found interesting from the article is that it is one of the stand alone books that has been her most successful, both commercially and critically. It seems she is often asked when she is going to kill poor Tess off, as if these series books are not as good, as serious, as the stand alones. It seems that often series do not get the same respect that a stand alone gets, undeservedly I think.
I have read many books in series, usually in the mystery/thriller genre. I prefer to start at the beginning and usually do. But sometimes I have also jumped in the middle and, in my opinion, if it is a well written series, that should not be a major problem. It just offends my inner OCD-ness to read books out of order.
Do I read the whole series? Well, that depends on the quality of the writing. I am loyal, but not silly. I could be wrong, but from a readers point of view, it sometimes seems that some writers see writing a series as being easier than writing a stand alone book. They get repetitive, they get lazy, they fail to keep developing the main character. Those obviously would be the ones I stop reading. The series just runs out of steam and should be put aside by the author. Why don't they? Well, something Ms. Lippman says may explain a few reasons. Speaking about her character Tess she says,
"She has literally kept a roof over my head and even thrown in the kitchen of my dreams. I spend more time with her than almost anyone in my life, with the possible exception of my spouse. She is the childish thing that too many adults are duped into putting away: a very satisfactory imaginary friend."If you are kind, you might say that the author becomes fond of the character. They enjoy writing about them, putting them in new situations, new challenges. If you are not so kind, you think is it more that issue of keeping a roof over their head.
People seems to like the comfort of the familiar, and, even when the books go south, so to speak, many keep buying them. One that comes to mind immediately is the Scarpetta series of Patricia Cornwell. To early fans of the series, this is no surprise. The early books were quite good I thought, but the series should have ended several books ago. About the time that Dr. Scarpetta's boyfriend...I forget his name...came back from the dead. A bad sign when a writer resorts to cheap tricks like that. Coming back from the dead is bad, unless you are writing sci-fi or vampires books maybe. A few of the later books in that series are well...how to say this in a nice way....they are awful. Not only the plot, but the writing. And still they have been NY Times best sellers, for reasons beyond me to understand. Oh well, it's their money to spend on what they want, even less than great books.
Favorite series...hmmmm...well, just picking a couple (with the help of my beloved Library Thing. I say that just because I know my LT love annoys a few of you, my dear readers...lol) there is Tess Gerritsen's Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles series, Lisa Gardner's Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner series, P.D.James's Adam Dalgliesh books, Laurie R.King's Kate Martinelli mysteries, Chelsea Cain's rather gruesome Gretchen Lowell serial killer books...I love a serial book about a serial killer..
and then just to break from my love of mysteries and killers, Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series. Oh wait, they are full of killers and mystery too, with an added dash of the supernatural.
I could go on and on, listing series I have enjoyed, but I imagine you have other things to do. So ok, run along now.....