Monday, December 11, 2006

Being Part Of The Problem

I know I've blogged about this before, but since my current read has me checking to see if "Sucker" is tattooed on my forehead I thought now would be a good time to bring it up yet again.

I started life as a mystery fan. I still love me a good mystery. Now the bread and butter in the mystery world is a series. Sue Grafton, James Patterson, Lisa Scottoline, Tess Gerritsen etc., all successful authors with successful series. These books follow one character (or group of characters) over the course of several books, and these series tend to be "never ending." It's a rare thing indeed when a mystery author brings "closure" to a series and even then, sometimes it's picked up by one of their children or a ghostwriter. I'm invested in a hand full of series, some to the point where I just can't make a break even though I feel dirty for admitting I still read them (case in point: The Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun).

I'm fine with this. So how come I hate it so much in romance novels? Because while mysteries are "allowed" to follow the same set of characters indefinitely, romances cannot do this. Romance novels must have a happily-ever-after. There has to be that closure, otherwise it ain't a romance. So for a series to work, the romance author has to introduce secondary characters who will be the subject of books 2, 3, 4 etc. And that's where it tends to get preposterous.

There are certain authors I don't read because the idea of their neverending series is just too daunting. Stephanie Laurens, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Suzanne Brockmann, you get the idea. Because sooner or later my skepticism kicks in. Oh, so there are 16 children in the family and they're all getting their own books? The plot involves a private school, so all the students are going to grow up and get their own story? You've written about all the relatives, so now it's a story about the hero's best friend's brother's former roommate's governess? Seriously, it's like a drunken Merry-Go-Round after a while.

I want an end. I want an end to the romance series so badly that whenever I walk into a bookstore these days I'm purposely looking for a "stand alone" book. No more series. I'm done. I'm full. Frankly, I'm getting indigestion.

So where does that leave me? With Watchers In The Night by Jenna Black - book one in a new paranormal series. Now, I don't know the details, but I'm going to assume (for my sanity) that Ms. Black does have an "end an sight." I sure hope so, because I'm already wondering who the hero of book 2 will be. Which means I'm enjoying WITN. Which means I've just gotten roped into another series. Which means I've fallen for it - again. Sucker.

7 comments:

Jane said...

Ha. There's a sucker born every minute and I was born either the minute before or the minute after because I love nalini singh (who is a series author), meljean brook (ditto). I just finished Sharing Knife by Bujold which is a duology and am impatiently waiting for the next release.

Nonny said...

I haven't read much in the way of mysteries for years now, but the same is true with series in science fiction and fantasy. It used to be more the multi-book story arc, but nowadays, many books are moderately stand-alone, like Laurell K. Hamilton or Jim Butcher.

The romance "series" has annoyed me, too. Especially with paranormals, where it often feels that the story is not over at the end of the book. The hero and heroine are together and have completed a triumphant feat... but then it feels like there's more. The story isn't over.

There's a lot more than happens in a relationship after the couple gets together... especially when they're working together on a secret government project, trying to bring together two clans of warring paranormals, whatever. It just does not ring "true" to me for the story to end there.

It rings even less true when the author picks it up again with people who WERE NOT key players in the first book. *grrrrr*

Jenna Black said...

Sorry to have contributed to your addiction. :)

Jules and Hannah are the H/H of the second book, Secrets in the Shadows (coming out in May). I've got four books in the series under contract as of now. I'm trying to make each book as self-contained as possible while not closing it off so much that the next book seems to come out of the blue. Only time will tell how well I'm succeeding.

I hope in the end, you'll decide getting hooked on this particular series is a good thing!

Alie said...

Yeah, sometimes I'm not a huge series girl. I like Nora's J.D. Robb series with Eve Duncan, but then I get pulled away from it with another stand alone book. Same thing with Kathy Reichs.

Kristie (J) said...

I've been pondering this all day and have so many thoughts it would take up too much space on yours so I have a post almost ready too.

Nicole said...

I like mystery series, but the romance ones are getting old. And it really is hard to find a romance that is standalone. I HATE reading a series out of order, so there are many books I just haven't gotten to because they're later in a series and I don't feel like investing the time.

I did recently discover Karin Slaughter's mysteries and have been devouring them.

Wendy said...

Jane:
Yeah, I keep telling myself no more series, then WHAMO! I find another one.

Nonny:
What I enjoyed about WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT (blog post to follow) is that it does have an ending. The immediate conflict in the story (the serial killer vampire) is wrapped up, although one imagines the turmoil caused by this mystery will be seen in future books.

Jenna:
I enjoyed this book very much (more information to follow). I had a feeling the wind was blowing towards Hannah, but wasn't sure if you were going to stick her with Drake or Jules. Both had intriguing possibilities in my mind!

Alie:
I know some might disagree, but I have a hard time making J.D. Robb fit into the romance series mold. I tend to see her books as more mystery, with a hint of romance. So in that case, the "never ending" series doesn't bug me so much, although I never got sucked into that particular one.

Nicole:
It's funny, because I hate reading a mystery series out of order (although I've done it!) but don't mind it so much with romance. What tends to annoy me across the board is when the book doesn't stand alone very well and I spend the entire time lost in the wilderness.