Sunday 27 May 2012

How Many Years Would You Follow A Series ?

How long does one follow a book series?  Do you keep going through every book until the author dies?  Lately that doesn't even matter, they still keep churning out the books. 

Is it because you still enjoy the author's work?  Do you like the characters in the series?  Years ago I was a big fan of crime books. I was in my 30's. They were escapist, easy to pick up and put down after long days of working full time and a way to have something to do to not think of work or money or family issues.

I remember when the female forensic pathologists books came out. Terrence Brennan and Kaye Scarpetta were favourites. It seemed women detectives and forensic scientists were coming out of the woodwork.  Women weren't just decorations on pulp detective novels any more but they were out there, solving the crimes with their skill and their brains. They had their own apartments, exciting jobs, handsome friends.  It was great fun.

I started following the  favourites of Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Robert Crais and Michael Connelly. Then Patricia started throwing out boring books and I gave up on that series.  The same started to happen with Kathy. And Alex Cross's series by James Patterson. I love his ancient grandmother and need to see if she is still living.

How long can one person wonder if Temp Brennan and Ryan would ever get together and would there be a time when he did not dig her up at the end of the book from the tomb she'd been encased in or find the remote building that was set to burn down with her in it on the last page. I made that one up.

This weekend Robert Crais's most recent book (for me anyway) The First Rule came in from the library and I finished it this afternoon.

I used to love this author. But this book was ridiculous.  First off it is a Joe Pike book. I always prefer the Elvis Cole series with just a bit of Joe Pike on the sidelines. Joe Pike makes the loyalty of a dog appear fickle.  Joe Pike doesn't walk or run, he glides across land probably 6 " above it. No one hears him enter a room. You could pull his fingernails out one at a time and he doesn't grimace or twitch. He meditates and goes to a place where he can't feel it. He speaks many languages enough to ' get by' and know what the enemy is saying. Enemies always speak foreign languages. Russian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Mexican- they were all here in this book today.
The stereotypes are painful, the characters go through the pages shooting everyone yet when they rescue a tiny infant they argue over who will care for it and stay up with him all night.

I was bored. I knew what was going to happen. Seems now I always know what will happen. But these characters in many of these books have been with me since the 1980's.  That's nearly 30 years. Every year I read them and see what they are doing. How are they doing. Temp and Ryan did not get together, not yet.  Why did he need to impregnate the woman he wasn't even that crazy about?  Because it was really his first wife? Elvis has had several lovely girlfriends but they never worked out. Joe Pike? Don't know if he'll ever have a girlfriend. Not one he'd tell anyone about.  

I feel like I am on a ride at Disney World for the hundredth time and know every part of it. Who will jump out, who will double cross whom?  Do I just quit these books cold turkey?  Do you stop characters you loved in your thirties but are bored with in your sixties? Or do you just get the book, spend the few short hours it takes to read them just to keep up? Can I live if I never know what happens to them in the future?  Will I think about them? 

The Millennium Series was different. Once the author wrote his runaway three best selling books about Liz Salander he died. A reader could be thoroughly entertained, if somewhat graphically but from a safe distance and then mourn the loss of the characters because the author was not going to write any more. I know I would have read anything Steig Larssen wrote for years had he not died. 

Just curious if people who do read a continuing series continue it through all the changes of their life or if like Patricia Cornwell did in my life, just fade away never to be looked at again.  How bored can one be before saying, "All right, enough is enough!"

As I said, these books are fluff.  Does a reader always need to be completely stimulated and interested in what they read?  Well I think it is nice but sometimes I'm too tired to think so maybe these series are a good respite. 

But I must say, when I  put this book down I knew immediately I would not remember it more than next week and the next Penguin I pick up will probably stay with me a lifetime.  Think I'll get back to the Penguins.

" Yeah!! Get back to the Penguins, we
hate these clothes....and these sunglasses.....


  1. I've given up on several series when I felt that the authors had lost the plot. Martha Grimes, Elizabeth George and Patricia Cornwell all lost me even though they all had characters that I wanted to catch up with. It just wasn't worth the tedium! I also read less crime these days but I read all these series for years and would still be reading them if they hadn't lost the plot. I just think life's too short and I have too many other books to read.

  2. Thanks Lyn, That is the most sensible thing I have heard today. Will be starting something more interesting tonight. Pam

  3. I forwarded your link to a friend in KS who reads these authors.


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