Oct 26 2011 5:00pm

Series-ish Addiction: When to Stick With ’Em, When to Move On

Naked in Death by J.D. RobbAuthors writing series books is now the norm in romance; but what makes a series great, and what makes readers decide not to follow the series through to its end?

The draw of any series is the characters. Reading a series that involves the same main characters requires character growth. It’s also important to see the addition of new sub-characters who will add to the overall series. If a series features a new hero and heroine in each book, I want to meet them in a prior book. I’m not much for blind dates; I want to get to know them before I invest my time. I want to get excited and anticipate their stories.

One of my favorite series is the J.D. Robb In Death series, which encompasses all the different genre that I love: romance, police drama and science fiction. The main characters in this series are Homicide Detective Lt. Eve Dallas, and her husband, the rich and gorgeous Roarke. The growing cast of subcharacters include her partner Peabody, Peabody’s detective boyfriend, McNab, and Dallas former partner, Capt. Feeney. With over 30 books in the series to date, we have spent a lot of time in the world of Eve Dallas and company. During that time we have seen the growth of Eve Dallas from an efficient police detective, a lone wolf, who was uncomfortable with the affections of her new husband to a loving wife and thoughtful friend. If the thought of 30 books seem too daunting for you, know that each book is its own investigation and they can be enjoyed individually.

Fated by Rebecca ZanettiBut you don’t need to have 30 books to draw my interest; Rebecca Zanetti began her Dark Protectors series back in March 2011 with Fated. She not only presents an interesting story premise by adding science, DNA and biological warfare to the world of vampires, she writes it as a continuing saga. She thoroughly piqued my interest in all her characters, and I have been rewarded with the next book Claimed, whose main character, Emma, caught my attention in the few pages of her we saw in Fated.

To have a successful series, an author has to provide enough of an introduction of the future characters so we are desperate to read their next story. In Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, Cole has been hinting at the very complex and volatile love story of Thronos and Melanthie since Kiss of a Demon King was released in January 2009. Her next book, due out in January 2012 is about Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, who has been in the background plotting and scheming through most of her books. Although Lothaire’s story has been highly anticipated, I am telling you right now, if she doesn’t get down to it and write Thronos and Melanthie’s story next, I am going to take a page out of Stephen King’s Misery and lock her in a room until she writes that story. She’s making me crazed. A novel, a short-story, a pamphlet, I don’t care. I want that story!

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn SparksKerrelyn Sparks infuses humor into her Love at Stake series. The witty and playful banter between the main characters make each story delightful and makes me laugh, no matter how many times I read it. This series also deviates from the usual “fated” mate which is so popular with paranormal romances. The LAS characters spend their story falling in love which makes these books just as much of a love story as a vampire story. She also introduced us to a wonderful cast of characters. Fans have been eagerly anticipating Gregori’s story since we first met him in How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire. His story was just released in September, and was charming and funny and everything we have come to expect from both Gregori and from Kerrelyn Sparks.

I have only recently found Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series. Not only does she write some truly unforgettable characters, but she adds some fresh ideas to the normal paranormal genre. Her Dark-Hunter series also encompasses three different types of main characters: Dark-Hunters, Were-Hunters and Dream-Hunters. Staggering the main premise makes sure that her stories don’t become stale. Her antagonists, as well as her protagonists, are evolving as the series continues; she has moved on from the straight, soul-sucking daimon threat to add the Gallu (one bite will turn you into one), and in her last book, Retribution, she brought in a new apocalyptical threat drawn from Native American stories.

But as much as I love a series, over the years I have found that there are some series that I have completely lost interest in continuing. Why? Boring characters!

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine HarrisMost recently, I have given up on Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse. I was never truly enamored with Sookie. She just wasn’t exciting. She’s a waitress who can read minds (oooo!)…and? She has a vampire boyfriend (yay!)…and? She keeps getting into trouble (very I Love Lucy)…and?... and?… More importantly, many of the other characters whom we were introduced to in the series were not very interesting. Sexy vampire Bill turns into Eric’s gopher. Sexy danger vampire Eric gets all clingy and needy after he finally sleeps with Sookie. Non-vampire love interests include Sam, a shifter, whose character was never well developed; Alcide, a werewolf, who became very wishy-washy after his initial introduction; and Quinn, a were-tiger, who had some big mommy issues. When her last book Dead Reckoning came out in May of this year, I didn’t even bother to put it on my TBR list. I have had enough of Sookie Stackhouse and her lackluster supporting cast.

I am an avid reader, but like all of us, my reading time is limited and very precious. What series do you still love? Which ones have you given up on?


Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog  Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession.  When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Have to say, I've given up on several series.

I read the first few In Death novels and they were good, but after Eve and Roarke settled down, I lost interest. I'm not a big procedural fan in general, so the cases were never what I was in it for.

Another series I haven't read in a while is Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters. Was obsessed with them there for a while, but after Max and Gina's story, I wasn't as crazy about any of the couples. I loved how she built up both Sam/Alyssa and Max/Gina over several books (including Over the Edge, which remains my favorite in the series) and later couples just never grabbed ahold of me like they did.
Rose In RoseBear
2. Rose In RoseBear
I have, somewhere, a much-tattered paperback copy of Naked In Death that I bought brand-new 16 years ago. I can't imagine ever giving up the In Death series.

I haven't given up on any romance series, but I did, sadly, put the Pern books aside. Still love the old ones, but I can't handle Todd McCaffrey's writing. I also stopped reading Dune books when it got too expensive to throw then against the wall.

Kay Hooper's Bishop series got away from me; I started it, loved it, but missed a bunch of books, and now have to figure out how to get the rest of the novels so I can catch up! Same for Catherine Coulter's FBI series.

Durn books ... never come out when you want them to! Either I'm waiting (BDB! Alpha & Omega! Mercy Thompson! J. D. Robb! Jim Butcher!) or there are so many out I'm not sure where to start (Kay Hooper, Catherine Coulter, Sherrilyn Kenyon)!
Elizabeth Halliday
3. Ibbitts
Thank you for your reccomendations. I am always looking for new series to read. I am a huge fan of Robb's In Death series, Cole's Immortals After Dark series and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark/Were/Dream Hunters series having read all the books and short stories in each. I couldn't even get all the way through the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. (I thought it was me at the time. Thanks for affermation.) So I will immediately put Rebecca Zanetti and Karrelyn Sparks on my read list. Side note: I am a series girl. My friend Karen is a stand-alone girl. We both read the In Death series and both love the books, but Karen doesn't try to read them in order. She says they are police detective stories that have some personal stuff thrown in. I say the whole series is a love story with a "crime of the week" featured in each book. We have some fun discussions! The series I am near to dropping is Janet Evonovich's Stephanie Plum Number series. After sixteen books, I pertty-well had the character traits of each principal set in my head. In book #17, one of the characters did something that seemed radically out of character to me. So much so that if the trend continues in book #18 (due out next month), I will be dropping the series.
Kristin O
4. krismas29
I am getting nervous about Nalini Singh's next book in her Psy Changling series. I think there are 10 books so far, and the series has been one of my all time favorites. But I had been eagerly anticipating Hawke's book (published May 2011) and I am not sure that she has done enough of an introduction of Riaz - the wolf changling hero of the next book.

The Psy backstory is still phenomenal and largely unresolved, but I feel like all of the characters that I have come to "know" through the series have all had their books and I hope I can come to care about a new crop of leads. Fingers crossed!
Rose In RoseBear
5. Lucy D.
I was going to try the Stephanie Plum series. It is one of my mother's favorite series but when she told me that I can't read them one after the other since they are pretty cookie cutter in style and character. I decided I wasn't interested enough to bother. After reading Nalini Singh's Lord of Abyss (loved it), I picked up a copy of Angel's Blood which is the 1st in the Guild Hunter series. It sounded interesting. I will keep the Psy Changeling series in mind whether or not I like the Guild Hunter. I tried Catherine Coulter's books, but after Eve Dallas, her female FBI agents seem a little too helpless and girly for me.
Carmen Pinzon
6. bungluna
I follow so many series that I've had to make a spreadsheet for myself with titles and publication dates to keep it straight. I have droped some series altogether, but mostly I find that I'll borrow them from the library and skim through the most recent books looking for tidbits about past favorite characters. And sometimes I find myself coming back to them after a few novels when the author goes in a direction that's more enticing to me.
7. Janga
I'm a serious series addict. I read too many to list, although my tastes run to historicals and contemporaries. I just read Robyn Carr's Hidden Summit, which, counting two novellas, was #17 in the series. A Scandalous Countess (February 2012) will be #12 in Jo Beverley's Malloren World series, and I've read all of the previous eleven at least twice. There are mystery series with romantic elements that I'm hooked on too: Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott (#17 will be released next month), Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson-Russ Van Alstyne (I'm hoping for #8 in 2012), and Marie Force's Sam Holland-Nick Cappuano (#4 set for February 2012) are my top three. And I'm still sad that Nora Roberts's MacGregors stopped at ten (plus one novella).
Rose In RoseBear
8. Bookworm-at-Starbucks
Bravo! You said it all! I love KS and SK the most. Their characters are hilarious and worth quoting. I will admit that I was in middle school when I started these series but thanks to them, it kind of shape my character and personality today.
The Sookie Stack House series or whatever was never on my 'to-read' list since... well you listed them all, really. I find that if the characters are like someone you want to meet in real life then the book is worth reading.
Rose In RoseBear
9. Ceri
Love the In Death series even after all this time, same with Psy/Changeling & Ghostwalker, along with Dresden and the Hollows series. I gave up on Robin Hobb with the Rain Wild series as the characters were bland, also the Sookie series around book 4.
I recently discovered Chloe Neill Chicagoland series, and am really enjoying them.
10. bejeweledcat
Gini Koch's Alien series. I picked up book 2, Alien Tango, at the library and by chapter two had requested all the others in the series.
Beth Rogers
11. Shiranui
Thanks again, wonderful people. On a whim, I looked up the Chicagoland series and am really enjoying the excerpt. I´ve been dying for something new to read!
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