Friday, July 24, 2009

Series Or Not A Series?

I’m looking for responses to the following questions concerning book series. Please feel free to choose any or all that you’d like to answer.

1. Do you and/or your children prefer a series, or do you consider books individually, regardless of their being part of a larger series?

2. When you read a book, and the story is complete, are you satisfied with this, or are you looking for additional installments?

3. With films, it’s often true that the second and third films are not as good as the first. Do you find this true, or do you prefer seeing film I, II, and III just as much?

4. Can you name any book series where the characters are not repeated in books subsequent to book # 1.

5. When choosing a series, are you attracted mostly to the author, because of other books you’ve read by that author, or are you attracted to the book itself?

6. As a child, and being a reluctant reader, I thought is was a bit silly for the same group of kids, in the same neighborhood, to essentially save the world every Saturday morning. In other words, I couldn’t accept that so many fantastic things would possibly ever happen to the same characters over and over again. What is your opinion?

7. When you read a traditional series, with the same characters, do you feel that each subsequent book is as good as, or better than the one that preceded it? Why or why not?

8. In a traditional series, do you like the fact that, before you read book # 4, for example, you have to first read the previous three?

9. What are you looking for in a book series?

10. Do you have any additional thoughts?

Thank you for your responses.

If you prefer to email your answers, send them to


rick said...

1) Stand alone when it comes to children's books.

2) As long as it's wrapped up cleanly, I'm satisfied.

3) As a majority, I don't think they are better than the first.

4) Nothing comes to mind.

5) First I'm attracted to the author and then to what the book is about.

6) I think the same about Angela Lansbury on "Murder She Wrote". It's like every where she goes, there's someone getting killed. I'd do everything I can to stay away from her.

7) If the story line is a continuation, the I think all books are as good as the first. If the books are just cookie cutters from the first book, then there's no reason to keep reading.

8) If all of the books are intriguing, then I like to have to read all 4 in order.

9) I'm looking for a series that each book wraps up the story.

Admin said...

OK - here's my answers...

1. I consider books individually.

2. Usually I'm satisfied. But sometimes there are secondary characters I'd love to see more of.

3. It depends on the movie - if they just keep redoing the same plot of the first it gets old. Love the Harry Potter movies because while all are connected each is unique. Matrix fell apart in the sequels.

4. Sherrilyn Kenyon's B.A.D. and Dark Hunter series, Alexis Morgan's Paladin's of Darkness, Kerrelyn Sparks Vampire Series, Christine Warren's Others, Marjorie M. Liu's Dirk & Steele. Lora Leigh has a couple series out, Angela Knight has her Sci-fi Series and her Mageverse.. there are more.

5. Some of both - usually find a series at book 2 or 3 then if I like I keep reading and go back and get the others.

6. It's up to the writer to make me suspend my disbelief about that. I usually prefer series that each book while part of the whole focus on different characters.

7. I find that most books that use the same characters fall apart because the plot twist get predictible... NOW the exception is Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series - in each book a new facet of the characters is revealed.

8. Not as a rule. Reading the previous books should give you a deeper insight into the world. But it's the writer's responsibility to give enough information in each book that a new reader isn't totally lost.

9. A good story that keeps me involved. Single title or Series... I'll stop reading a series if I get bored with it because it's the same thing just new characters.

10. Bottom line the author has to keep the readers interest and still be accessible to new readers.

Keeley said...

1. My children and I prefer individual books. We have no problem with them being part of a larger series, but if they are part of a series we prefer them to be stand-alone. We generally feel tricked when the book has a cliffhanger. We like definite endings.

2. It totally depends on the book. Some (for example, “Treasure Island”, or “Children of the New Forest”) are extremely satisfying all by themselves. Others (for example, uhm…I can’t think of a children’s book, but one series that pops into my head is the McCaffery Dragon series) leave me looking for more….but not in a frantic “What’s the end of the story” way. That frantic “GAH! I have to know the end!” is intensely irritating.

3. I believe this is true. Sequels are rarely as good as the first film.

4. Not off the top of my head.

5. Usually the book itself. OTOH, if I’ve read a book that I believe is truly excellent, I look up the author and make a note of his/her other books for future reference.

6. I would get totally lost in the fantasy of any book I read, losing consciousness of the real world around me, being totally drawn into the story, living it out in my mind. The disbelief was completely suspended. I never remember feeling “Yeah, right”. OTOH, I didn’t read twaddle, and I didn’t read any series as a child (Except for the EXCELLENT Tintin series of graphic books).

7. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. Normally not, but occasionally I’m surprised.

8. YES! Absolutely! Which is why it’s so stinkin’ irritating.

9. I’m looking for at least a weak link to the first book. Doesn’t have to be the same characters – it can be a very minor character from the first book that is highlighted. Or completely different people on the same land or in the same situation. What I mean is – a link to the first book, but not a continuation of it…..unless the continuation is completely stand-alone.

10. I’ve read one post on your blog, and I’m enjoying it very much thus far. =)

Becky Tidberg said...

Guess I disagree with most of the other posters. I love a good series. I read tons and enjoy not having to waste the first half of the book getting to know a whole new cast of characters. I prefer it when the books have the character tie to them but they don't need to be a continuation. I was a big fan of the Nancy Drew, Bopsey Twins, etc. when I was younger and today I enjoy cozy mysteries that have the same cast but different plots.

Jessica said...

1. My boys prefer books in series, but if an individual book catches their eye, they will read it regardless of whether or not it is in a series. They do seem to prefer series better and have a list of several series that they check online regularly to see if a new one is coming out any time soon.

As a mother, I also prefer a series of books to individual books because if I find one that they like, I can relax for a while and not have to worry about getting them hooked on anything else for a while. As a reader, I like both series and individual books.

2. When I read a book, and the story is complete, I am satisfied with it. However, if I later find a sequel, I don’t complain. If my boys read an individual book and they really like it, they will ask me to check to see if it is part of a series.

3. I agree that usually in films, sequels are rarely as good as the first one. However, I take this into account when I watch them and so, accepting them for what they are, I usually enjoy the sequels to so extent.

4. Goosebumps. Well, actually there are a few books that repeat characters, but most don’t . Also, I think that the American Chillers by Jonathan Rand uses different characters in each book, but I am not sure.

5. When choosing a series, both my boys and I can be attracted equally by the author or the book itself.

6. As a child, I never really thought about how everything happened to the same characters over and over again. As an adult, I wonder how Mr. Hardy could let his kids get involved in so many dangerous cases. My boys don’t seem to have a problem with it and enjoy reading about the same characters over again. They get comfortable with and attached to their favorite characters.

7. Sometimes I feel like the books in a series remain of the same quality throughout, and sometimes they seem to decline in quality with each book. Occasionally, I find one really bad book right in the middle of a good series.

8. I prefer to start a series with the first book, but if the library only has book 3 and book 7 and they look promising, I’ll take what I can get. It is almost impossible to get my kids to read book 2 in a series if they haven’t read book 1.

9. For my boys, I am looking for books that are funny, about sports, or about boys. My boys also prefer short books. They also like the occasional picture.

Anna C. Morrison said...

I'm not great with organization and numbers. It's too much like math. So I'll provide my general impressions below and hope that is acceptable.

If the characters are compelling and the plot is not predictable, then I often see my son yearning for another in the series. It depends on the quality of the original work, and then on the quality of the next, and so on.

However, MYSELF, growing up, I couldn't get enough Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, etc. Even the Hardy Boys. I liked the comfort and familiarity. I knew how each Bobbsey would react in each situation and I loved traveling the world with them. They were like friends who never let me down.

My son, though, is impatient and reckless and wants action and something new every second. He's more of a literary thrill seeker. Or not really literary. He prefers movies and video games. The books I expose him to he sometimes likes. I explain that movies were often first books. He gives me a blank stare.

He is completely hooked on Narnia. He wants more, and he wants it now. I showed him that I have the complete set. He doesn't want to read it. He's 11. I swallowed 500 page books before I was 10. He won't even open these. It's all about the effort.

So, sadly, I think if there is enough action and the characters are relatable, today's child will come back for more. It doesn't have to be "good," it just have to keep moving.

It's better if it's good, but it doesn't have to be. Just look at Spy Kids.

max said...

Thank you all for your comments. They were very helpful.