SERIES. Love them or hate them, they’re everywhere(and yes, I did just use that cliche). Especially in Young Adult, it seems almost every book that’s not a contemporary is part of a series. I automatically assume most books I pick up are the beginning of the series, and it’s shocking where I realize it isn’t.
Now, readers and bloggers have been debating the pros and cons of the series for a long time with great cases on both sides, and while I think it’s a valid topic, it’s not the one I want to address today. See, here’s my problem: Sometimes I don’t like the first book in a series, but I hate leaving series unread! I’ve forced myself to read sequels in series I don’t even like in the slightest! And while my inner reader might always weep at the idea of leaving a series unread, I’ve come to realize it not a good productive use of my reading time to struggle through a series I don’t like when there are just so many treasures of books left to explore.
So how do I decide whether to continue with a series or not? Well, I embraced my love of all things nerdy and made a flowchart, of course! This is just my personal decision chart I have decided to apply if I want to continue on with a series or not. I’m sure most readers have their own decision-making methods for all things bookish, but I wanted to share mine.
Should I continue this series? Version: Flowchart
And because I love charts so much, I even color-coded it! The yellow questions are my “caution” questions– do you really want to proceed with this series, Stormy? The green, of course, is for read away, and the red is code for “time to pick up another book”.
I created this flowchart mainly for 3 star books, because those are the ones I never know if I want to continue on with the series or not. Of course I’ll carry on with 4 and 5 stars, and 1 and 2 stars would only be read for morbid curiosity, but those 3 stars are so hard. My 3 stars typically mean that I like it, but there were significant shortcomings or at the very least, nothing special. You can look at the flowchart above, obviously, to see what I decided on, but here are some of the things I’ve decided to consider when evaluating 3 star reads for series continuation or not:
If a book ends in a cliffhanger, it’s almost a guaranteed way to keep me reading, even as I hate them so. I really, really hate when I feel I’m being manipulated with a cliffhanger ending, and so sometimes I purposely refuse to continue the series because of that (see: The Maze Runner), but when cliffhangers feel more natural and go with the story I’m typically a fan. Sometimes I see the huge “twists” coming, but I still like the thrill of anticipation as I eagerly buy or wait for that next book.
Characters go along way with me. Your Dystopian novel has terrible world building, a lackluster plot, and only decent prose, but awesomely done characters? It might not be an instant-favorite, but it’s pretty much a guarantee I’ll keep reading. I love good plots, but I read for characters first. If the answer to this question is a “no”, there’s no point in even continuing.
Even though plot is definitely secondary to characterization to me, a book’s plot can make up for a lot of flaws and lack of love on my part. It might not make it perfect, but a good plot will probably tip the scales for me on my decision to continue with a series or not.
This is the last question on my flowchart because it’s definitely the least important out of all these things. However, that being said, if I really love the genre the series is set in, it might be enough for me to continue reading if the original book is 3 stars and I have hopes for a decent to good ending.
How do you feel about finishing series? Do you feel the compulsive need to finish a series once you start? And how do you decide on whether to continue with a series if the first book falls in the middle for you?