Should I Continue Reading This Series? A Handy Flowchart!

Posted May 16, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 39 Comments

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

The Series Reading 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:

1. Cliffhangers

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.

2. Characters

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.

3. Plot

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.

4. Genre

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? 

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39 responses to “Should I Continue Reading This Series? A Handy Flowchart!

  1. Your post is perfect for a subject I am working on for a blog post and possibly a vlog. I would love to have this as a link. Hope that is okay. Want to spread the word about provoking tips and make sure I am giving people a voice.

    Blair

  2. Oh, thanks! This is so helpful. This is probably the hardest thing about reading: is the series worth the time? Unless the first book is 4/5 stars, that is an immediately ‘yes’ for me. Those 3 stars are indeed the tricky series. I saved this on my computer and I hope to use it in the future 😀

  3. Hannah @ Once Upon A Time

    I’m actually quite terrible with finishing series! I have a tendency to get hold of book 1 because I’m told it’s good, I might read that to see if the rest is worthwhile, then can’t afford the rest or get distracted by something else. SO OFTEN.

  4. Lately it’s been taking me a lot of time to move on to the next book in the series, because the characters and story line aren’t new to me anymore. I like moving onto something new because I always feel like the next book will be my new favourite, the life-changer, the one that I won’t put down. I get back to series after a while but it takes me a few months unfortunately. After that amount of time I start missing the characters, I get re-invested, and I return to the series.

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  6. Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

    This is so handy and wonderful! I love that you took the time to make this. I should *probably* start being more choosey with the series I continue on with. I’m really awful with sticking things out to the end. I’m always afraid I’ll miss something good later on. Usually that doesn’t happen though, haha.

    • ME TOO. This is why I have a hard time DNF-ing. My brain always whispers, “What if it gets realy amazing towards the end and now you’ll never know?” I’m getting better at not finishing both books & series when I feel like it, but it can be so hard sometimes!

  7. This is great, especially seeing as more and more books tend to come in series now. And I also struggle with the three star books. Really love the flowchart!

    • It definitely seems like pretty much every other book is in a series now, which can get frustrating(even when I love said series!) Thanks for stopping by!

      • I know right! I mean, I love series, especially when they are epic. But I love single books as well. I just feel as if there’s an overflow of series now. How often do you see books being published as # 1 in a new series? Too often in my opinion. Another thing I always think when I see that is: what’s wrong with a duology? There are so many trilogies which would have done better as a duology seeing as the middle book is void of anything real…

        Sorry for the rant!

  8. Asti (A Bookish Heart)

    I’m with you. I usually prefer to finish everything I start. (It’s the same problem I have when it comes to trying to DNF a book. I can’t do it!) I think series are a bit more manageable though. You have to draw the line somewhere just because there are so many series that you can constantly be reading about the same world and characters every year without getting any new books read just because every book is part of a series these days! I think your flow chart is really helpful, and super clever. I don’t think the cliffhanger sways me when it comes to deciding whether or not to read on, but the characters, plot, and genre definitely do! Great post 🙂

    • I feel mine’s the perfectionist tendency– to not give up, etc.! I’ve actually gotten better about DNF-ing books though. And I agree that series are a bit more manageable. Even though I hate not finishing a series, it doesn’t cause me QUITE the same internal struggle that DNF-ing does. I’m jealous of your ability to not be persuaded by cliffhangers– even when I KNOW I’m being manipulated into reading the next book, they still work. My curiosity gets the better of me!

    • Ugh, that’s not very fun to have a lot of 1 & 2 star reads in a row(I feel your pain! my spell just recently broke), but at least we won’t need to finish the series? A silver lining, I suppose.

  9. Stormy, you are adorably nerdy! I love it :-). Series drive me mad nowadays, I’m afraid to go count how many more I need to buy and read just to complete the story. The flowchart is so cute but practical too, I really agree with your logic.

  10. Kelly

    I totally have this same problem! I recently picked up The Death Cure, because I had to find out why they were put in that damn maze! I could care less about the characters, and there’s a lot of plot holes/liberties taken, but I NEED ANSWERS! If I had had this flowchart, I wouldn’t have picked up book 2 and maybe I wouldn’t feel so torn over this series! Haha

    • ooh, I had trouble with that one too! I didn’t even really LIKE The Maze Runner particularly well(it wasn’t bad, it was just OK though), and yet the Books-a-Million in my town had the 2nd and 3rd one on sale so I almost buy them EVERY time I go in there. But I don’t NEED to, because I don’t really like it! It can be a vicious cycle. And while The Maze Runner trilogy isn’t the only one, I will say it’s the series that made me THINK of this flowchart in the first place!

  11. Dude, this is seriously awesome! And it’s going to come in handy for me, for sure, because I seem to encounter a lot of 3-star books. Sigh!

  12. I love the flowchart! There are so many series that I don’t like that much, but I feel I need to finish reading the *whole* story–the cliffhangers in the series especially get me!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  13. Hahaha, awesome idea! I am a completionist, as you know, but I’m starting to be more critical. I think the first question that comes to my mind is if I REMEMBER what happened in the book. I am quite forgetful, but if it’s a couple of months after I read a book and I don’t remember at all what happened, that means it’s totally forgettable and probably not worth my time at all. Then it’s the characters. I need a connection, or the book will completely bore me. Then I think plot. Cliffhangers don’t actually bother me so much, and genre to me doesn’t mean that much in terms of continuing or not. Nice post!

    • That’s a really great consideration too– because if you don’t remember the first book after a couple of months, then there’s really no REASON to continue on. And series I WANT to continue I probably remember at least the basics of the first book for quite a while. I’m jealous of your ability to NOT be bothered my cliffhangers– ah, I love & hate them so at the same time!

    • It really is, and I’m SO bad about not taking advantage of the library. It’s definitely one of my goals for the summer & fall of this year.

  14. Ahhh. This is PERFECT. 3 star book are the ones that give me a bit of trouble as well. I’ll need to keep this in mind in the future. 🙂

    • The three stars are so hard, because they’re good, but not great, and I’m normally “meh” about ACTUALLY wanting to finish, but not leave series unread, etc. I’m trying to be better about remembering that I read for ENJOYMENT and if I don’t enjoy what I read, then it’s time to move on to something else!

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