People often talk about giving authors a second chance, debating how writing styles and plots change between books. But can we love and dislike books in the same genre, and style? With the same characters, in the same series?
Series I've given second chances to:
Why I gave these books a second chance:
Let me be clear, A Game of Thrones is pretty fabulous. I hesitated because it was thick, and the PoVs were a tad confusing, and honestly I only cared about Arya and Dany. Then everyone was complaining over how it was incomplete (and praying that GRRM wouldn't die before finishing the books). But Arya and Dany were pretty fabulous, I loved the lush writing style and the worldbuilding, and honestly, I NEEDED MORE DRAGONS AND ICE ZOMBIES. (I'm ... sorta still waiting for the ice zombies.)
Funnily enough, the other series is also epic fantasy. But Honest Trailers were right to call Lord of the Rings the "overly dense nerd Bible", and all the names were so confusing, and why do I care about these hobbits called Merry and ...
But I tried again by reading it out loud (too poor to afford audiobooks, ahaha), and by the time we arrived in Lorien again, I was hooked. With the main cast scattered and the Ring still tempting poor Frodo, I gave in — and thank goodness, or I wouldn't have met Eowyn. *flails*
Series I decided to stop reading:
Why I didn't give these books a second chance:
I was fairly late to the Leigh Bardugo hype, I'll admit, so I think all three books were out before I finally tried Shadow and Bone. With that cover, I was expecting a enthralling, dark fantasy (yes, I'm a shallow person, deal with it); and instead, I spent half of the book with a girl who ... can't use her magic powers. And is sort of attracted to an obviously evil guy.
But I actually still identified with Alina, even if Mal wasn't my fav sidekick. Until Alina won through the power of ... kindness. Kindness?? I mean, here I was, expecting GoT-levels of cynicism and ending up with a Cinderella Aesop. The main issue here, I think, was that I expected something entirely different from what is, to other people I'm sure, a fabulous book.
The Winner's Curse I found through Tumblr, actually, and Kestrel's strategic skills were what really impressed me. I decided to give it a shot — and here's what's funny, I actually love Kestrel. I'm on the fence with Arin, but I definitely ship him with Kestrel. The plot was tight and thrilling, the writing style was beautifully evocative, and it had a fabulous cover. (Still being shallow!)
But I loved the ending too much. It was bittersweet without compromising the tone of the book or the characters' motivations, it fulfilled the characters' dreams in the worst way possible without being a complete downer ending. And I could perfectly envision this status quo as the characters' ever after, even if there is no happily. In other words, I could put the book down and waltz away without regrets.
(I'm aware, though, that most other people found it an amazing cliffhanger, so I suppose that really goes to show how different bookish tastes can be. Pun not intended.)
So how does my decision-making process really work?
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What makes you stop reading a series? Will you forgive a first book's flaws in hopes of an improved sequel?
- Should we give a series a second chance? @AlyssaC_HK breaks it down. (Click to Tweet)
- 4 questions @AlyssaC_HK asks to decide whether to continue a series. (Click to Tweet)