Saturday, 13 June 2015

Bookish Takeout [2]: Should we give a series a second chance?

Bookish Takeout is an original blog feature on The Devil Orders Takeout, featuring book hauls, to-read books, upcoming releases, and all sorts of bookish love!

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?
Should we give a series a second chance?

Series I've given second chances to:

Funny thing is, these are on my fav-books-ever list.

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 ... forgot the other one, but it was a "fool of a Took" Pippin! that's it!

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?
Should we give a series a second chance?
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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?


Twitter-sized takeout:
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22 comments:

  1. Oh, I love this post! I usually have trouble keeping up with series because I get distracted by other books, but I guess waiting until all the books are out is a better option, right? So, for me to continue a series or to give it another try, I have to really love the characters and the story.

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    1. OMG, I get distracted SO OFTEN. Unless I buy all the books together, I just forget I have yet to read the next books! Waiting's definitely a choice, but I often feel the need to jump on the bandwagon when it's all hyped XD Characters are sooo important in my decision.

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  2. Shall we count the number of series I've started but never finished? *sigh*

    For me, it usually comes down to the technical nitty-gritty of the writing. If the grammar and punctuation are bad, I won't be continuing with the series... no matter how exciting the plot is or how intriguing the characters are. Poor quality writing kills my enjoyment (and my will to continue with a series) faster than just about anything else!

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    1. *sighs with you* I know the feeling.

      I don't think I'd even consider finishing the first book if I had to struggle through bad prose and such. Beautiful writing is one of my absolute fav things, so I hate it when even grammar is wrong. Hell, I don't think I'd even enjoy a poor-grammar but nice-plot fanfiction!

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  3. It's funny, we seem to have opposite book tastes. I tried to read Game of Thrones but both times it's just been too cumbersome to want to read the rest; I watched the first season of the show and the characters don't really compel me, either, so I don't think I'll give that series a second chance. I have read Lord of the Rings and my thoughts on that... IT'S JUST SO CUMBERSOME THAT'S THE ONLY WORD I CAN THINK OF TO USE. Meanwhile, I loved Shadow and Bone because I entered it with no expectations and was delighted that the villain was the love interest (NO BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW GREAT THAT IS I LOVE WHEN EVIL IS TEMPTING) and I agree that the cover of the other one is pretty but I haven't felt like picking it up. I'm not a second chances person in general... But I do give chances, which I feel like it. I am quite the malevolent reader.

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    1. I chose these on purpose because they were really difficult choices to make! Okay, the truth is, for GoT the choice wasn't that difficult because my friend cajoled me into getting the entire series (and my goodness, do you know how expensive these are standalone?) But I really enjoyed it in the end so it paid off.

      Meanwhile the other two series were books where everyone was telling me, "But the second one is even better!" It came down to whether to trust other people on the second book or myself on the first one. And really, Heather, of *course* you liked the villain being the love interest. I liked that too. I just didn't like the sidekick. XD

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  4. I totally agree that the struggle is real. XD There is absolutely 0% of me that is interested in finishing the Matched series. But, funny you should mention Shadow & Bone and the Winner's Curse. xD OKAY BUT I GAVE BOTH OF THEM "MEH" RATINGS. I liked them but wasn't blown away at all. And then both the sequels were 5-stars for me. *flails* So I kind of reeeealy do recommend you keep reading. But at the same time, if they're not for you? Don't bother. There are too many books in the world. ^_^ I almost always continue with series if I at all liked the first book. Usually it takes me two million years, buuuut. I try.

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    1. That's exactly why I chose those two books! Everyone is telling me, "are you serious? The next books are SO AMAZING." And I'm like, "that's what people said with the first book. Do I trust you? DO I?" It basically boiled down to the hard fact that I had a really long TBR of books without that first negative impression, so as you say, there are too many books. We have to choose. Valar morghulis.

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  5. Usually, if I like one book, I will like the whole series, but not always. I LOVED the first three books in The Monstrumologist series but decided not to read the last one because I knew it all ended in the most horrible way possible, and I loved the characters too much to put myself through that. I wasn't too crazy about Throne of Glass, so I never picked up Crown of Midnight, but I've heard that it's much better, so I might give it a try.

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    1. I've actually found that a lot of series deteriorate over time ... Hunger Games, Maze Runner, even Harry Potter to a small extent (although it made its rebound in the last one-and-a-half books.) But I love it when series end in the most horrible way possible, so now you've just interested me. I have the exact same problem with ToG! The sample chapter didn't pull me in so I never got it, then I read ACOTAR and didn't like it, but everyone tells me "the second book is better!"

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  6. I don't think I've really come to the point when I quit on a series exactly. If I don't like the first book, normally I won't even finish it. There was one series though. . . I don't remember what the series was called. But the first book was Finnikin of the Rock. And I adored it so much! It was absolutely beautiful and I loved the world of the book and just everything. Then I tried to read the sequel, something about Froi of the Exiles, I think. The cover was amazing, and I loved the title. But I didn't make it to the fourth chapter. I really tried. But the topics the book brought up in the beginning and the mental images the dialogue was giving me kind of put me off. . . I might try it again though. Just because I loved the first book so much, and I'm curious about some of those side characters.

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    1. I actually really liked The Winner's Curse, but still made the decision not to try the next book. And I just hate it when the first book is wonderful and the next ones aren't. I also hate it when books have beautiful covers and premises and titles but don't live up to the potential. I FEEL LIED TO. THAT CAN'T HAPPEN.

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  7. I think the only series I've ever quit intionally was The Mortal Instrument. I lost interest in the characters and the storyline was going down hill for the last three books. Otherwise, I usually just forget to keep up with book series. I'm the type of person who always wants to know what happens next, so I torture myself by reading series I hate. Like the Left behinds series. WORSE BOOKS EVER. But I needed to know how it ended. The struggle was real.

    I'm in the process of reading LotR and I understand the frustration. It's SO SLOW. I just want Frodo to disappear already.

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    1. I've never tried Mortal Instruments because my best friend told me it was a bit of an HP rip-off, even though everyone online insists it's the best thing ever! Forgetting about a series is also an issue. But I'm not too desperate to find out what happens -- in fact if a book ends on an unfinished cliffhanger, I just get annoyed and not read the next book out of pure spite XD

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  8. People change and so you can end up liking books you didn't like at first. I love The Great Gatsby now, but the first time I read it, I hated it. I don't tend to give series a second chance though. I don't read many series, and to start all over again a year later is frustrating. Now I think about it, I'm even sure what the last series I read was xD
    Your graphic is awesome! :)

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    1. Yes, that happens to me too! With LOTR especially -- that took me a while to love, but now I will defend it to the death. Oh yes, some people just dislike series and that's fine! Although YA is overrun with fantasy trilogies these days -- standalones are mostly contemporary.

      Thanks! I'm still getting the hang of it XD

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  9. Girl I love your infographic there! So nice xD For me, it's actually really non-formulaic. If I'm just seeing too many people raving over the series, I kinda just cave in and decide to give it another go - like with the Raven Boys. I DNFed it but I want to give it another shot because everyone says it gets so much better and faster paced after you get through the first half.

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    1. It's normally non-formulaic for me too! But when I thought more about it, it just so happened that I realised I considered similar elements every time -- character, plot, ending, style, etc. I hadn't thought of hype as a possible factor, although it definitely is! Oops, you got me worried about the Raven Boys there -- everyone's so excited over it I was thinking I might nab it before the fourth book comes out. But now I'm hesitating. (Which is good, you know, my TBR is way too long for average books.) :D

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  10. I have kind of a different problem- I MAKE myself finish series, even if I don't love the first book. SO dumb. Especially with TMI. Seriously, someone should have smacked me. The only book that I KNOW I will not continue with is Magonia. I didn't like it much, but I also DID like the ending. But otherwise.. I will keep reading almost any series. Part of me even wants to read the next Seeker book! WHY!? Just why!? I should listen to your chart. Your chart is good.

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. I used to have that problem too! But at that time I wasn't acquainted with the book blogosphere and so wasn't as swamped by TBRs. I automatically dislike books which don't stand alone (first books in a series, at least), so I'm somewhat spared that -- but I'm glad the infographic is helpful!

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  11. I have struggled to finish so many series but I never thought of listening to a series rather than reading, thats a good idea!

    Great post!

    Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings

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    1. The issue mainly arose for Lord of the Rings and other classic-y, dense books. It works for me often, so I hope you manage to read more series!

      Thanks for dropping by, Heather!

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