Waiting Sucks: The Woes of Loving Book Series

Waiting Sucks: The Woes of Loving Book Series

There is simply no way around it. When you begin a book series, unless the author decides to pull a Netflix and drop all of the books in the series in one day, there will be a wait involved before the sequel is available. Depending on the author, the next book could come out in a couple of months, a year or a few years. Some authors see the end in sight and know if their series will be a duology, trilogy or in some cases a heptalogy (see Rowling and the 7-part Harry Potter series), while others aren’t sure just how long the story will be before it finishes itself.

            I love series! I feel like the anticipation that comes with waiting for the sequels is part of the fun. It encourages me to reread the previous novels, trying to pick up on Easter eggs the author might have left behind. Series can allow for tremendous growth in characters as the story continues to be told. And the world building in series is usually incredible and I love when an author continues to build on the world throughout the books.

But I’ve been lucky. Until recently most of the series that I’ve read were finished when I started reading them. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series had been completed years before I ever picked up the first one, allowing me to consume the whole story with no disruptions. The same can be said with Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Game series, Marie Lu’s Legend series, and all three of Octavia E. Butler’s series: Earthseed, Patternmaster and Xenogenisis.
 But I’ve just read the first book in a few new series by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles), Tomi Adeyemi (The Children of Blood and Bone), Justina Ireland (Dread Nation) and L. Penelope (Song of Blood and Stone). Don’t even get me started on George R.R. Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire series (that I’m not sure he will ever finish but that’s another conversation about just being frustrated that I’m not ready to have yet). One thing I know, now that the waiting game has begun, is that waiting really sucks.

I'll admit it’s easier to wait when you know that you’re heading into a series. When you know the author has work to do before you can fall back in love with their characters. That's when you can mentally prepare yourself for the cliff the author might hang you off of. Nothing is more disorienting than picking up a book, falling in love with it and realizing after you’ve already dedicated yourself to it that there is another one to follow. That happened to me with Philippa Gregory’s Tudor novels. I finished The Other Boleyn Girl, without recognizing its position in the series and then preceded to devour the series. But I wasn’t prepared for it! I just wanted to read this book about sisters. I had not mentally prepared myself for the roller coaster style drama that is Henry VIII and his many wives. Yet and still, I continued that journey because I couldn’t pull myself away. I found myself stuck in a series.

        So what’s my alternative?! I know that I love reading series and while it’s great to find a completed series, fall in love with it and read it in no time flat, there’s also something really compelling about finding a series at its beginning and knowing the characters from the start. One of the moments I loved the most with the Harry Potter series was the dedication at the very beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It reads “The dedication of this book is split in seven ways: to Neil, to Jessica, to David, to Kenzie, to Di, to Anne and to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end.” This stopped me in my tracks before I even began reading the books because I had stuck with Harry to the very end. It was 2007 and I had been reading the series since the book was first published in the U.S. in 1998. Nine years of reading, rereading, discussing and dissecting the story until it reached its completion. And I still reread the series. I still feel connected to the story (just the novels, I do not speak of the play or of movies). And a lot of that has to do with being there from the start, before the movies or midnight releases, before the costumes or amusement parks, and being able to see it grow. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Waiting is simply part of the commitment to authors, we as readers make, when we begin a series. It’s our way of saying that we believe in their vision, we believe in their story and we are here,ready and willing to enjoy the ride. The wait can be extremely nerve wracking. We readers can be a pain in the ass when it comes to needing a sequel and needing it now, when months feel like years or when one year becomes five or more (looking at you Martin). But most readers know that patience is key. That writing is work and it takes time. In the end waiting still sucks, until our favorite authors deliver and remind us why we ever took this journey in the first place. And more often than not, the waiting is totally worth it.


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