Musing By Moonlight: Abandoning a Series

musing by moonlight

Welcome to my new series of posts Musing by Moonlight, where I take the opportunity to get off my chest anything and everything to do with books.
Or maybe not.
Depends how I feel.

Abandoning a Series

I love to read a good book series, but if I don’t absolutely love the first book (or subsequent ones), I’m okay with not finishing the rest of the series.

This infuriates some people:

  • “If you’d read the rest of the series you’d know that whatever issue you had in Book 1 was resolved in Book 7!”
  • “How can you be a fan if you’ve only read the first book?”
  • “You don’t get to criticise what happens in the first book because you didn’t read the second one!”

Look, books are meant to be complete stories on their own. The first book in a series should not just be a cash cow to get people to buy the second. I’m okay with cliffhangers – I’ve abandoned series even though they’ve used cliffhangers to try and suck me in to parting with my hard earned cash on the next book. What I can’t stand is books that can’t even complete their three act structure (or beginning, middle and end with a freaking climax for god’s sake) and still expect me to go on to the next book. If the author can’t tell a complete story in one book, I have no faith they’ll do it in the next book.

This doesn’t meant that every element needs to be covered and all questions answered in the first book, although that is a good reason to entice readers into the next book. There can be threads left tangled so long as there are no gaping plot holes. I want to be able to read the first book in the series and not feel frustrated or unsatisfied that the story’s not concluded.

I’m more than happy to try Book 1 in anything that interests me, but if it’s just a set up for Book 2, I’ll abandon it. If I can’t trust the author not to do whatever they did wrong again in the second book, I don’t trust them enough with my money.

I even feel this way when people try over and over to convince me that Book 2 is better than Book 1 (here’s looking at you, Throne of Glass!) And yes, while Catching Fire was my favourite out of the Hunger Games books, I didn’t feel manhandled into picking it up. I picked it up because I was curious, not because I was unsatisfied or it ended on a cliffhanger.

There are a ton of books series where I have read the first book and feel no desire whatsoever to pick up the sequels.

Do you feel shamed for not ‘completing the story’?
Do you feel that each individual book, regardless of cliffhanger, should be a complete story?
Are you okay with only reading one or a few books from a series and then not reading the rest?


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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19 thoughts on “Musing By Moonlight: Abandoning a Series

  1. Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity

    I definitely don’t feel ashamed if I do not complete a series. I recently read a first book in a series and did not like it AT ALL. I was groaning throughout the whole thing, and I just wanted it to finish already because I really didn’t like it. And then, when I finished, I wondered f I should continue with the series, even though I didn’t like the first book. I had conversations with a few people, and decided that I shouldn’t. My reading time is precious, and there are books that I could be reading and potentially loving, rather than continuing with a series that I know that I probably won’t like any better than the first book in said series. It’s our time, and we should use it for enjoyment, and not obligation.
    I don’t know if each book in a series should technically have it’s own individual story separate to the arc. But I think that SOMETHING should happen. I have read far too many first books in a series where literally NOTHING happens in the book. I get a bit frustrated in these situations, and feel like I have kind of wasted my time. I don’t read a first book just to be sucked into reading the second. I want a story in the first book that intrigues me enough to read the second book via my own choice. Yes, there can be loose threads. Like does x end up with y, or does z die? But there can be one too many cliffhangers in a series.
    I feel like I kind of already answered your third question. But if I have read more than the first book in the series, I will probably want to finish it, simply because I have invested my time in the plot and the characters, and I will want to see how everything pans out.

  2. Tanya Patrice

    I abandon series with abandon 🙂 I have no shame in my game. If book 1 doesn’t do it for me, I’m not moving on. If I’m borderline unsure, I may or may not continue with the series – but if the next book doesn’t grab me, that’s it.

  3. Wendy Darling (@MissWendyD)

    I do not feel ashamed, but sometimes fangirls try to shame me if I don’t finish something, hah.

    I totally agree that books in a series still need to have some resolution at the end (to at least one story arc, or end it on a well-written passage) that segues it into the next. I dont’ mind cliffhangers either, not even brutal ones like Chicagoland or VA, but I HATE the ones that feel like the story was chopped in half just to make another book, or the ones that feel manipulative. Not a fan.

    I have gotten way better at abandoning series if I don’t love them. Life’s too short, Nemo!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. Nemo

      Ugh, I hate cliffhangers that have clearly only been inserted to create another book. I need an actual resolution even if it is a cliffhanger! Thanks for stopping by Wendy!

  4. Kara @ Great Imaginations

    I completely agree with this, actually. I get annoyed with certain types of cliffhangers, and it makes me not want to continue the series if I feel like it’s a cash grab. It’s so obvious to me when it is and when it isn’t. And no one should make you feel bad or argue with you for not continuing a series. Especially when you have a really valid reason.

    1. Nemo

      No one should argue with you for not finishing a book anyway, but at least we can feel better when we DO have a valid reason. Thanks Kara!

  5. tanyadavis74

    I am that kid in middle school that breaks under the peer pressure. I did not love KMM’s Darkfever, but everyone, everywhere said, “keep reading”. So despite my better judgement I continued. Luckily that time turned out ok. Other times, the series has started out ok, but it goes downhill. I just can’t let them go. I feel like I’ve invested so much time into them that I need to give them the chance to redeem themselves. Unfortunately, me and my bank account are series challenged.

    1. Nemo

      I’m glad that time turned out OK for you, Tanya! True, sometimes series do go downhill. It’s so much easier to break up when they go bad, or the series is never ending and you an’t afford to invest.

  6. Deborah O'Neal Rice

    I might continue to at least sample book 2 if book 1 was bland and obviously doing a lot of series setup. If was book 1 was a good read but not really blowing me away, I do see what reading friends have to say about the series.

    There are only so many series I will try where friends say that by book 3 I will be hooked (I am trying very hard with the Kate Daniels series, Night Huntress, the one with Cat & Bones and Cassie Palmer—and that’s enough for me to juggle at one time in hopes book 3 is amazing.)

    I refuse to try series that are supposed to hook me by #7 or #15 (some serious eyerolling when friends try to tell me that; I’m sorry but I am not paying for the privilege to wade thru six or more bad-to-bland reads to get to the good parts). I still cannot believe anyone even recommends that; but, it keeps happening to me.

    1. Nemo

      Oh god, why would you invest in a series that doesn’t ‘get good’ until book #7 or so? That’s just too much!

  7. Karen H.

    If you don’t want to read a book you don’t read it, whether it’s a part of a series or not. I’ve got a couple of series that I’ve pretty much abandoned because for whatever reason the author took an extraordinary amount of time between a couple of the books and I just lost interest. I’m not mad or upset with the author. Things happen, that’s life but reality is I lost interest whatever the reason and I refuse to read more just to appease somebody else’s book OCD. I also think that whether or not I have read any of the subsequent books I have the right to criticize the one’s I’ve read if there was something about them that I didn’t like. Lastly, if an author started out writing a series, I don’t think they are obligated to maintain each book as a stand alone either, just as long as there is some movement in the overall plot. Chances are if I read a couple of books and feel like I’m going no where I’m going to abandon the series, I’ve read books that after a couple hundred pages I’m chomping at the bit because I feel like I’m spinning my gears, so there’s no way I’m going to read book after book and do that. I don’t have that kind of patience. But maybe that’s just me.

    1. Nemo

      I definitely think people should be reading for THEMSELVES and not allow other readers to badger them into continuing on a series that isn’t working for them. Sometimes other readers forget that reading is so subjective. I think your attitude is great!

  8. Miranda @ Tempest Books

    I definitely don’t have a problem abandoning a series after the first book. And I agree with you that, while it’s okay to have a few unraveled threads, it’s not okay to be totally lost and confused and needing to pick up the second book in order to understand what the hell is going on. The problem that I have is abandoning a series after I read and liked the first book, if I didn’t like the second (or possibly third) book. I’m admittedly a series completionist at heart. I have a hard time not finishing a series if I read the first book and wanted to continue on. At that point, I’m invested and I’m “in” the series. There’s no giving up at that point! I know it’s dumb, but I just can’t force myself to do it. I NEED to finish the series to cross it off my list. And I don’t want to have wasted my time reading two whole books out of a trilogy or series if I’m not even going to finish it (which I realize is so stupid, because technically I’m wasting more time by reading a series I’m not interested in). So…yeah…I totally agree with you about letting go after one book, but I definitely do have a problem after reading more than one.

    1. Nemo

      It’s not dumb at all to be invested – it’s what the publishers are hoping for! They WANT you to be invested. I used to want to finish every series, but now I have so much to read that I often don’t get past the first book of even series I WANT to continue. Normally I feel invested if I’ve read the second book, but I am making sure I’m so much pickier now – there’s so much literature out there I can’t read it all.

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