Today, I want to discuss whether it’s fair to judge characters based solely on the first book in a series. Some argue that characters can undergo significant transformations over the course of a series, while others believe that the first book should stand on its own merit. Let’s explore both sides of the coin and delve into the nuances of forming opinions within the world of literature.
The Series Redemption Arc Dilemma
It’s not uncommon to come across characters in the first book of a series who start off as unlikable, even downright terrible, only to undergo a transformative redemption arc that turns them into beloved fan favourites. This phenomenon often leads to the debate about whether readers should withhold judgment until they’ve completed the entire series. After all, what may appear to be a one-dimensional villain could evolve into a multidimensional hero as the story progresses.
The Complete Story vs. The First Book
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the argument that the first book in a series should be considered a complete story in itself. Just as a standalone novel introduces readers to a captivating world and characters, the opening instalment of a series should offer a satisfying experience on its own. Some readers believe that they shouldn’t be required to invest in an entire series to form an opinion about the characters. As readers, we sometimes encounter characters who undergo dramatic changes, leaving us wondering whether the transformation was a genuine evolution or a retroactive continuity (retcon) by the author. This raises questions about the author’s intentions and whether the change was planned from the start or merely a response to reader feedback later. Considering this, it’s not unreasonable for readers to reflect on the authenticity of character development and its alignment with the story’s arc.
It’s worth noting that a reader’s impression of a character’s actions in the initial instalment can be valid and insightful, even if that character undergoes a significant transformation later on. After all, the first book serves as an introduction to the characters and world, and it’s natural for readers to form opinions based on the presented material.
Finding a Balanced Perspective
In the end, the debate about judging characters and series based on the first book is a matter of personal preference. While some readers prefer to reserve final judgment until a series concludes, others believe that each book should be capable of standing alone. The beauty of literature lies in its subjectivity, allowing readers to engage with stories in ways that resonate with them.