Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Do you start a series with a book in the middle?

Reading with coffee and cookies
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When was the last time you came across a book you liked the sound or look of only to discover it was a book in the middle of a series? Possibly the third or fourth book, or even further on, the tenth or twentieth book in the series?

Do you put the book aside and not read it?

Do you put the book aside and start the series from the beginning?

Or do you just read the book anyway and see where you go from there?

And what if it's a spin-off series? Do you read the previous series first?

For me, I'm pretty OCD so I like to start a series from the beginning. But I've come to learn that it's not always practical. Why? Because with a book blog, I'm constantly time challenged when it comes to my reading and it's simply not practical or feasible to start a series from the beginning every time I encounter a book that seems interesting and I want to read.

Forbidden by Jacquelyn Frank  Forever by Jacquelyn Frank  Forged by Jacquelyn Frank  

I'm learning to loosen my standards a little bit, although that has not always been the case. A few years ago, I came across a book about a gargoyle hero called Forged by Jacquelyn Frank. It was the fourth book in the World of Nightwalkers series and soon to be released. Because I was still a little (okay, a lot) OCD back then, I went back and started the series from the beginning. I'm glad I did because with this series, the stories built on one another. While there's a little recap and world building in each subsequent book, there was also an overarching storyline of the battle between good and evil taking place.Having read the series from the beginning and reflecting back, I think I would have been totally lost reading the series from the fourth book on. I'd have missed all the previous battles that were going on and I'd be wondering who all the various characters were that were frequently mentioned in the current book.

Slave To Sensation by Nalini Singh  Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh  Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

Another series I think you'd be hard pressed to follow if you started in the middle is the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. There's also an overarching storyline in this series and each one builds on the previous book. While the build is a little subtler in the earlier books, it does reach a climax at a later point. I think a person coming into the series at the tenth book onwards would have felt very lost as to what was going on. Thing happen in the previous books that are mentioned briefly in later books. This would make you fell a bit lost and also a bit spoilery because you'd find out some things you probably wouldn't have wanted to know about had you not read that book.

That said, recently, I'm learning to put aside my prejudices about needing to start a book at the beginning of the series because as I said, I'm time poor. With that, I have read two books from two different series where I started at book three. It's purely coincidental that they were both the third book in the series. Fortunately, book three is not so far into the series where things have developed too much ... sort of.

Claimed By The Warrior by Joss Wood  His Toughest Call by Joss Wood  In The Line Of Fire by Joss Wood

The first one is the Pytheon Security series by Joss Wood. This is a romantic suspense series and there seems to be an overarching bad guy called The Recruiter whom they are trying to catch. Things happen to the couples in the first two books that are briefly mentioned in the third book I read. Honestly, I wasn't sure if they were spoilery or not. Maybe they were, but I made an effort to skim those parts so I wouldn't feel like I knew too much to not want to go back and read the earlier books. But the big thing you'd ask is, did I feel lost coming in at the third book? Not really. I knew while reading that there was reference to previous characters and previous events briefly, but I felt I was able to keep going without those things affecting me or my reading experience. I thought the story stood well on its own. It even made me want to go back and read the previous books, if I ever find the time.

Ready Set Rogue by Manda Collins  Duke With Benefits by Manda Collins  Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

The second is the Studies in Scandal series by Manda Collins. This is a historical Regency romance featuring four bluestocking heiresses who get involved in intrigues they need to solve with the help of their hero. Again, there was mention of some past events and feature the characters from the previous books - even more heavily than in the Pytheon Security series. Did I feel affected by it? No. Maybe I am learning to overlook the mentions of events from previous books or simply accepting of them. Did I feel lost? No, the action and storyline was self-contained and stood on its own. It was its own new mystery for the couple to solve. I knew the other characters featured in the previous stories and had found their own happy ending. I didn't feel that I needed to go back to read the previous books to learn more backstory, but I'm intrigued enough and like Ms Collins' writing enough that I will eventually go back and read the previous books.

Magic In The Wind by Christine Feehan  Water Bound by Christine Feehan  Judgment Road by Christine Feehan

Finally, the new Torpedo Ink series by Christine Feehan. It's a new series. But I'm told it's also a spin-off of two other series - Sea Haven / Drake Sisters and Sea Haven / Sisters of the Heart. My friend Bambi tells me she tried a book from one of the previous series and felt lost because she hadn't read the earlier series from which the one she read was a spin-off of. But I'm thinking after my experience with the two previous books that maybe I'm getting pretty good at extrapolating backstory and character history without reading earlier works. Maybe I'm getting better at simply filling in the blanks or not minding if I don't know a particular detail. Anyway, the book sounded intriguing and I want to take my chances. Plus I've never read Ms Feehan and I've heard good things. She's a popular author. And of course, I've also read the World of Nightwalker series by Jacquelyn Frank before reading her earlier Nightwalker series and didn't feel lost in the world she built there, so I'm hoping I'd cope.

Naked In Death by J D Robb Glory In Death by J D Robb  Immortal In Death by J D Robb

One last thing. Do you know which series I think you can probably hop into without much trouble? The J D Robb Eve Dallas / In Death series. Why? Because the two main characters, Eve and Roarke feature in all the books and each book focuses on a new crime they need to solve. Yes, there are secondary characters that have developed over the course of the series, and yes, there is also the development of Eve and Roarke's relationship, but at the crux of it, it's a mystery series, and each crime is different. Of course, if you think I'm wrong, please tell me why.

Anyway, that's it from me and my musings about whether to start a series in the middle or start a spin-off series. Most of this is because I'm time poor reading-wise and there are books that I want to read without the overhead of reading many of the earlier books in the series. If I feel lost, I will go read a review or the blurb of the earlier books to see if I can find some information to fill in a few blanks (without being too spoilery) to help me along the way. LOL. This is me relaxing a bit when it comes to how OCD I am about reading. I'm calling it personal growth. :-p

So tell me, what about you? Do you always start a series at the beginning or are you willing to jump in willy-nilly?

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  1. Hi Deanna

    I am a little like you as well I do love to start a series from book 1 but these days that is almost impossible for me and I go with the flow and read the book that I have and so far for the most part I have not been disappointed I have gone and bought the first books in the series meaning to read them one day but of course that still hasn't happened but I agree there are some in a series that I wouldn't start because of the overlapping story so many fabulous books never enough time :)

    Have Fun


    1. Oh yeah, my initial instinct is still always to start at the beginning of a series but I'm trying to get past that. There are too many good books out that I'm missing on if I always wait till I have time to start at the first book.