It’s Not Me — It’s You

Reflections from Jen

In any given year, I read somewhere between 350 and 400 books.  And every so often, I find a stand-alone that really rocks my world. But 9 times out of 10, the stories I love most are part of a series.  Over time, a series allows you to invest in characters. You learn their quirks and nuances.  You grow to love them, hate them, or lust after them… but whatever the emotion, they become yours.

I look forward to new installments in my favorite series like Star Trek fans count down the days to their conventions.  Like gadget-nerds camp out the night before an Apple product goes on sale.  Or like Harry Potter fans dress up for a movie premiere.  Hell, I reserved a vacation request months ago for the release of Lover At Last.

Unfortunately, every so often, one of my beloved series lets me down.   I’m not just talking about the random Phury book that stands out as an anomaly to an otherwise fabulous series.  I’m talking about multiple books that just make you ask yourself why the hell you just spent 10-bucks.  Books that make you decide once and for all to break up with a once beloved series.

I’ve got a few I’ve already said goodbye to, and others on a watch list.

Anita Blake.  This is kind of THE series that is almost everyone has asked at least once… what the hell happened here?  Granted, not everyone liked the series to start with and not everyone loathes it now, but no one can dispute that the Anita books of today are nothing like the first nine that came out.  It’s my understanding that LKH thinks that people who complain about the change in her books are uptight about sex or something to that effect, but… um… I really like reading about sex in books. A lot.  So if that’s not the issue, what is it?

It would be easy to say that my problem is that Anita has become a whore, but it’s not that simple.  My problem is that the books have changed on a fundamental level.  They started as urban fantasy with no sex in them at all. Anita didn’t believe in sex outside of marriage.  They then morphed into urban fantasy with a little sex, in the context of a love triangle. — I was still down with that. Anita still struggled with her values and her real feelings for two very different men.  Whether you liked Richard (my favorite) or Jean Claude, most people could see the attraction on either side of the coin.

Then came Narcissus in Chains and the books became erotica.  Granted, they are erotica with paranormal elements, but you can’t call a series “urban fantasy” when the main character has sex with 10 or more people in the book.  Orgies, BDSM, m/m, exhibitionism, you name it, Anita does it.   Or one of her harem does it.  And I kept reading for a long time, thinking “maybe it will change back.” “Maybe Hamilton will fix what she did to Richard.” “Maybe…” Hell, I don’t know.  But then, Anita adopted a 17 year-old into her sex family. And there was a line in the book about how they’d have sex and he’d want to cuddle before doing his homework or something, and suddenly, I was done.  I haven’t looked back.

Kitty Norville.  I really, really enjoyed the early books in this series.  If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Kitty is a werewolf DJ, trying to find her way in the supernatural world.  For a time, every single book in the series wow’ed me. Carrie Vaughn gave me an unqualified oh-shit moment in every book. She killed people. She kidnapped people. She shocked me and excited me.  But what she also did was string me along with a love interest that never came to be.

From book one, we’re introduced to Cormac, a werewolf killer who has a simmering mutual attraction with Kitty.  The author teases us with it for book after book.  Even after Kitty gets into a serious relationship with another man, we’re reminded of what almost-was with Cormac. He’s still around. There is still longing.  I’ve started wishing the other guy dead, even though I like him. Finally, after book nine, I realized, it’s never gonna happen.  I feel seriously dicked around.  I’m done.

Chicagoland Vampires.  How I freaking loved this series in the beginning.  It was smart and funny and full of great action. I loved Merit and her friendship with Mallory. I loved her reluctance to be a vamp, how she finally came to love and defend Cadogen House.  And, of course, Ethan.  There was such a great push and pull with Ethan. The highs were so high and then the lows….  (**spoilers ahead**) When Ethan died, I was heartbroken. I cried and cried.  Then Ethan came back to life.. And while there was some WTF-ery there, I thought, “Finally! They will be together.”  Only, the excuses continued.  They got more and more flimsy. Until I got to a point where I just didn’t care anymore.  The new one came by mail and I gave it to my girlfriend to read for me.  She’ll be guest reviewing it for the blog.

On the cusp:

Dark Hunter.  The early books in this series rocked my world. Sherrilyn Kenyon does tortured heroes like nobody’s business.  Even when the catch phrases started to get a little predictable.. Even when all the heroines looked at their downtrodden heroes “like they mattered,” I still swooned.  Probably all the way through Acheron’s book.  (And Lord knows, that book put me through the wringer!)  Then, Kenyon started to go in a new direction. She introduced Thorn and the Hellchasers… she got into Jaden and Azura and Noir.  And I’ll admit, I had a hard time following along. But I figured that was the next phase of the story… Then she started pulling in Native American mythology and sprinkling in some of the old characters and the Dream Hunters… with a pinch of the Hellchasers. And frankly, I’m not sure what the hell is going on anymore.

I liked Seth’s book. It was kind of a throwback to the familiar favorites.  Plus, Styxx is coming, and it’s taking us back into the Acheron world.  I will not miss that, folks.  But where will she go after that?  I’m a little concerned.  The series seems to have lost focus.  One more pantheon comes in, and I think I am out.

Carpathian/ Dark series.  Yes, I still read these. Don’t judge me!! They are my guilty pleasure.  Though lately, the pleasure part is fading.  I love the over-the-top love scenes and super-alpha-alpha males.  I love all the interconnectedness of the Carpathians and the reunion books was fantabulous.  (Yes, spellcheck, that IS a word.)  But I started pulling away when we got into the de la Cruz men, none of whom I liked.  Once we got to Zacharias, though, it went to a bad place.  He was such a dick. He abused his heroine. It was too much.  And we’ve traveled so far away from the characters I love that I feel disconnected.  Feehan needs to get us back to the Carpathian mountains.  She needs to give us that Skylar and Dimitri story.  Or maybe I need to quit reading.

So what about you guys? What series have you broken up with? What killed them for you?

Still in love with some of the series above?  What makes you keep reading?

Share your thoughts, then visit Rachel at Parajunkee and Jennifer at the Book Nympho to see their picks!

Comments

  1. Anita of course for all the reasons you listed.

    I’m on the fence about dropping CV. House Rules will be the breaking point for me. If I enjoy it I’ll keep on, if not it will be my last book in the series.

  2. Totally agree with you about Merit. I read the last book but still on fence with reading onward . I can’t take the push pull from Ethan . I think I may have run my course with it.

  3. You got further than I did in the Anita Blake series. I was done after book 1.

  4. I’m on the verge of breaking up with CV, but I really don’t want to. I have high hopes for House Rules. Dark Hunters is a series I broke up after Retribution was a dnf for me. That was a painful break up!!! Another series I just lost interest in for some reason was the Outlander series by Diana Gabalon (whose last name I always misspell) I devoured the first four books, and own them all, but haven’t ever been able to make it through book 5.

  5. I’ve broken up with Sherrilyn Kenyon for exactly those reasons! Also Donna Grant’s books-her Dark Sword series, and Christine Warren’s Others series. I think she jumped the shark several books ago.

  6. I’m still waiting on Skylar’s story from the Carpathian/ Dark series. It might be the one story that will get me back to reading this series again. I stopped around the time she got into panthers and leopards … and yes … the de la Cruz men are just not my cup of tea.

  7. You’ve named every series I’ve given up on, for the same reasons! I just stopped LKH’s books around number 10, though. Once I saw the reviews I realized I didn’t want to get into all the WTFery. I haven’t read the last two Chicago Vampire books and don’t have plans to.

  8. Gawd it only took me one book into Christine Feehan to go — Nope — *shivers* those are terrible. I see we all are Anita Blake fans — and I haven’t gotten far enough in Kitty’s world to break up with her. I think I’ve only read the first book. Great list.

  9. I’m on the cusp with the Dark Hunter series too, in fact, I didn’t read the last and likely won’t. As to Feehan, I’m getting that way with her Ghostwalker series which I like. I think for me series derail when authors run out of characters from the core group and attempt to bring in new characters to keep the series alive. It has a forced feeling to it if they don’t put enough effort into truly growing the world. I think Singh’s Psy-Changeling series is an example of how this should be done the right way (though the newest, Tangle of Need was probably my least favorite of series.)

    • I LOVE Psy-Changeling!! I only have Kiss of Snow and Tangle of Need left to read before I am caught up. (I only started the series a few weeks ago.)

      I have read Feehan’s Ghostwalker books… and I think I am one behind… loved the twins’ books!

  10. I still like the Dark Hunter series – even if sometimes it seems like authors should stop a series before they have actually started writing a new series in the same universe…

    I agree wholeheartedly about Chicagoland. I am on the fence – didn’t like the last few books at all, but I will read the next one – even if it’s not on pre-order; I stopped that a while ago.

    I’ve only read the very first Anita Blake, so I can’t really comment – but the three of you all have it listed, just as you all have listed Chicagoland (which I agree with) so we’ll see if I continue that series.

    • That’s what it feels like… she’s writing a new series in the same universe, but throws in one or two familiar characters in each book to make it feel somewhat connected.

    • Yes, and if you want a new series in the same universe, The Chronicles of Nick series is actually good. Not ‘I fell in love and can’t live without it’ good, but still enjoyable.

      I think sometimes our favorite authors become a little blinded by their success when it comes to a series, so they continue to write more than the books they had first planned on.

  11. Totally agree with you on the DH books. Styxx is my last hope, if it’s like the last 2, I’m done.

  12. I’m on the cusp for CV. I said that with the last book and I’m still unsure. I think I will give it one more chance…
    I am also pretty sure I’m done with Keri Arthur’s Dark Angels. It’s not a long running series yet but 4 books have come out and hardly anything has been done with the main plot in over 2 books. Plus chick keeps getting kidnapped. Really!? Every book!? So unless someone reviews it and tells me it’s the best book ever, I won’t be going on.
    Another series I stopped caring about was Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy. Back when I was all about YA I read and adored the first three books. Then I waited for the next ones and read them ON release day. By the time the final book came out, I stopped caring and never read it. It’s sitting in my basement. I can’t say why I fell away from that series but I just really couldn’t bring myself to care how the series ended.

    • I read KA’s Riley Jensen books and always meant to pick up the spinoffs, but never did. Now I am in even less of a hurry.

      I never did read any of the VA books, but you know how I feel about YA as a rule.

  13. It’s really difficult for me not to like a book, so I rarely “divorce” a series, in reality for that to happen the author have to do some really stupid thing like kill the main love interest and not bring him/her back

    Kitty Norville – I still love that series but I have to say that I’m starting to get a little ticked off with the fact that EVERY DAMN BOOK we are reminded that she could have something with Cormac. My God that’s done, it’s the past, forget about it woman, you have Ben and I LOVE Ben so I don’t want them to break up. I never felt that connection between her and Cormac.
    The other thing is that after 10 books its getting kind of boring the fact that Kitty can’t fight. Really, they always get lucky and someone really powerful appear and save them. I don’t understand why some of the really powerful vampires in this series fear her, the only thing Kitty can do really well is talk and they can kill her easily enough so I think it’s time for Kitty start some karate or kung-fu lessons.

    As for CV and Night Huntress I still love those worlds, sometimes I don’t read the book when they come out – both of them after the 4th book – I let a lot of time pass since I read the last book to read the next so when I read the “new” book(s) I’m really glad/happy to be back to that world

    Jane Yellowrock – I’m on the fence with that one, I loved the first three books but decided to wait to read the 4th book, I went to read some reviews to see if Jane’s romantic life was resolved, when I read that it was not I also decided to wait and read reviews of the 5th book to see if FINALLY she was going to chose someone and when I read that it also didn’t happen in the 5th book, really I started to get pissed off. I like romance in my books, it doesn’t need to be there ALL the time but I like to know that my main character has a significant other and in Jane’s books this is not what happens.
    Really it’s getting ridiculous, every book instead of her resolving who she REALLY WANTS TO BE WITH, more guys appears who are interested in her, my God its baffling. I don’t really care if she wants to go out with all the guys just made up your mind and get all that boring bloody thing out of the way, if that doesn’t happen soon I dropping this series.

    Black Wings by Christina Henry – This is the only series I’ve really dropped. *SPOILERS AHEAD* At the beggining I really liked the series then book 3 came and right at the end of the book the author goes and kill off the main love interest. I was stunned but okay maybe she will do like Chloe Neill and bring him back, NOT. When the 4th book came and she didn’t bring him back I was MAD, not just that she found out that she is pregnant (the guy who died is the father), her boss who se really found a pain in the as* wants to get together and be the father of her child, and the fiancee that she HATED and found DISGUSTING start to look really appealing, WTF man that author is totally crazy I felt like I was being hit with a WTF stick all through book 4.
    And like that wasn’t all I listened to an interview she gave soon after the 4th book came out and when asked why she killed the main love interest she said that she felt she had to do that to grow as an author – Huh??! WTF is that? After that I was really done with the series and I’m never reading anything by this author – sorry for the rant but I was really mad with all she did lol

    • First of all, thanks for such a great and thoughtful comment!

      I am so glad I never tried the Black Wings books. Having an author kill off a main love interest is like a knife in the gut.

      And your complaints about Jane Yellowrock are right on the money. I used to want her with Rick, but after he… did what he did, now I don’t. Part of me wants her to get with Bruiser, but he’s got his own issues. (*sigh*) And it feels like we never make any headway on any of it.

      With Kitty, maybe I could have let the Cormac thing go if she had not continued reminding us of it, you know??

  14. I’ve not read any of those authors much less the series but I felt my comment was warranted based on the entire second paragraph — you had me at Apple Jen. I laughed so hard I made a mess on him computer screen ;-)

  15. I don’t usually divorce series intentionally, but if it’s a year or more between books, I tend to just lose interest and forget all of my earlier enthusiasm. Another thing that totally turns me off is if the series jumps to hardback, because the price is always higher and I just refuse to pay it. The only author I would pay for in hardback is Ilona Andrews. I heard that even though their publishers wants to put the next Kate Daniels book out in hardback, they’ve been refusing (Go Ilona and Gordon!!!) so hopefully I won’t actually be put to the test on that one.

  16. I’ve actually never read any of these series and I’ve not actually divorced a series yet. But I have noticed a difference in the latter Sookie Stackhouse books. There are some series that I wonder just how much longer they can go before they stagnate particularly those where the love interest is settled, but I haven’t reached a point where I don’t want to read them.

    Fun discussion!

  17. I’m with you 100% on the Chicagoland Vampires! I had trouble after Hard Bitten & when Ethan came back, I had the same thought: FINALLY! But then they weren’t. I don’t know if I’ll be reading Biting Cold as soon as it comes out because even though I still love the characters & the world, I’m so disappointed in them.

    As for Kenyon’s DH series, I think that you said it best: The series seems to have lost focus. One more pantheon comes in, and I think I am out. That pretty much sums it up for me as well. Still, I admire that she was 20 books strong before she started the confusion! I just feel like the whole Greek pantheon drama was just building up & getting dramatic after Stryker’s book…then, nothing. *sigh*

  18. Wow Jen I totally get what you are saying about each of those series. What you wrote about Anita was dead on. I used to looooooooove that series and now it is just wrong, because Anita is fundamentally a different person and the storyies in each book now just suck. I tried Kitty and the Carpathians and just never could see what everyone loved about them. And Chicagoland I just gave up two books ago. Thanks for writing that post.

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