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!