When I browse through upcoming reads on goodreads, I kind of internally flinch away when I see MARVELOUS INTRIGUING TITLE (#1). More often then not, I'm noticing, this (#1) intrudes subtly but insistently upon my subconscious, radiating do-not-read vibes. I guess that (#1) scares me away.
It's not that I'm against series, particularly. How can you be against books? So that's not it, it can't be it. I love the Harry Potter series. I love Garth Nix's Seventh Tower Series. I can do it, I can read through seven books about one character that take years and years to come out. I can stick by a series.
It's just, I sort of resent the occasions where, by picking up one book, you've signed yourself unknowingly over to having to pick up the next one or two or five, in order to get a satisfying conclusion.
I sort of resent reading a very strong first book that would be pretty much great if it didn't have a cop-out, scrambled together ending that inserts a ready-made conflict solely so the BRAVE MAIN CHARACTER can embark on another adventure.
I sort of resent reading a filler second book that only leads to a third book that's not even as good as the first one.
I guess I can deal with the series trend when the first book has a satisfying, fulfilling conclusion, when it can be read as a standalone. And yet, I'm human, I'm a reader. I'm far from invulnerable to that pang that hits you when you see the next book out in the bookstore, or it's shiny new cover of shininess, or that main character you loved gracing the next new book with her visage of awesome.
Much too often, in the same manner I'm drawn inevitably to a box of unwrapped and tantalizing chocolate*, I can't resist. I pick up the next book, shelling over that $18, and float home wrapped up in a cocoon of excited expectancy. But more often than not, I'm in for a few hours of frustration.
I'm not inherently opposed to spending another book's time with the same character. I don't have problems with the idea of a continuing story. It's just, too often, that next book isn't worth it. It sort of ruins the memory of that first book in my mind, colliding and enmeshing with it, until I can't separate the two reading experiences.
I guess I get too attached. From the HUNGER GAMES trilogy to WHERE SHE WENT (sequel to IF I STAY) to THE WAKE TRILOGY I've felt that disappointment. And then I wonder, why?
Why can't I just leave it at one? Why can't the author just leave it at one?
So now, I'm very hesitant to pick up any book that has (#1) tacked on to its title. I know it's judgmental and horrible of me in a way, but I feel like it's the only way I can save myself from disappointment. I dislike feeling disappointed, after being left to wait a year or two before the cliffhanger ending is resolved. I dislike feeling like the characters have morphed into unpleasant caricatures of themselves, dislike feeling like the true ending (the last book in the series) didn't quite live up to the beginning, the first book.
I understand the logistics behind the abundance of YA series, the money behind it and why publishers love it so much. And some stories are legitimate in that they're too big to tell in one book, like LORD OF THE RINGS. This series epidemic is by no means a YA-only occurrence; I feel torn to shreds by George R.R. Martin's devilish, scheming mind as he cavorts away from any sort of resolution, leaving countless cliffhangers in his A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series.**
It's just, this feeling as a reader--that you can't trust books because of that fateful (#1); that you have to be cautious; that you must not pick up the second or the third unless you want you reading soul to be crushed into let-down smithereens--isn't a nice one to have. It makes me a little sad, and most of all, so weary.
*Or cookies. I can't resist those either.
**Don't get me wrong. I love A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, but those last two books? A bit of a let down. However, it's definitely a case of a story too big for one book.