I’ve noticed a trend amongst some novels — the return of the serial novel. Back in Charles Dickens’s day, serial stories were the norm, with chapters published weekly or monthly in newspapers and magazines. Then, not so much. Sure, they still existed but they’d lost popularity.
And now it seems like every time I turn around, I’m faced with another serial. And, yes, I realize that sounds negative. Well, I’ll say it. I’m not a fan. I like to read a book all at once, to stuff it in my face like a hot Krispy Kreme donut(s. No, I can’t eat just one). I do not like being made to wait.
“But, hold on,” you say. “You read series all the time.”
True. I do. And I get irritated with cliffhangers in those, too. The series that I stick with are those that, while they might have an overarching story arc that covers several stories, have a complete story in each book.
I recently read a novel that I was enjoying (Bound by Lorelei James) but, as I approached the end of the book…I knew the story it wasn’t going to end. In fact, I realized it was going to stop at a crucial point and leave me hanging. I kept reading because at that point, I didn’t want to DNF it but I was highly frustrated at being left hanging.
Going in, I had no idea this was a serial. Yes, it was a romance. Yes, it said it was part of a series but it did not say that it was going to end halfway through the book and make me wait another month and a half before I could finish the story. I do know what we say about assumptions but, with it being a romance, I assumed there would be a happy ending at the end and that the series would continue with another set of characters. Seems logical, right?
Another example of this serial series thing is Maya Rodale’s Bad Boys and Wallflowers, which contains historical romances (complete stories with HEA’s. Yay.) interspersed with a contemporary serial, each part of which is coming out between the historicals. A bit frustrating (especially since I didn’t realize the contemporaries were serials until I finished the first one and found out the hard way. Still, I’m hooked and want to read them all. Now.) but they’re labeled…sort of. Actually, I thought the .5 stories were complete novellas, until I finished #1.5 (yes, I was frustrated but, at the same time, caught like a fish on a hook. I’m guessing that was the intention. Tricksy. And dastardly.).
The Wicked Wallflower (Bad Boys and Wallflowers #1)
The Bad Boy Billionaire’s Wicked Arrangement (Bad Boys and Wallflowers #1.5)
Wallflower Gone Wild (Bad Boys and Wallflowers #2)
The Bad Boy Billionaire’s Girl Gone Wild (Bad Boys and Wallflowers #2.5)
and so on.
On the other hand, there are serials who’ve done it right. The online publisher Collioquy publishes serials and promotes them as such (plus, many of them are interactive, choose-your-own-adventure stories. Very cool.). Kresley Cole just finished her first serial, The Professional, a three-part serial that was marked and promoted as a three-part story. Just as it should be. The three parts were also released in quick succession: December 16, January 6 and January 20. Enough for a tease but not enough time to really forget about what’s happening in the overall story. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you can wait until they’re all out and read them at once. As it should be.
Have you read any serials? Thoughts?
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