I have been a fan of series books since my earliest years, when reading Encyclopedia Brown and the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved the characters and wanted to join them for yet another adventure. I trusted them — that is, I realized as I got older, I trusted the writers and editors who brought me those characters and stories.
There are some well-known and very popular series on the bookshelves today, and I have sampled at least a few of them: Harry Potter, Gemma Doyle trilogy, Twilight series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Magic Treehouse, Dresden Files, Gossip Girls, American Girls, Spiderwick .... each with its own following.
I, lately, have found myself ensnared by a couple of series: Stephanie Plum and the Lytton trilogy.
I met Stephanie Plum in the emergency room of the busiest hospital in my region. It was in the wee hours of a Thursday, Medivac helicopters were bringing in the terribly injured and it looked like it would be a long night for David and me. Cindy dropped David and me off, and Alicia returned a while later in her own car and with a book in hand: Fearless Fourteen, a kind gesture from Cindy, who was rarely wrong about a good leisure book. Plus, when sitting with my foot elevated in a wheelchair facing "The Fugitive" on a snowy and tinny-sounding television, Fourteen looked better and better. Then, as David fetched cake and took a nap, and I battled to stay awake, I cracked open the book.
And was transported.
As you can tell from my review, I found it delightful. I didn't realize, however, that it was part of a series until Carole mentioned it later. ("A Stephanie Plum novel" meant nothing at 5 am that day, nor in the exhausting, trying, hazy days following.) During my convalescence, Carole brought me the first four Stepanie Plum novels, and I began anew.
So far, I've read the first six, and I will start Seven Up after I next see Carole. (She's my Plum dealer.) The characters are feisty and memorable, and rumor has it that some of my favorites will make appearances in books I have yet to read. I can't wait.
Another series in which I have found myself hip-deep is the Lytton trilogy. I had read the first book, No Angel, five years ago and was totally absorbed — and was thrilled when I learned Penny Vincenzi had written two other books. Carole, thankfully, had read all three, so as I hit different points in the story, I would call her. With no preamble. "This is Carole" would be greeted with, "Okay, Celia has just...." or "She's not leaving! Still! What is she thinking!?" Sometimes I would answer the phone with, "Hey, Carole, I'm at...." (Thank you, Caller-ID!)
It's a hefty trilogy, and not a quick read — which is good because it's too good to get through quickly. (I think the first book is nearly 700 pages, so it's not a quick or light anything.) I am about a third of the way through the final book, and I am afraid to pick it up. When I read during my convalescence, I had the luxury of napping and sleeping in. No such luck these days, so I have to pace myself — which is impossible with such a compelling book. Therefore, unless I plan to read until I hide the book in the other room and fall asleep, my eyes red-rimmed and scratchy, I have to approach with caution. I will have to see how Carole managed. It's too good a book to put down!
I foresee a few more series in my future: Spiderwick, which my friend Kelsey shared with me; the Gemma Doyle trilogy (reviewed by Carole and a favorite of her daughter); Twilight (because I wish to discuss it with my friend Corinne); Dresden Files (only because the television series is so enjoyable).
When I find the time, I will re-read a couple of my personal favorites:
- The Chronicles of Narnia, which holds a special spot in my heart for the week I enjoyed it, holed up in my room as I devoured each book, forsaking sleep and sun until the end; and
- Harry Potter, with thanks to Suzanne, for sharing the first book with me, as well as Carole and the kids, who managed to keep secrets until after I read each volume.
One warning: take a breather, no matter how beloved a series is. Don't risk Author Repeatitis! Chances are your series will not falter, but don't give it a chance to fail because of your own saturation. I remember my experiences with the original Dune trilogy and wince. Frank Herbert deserved better attention than a 19-year-old college student with time on her hands could give him.