I read The Raven King this summer after procrastinating finishing the series for almost a year. Prior to finishing the Raven Boys series, I can’t remember the last time I finished a series.
I forced myself to hunt through GoodReads and figure out how many series I am in the middle of. Twenty-five. I have 25 series in progress.
The earliest adventure I started, The Chronicles of Narnia, began in elementary school. I’ve been looking for the chronological bookset for months but decided I should wait until we moved. I remember I stopped reading the series as a child because I learned what the story was really about – God, faith, and specifically a deep love affair with Christianity. At the time, I was thrashing through an anti-religion phase and I swore to stay away from C.S. Lewis for good. Starting The Chronicles of Narnia pushed me into the arms of the His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman, which remains one of my favourite series to date. It’s nagged at me that while I’ve found faith, I haven’t returned to the Chronicles of Narnia.
Knowing the unfinished total of series was so high, I stopped to ask why.
Reflecting, I realized that I do this with both books and television series. Knowing that something is a series means that I’ll get to follow interesting character arcs and build a beautiful, fleshed out world in my mind. It means that a story is going to have twists and turns, complexity. Reading Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice is a prime example of this. As the series progresses, the chapters are told from an increasing number of protagonists and the story is gaining complexity. With Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series, rather than the story gaining complexity, we’re witnessing two leading characters growing affections for each other in a meaningful, realistic and believable way – while solving murders, we see a love story start to unfold. Series exemplify the magic of reading.
And sometimes they suck. As a lover of Rowling’s Harry Potter series, I am always on the hunt for books that will feel as good as HP does. The Magicians is recommended as HP for adults and it is probably one of the most disappointing books I’ve read. Perhaps I wouldn’t have disliked it so much if it wasn’t pitched as an adult HP. Then there’s the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, which I was so excited to read as a lover of True Blood. I started reading the first book in the series in January, then put it down until it upset me so much that it wasn’t finished that I pushed through in November. The lead narrator is Sookie, of course, but she reads so much better on television, when you don’t have to be in her head all the time.
With the Raven Boys series, I didn’t want my access to the story to end, the door to be closed. If we’re being honest, I was worried the ending wouldn’t be as magical as the rest of the series. The Battlestar Galactica of endings, so to speak.
And last, but not least, the meandering isn’t always worth it. Frances of Nonsuch Book recommended the Maisie Dobbs series years ago. They feature a female detective in first world-war London, leading her own investigative agency. While I love the series – for the strong female lead, the varied supporting cast – I feel some of the books in the series were superfluous to the story, filler.
I read when the mood for something strikes rather than out of obligation or a sense of completionism. I don’t know if or when the list of unfinished series will get shorter. It’s astounding that it has gotten so long and yet, it means that I have possibilities – twenty five worlds I can access when I feel the pull.
For fun, this is my full unfinished list:
- Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud
- Started in 2003, on book 2/3
- A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
- Started in 2014, on book 5/7
- Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton
- Started in 2005, on book 13/26
- Merry Gentry by Laurell K. Hamilton
- Started in 2005, on book 5/9
- Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
- Started in 2008, on book 2/3
- The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
- Started in 2009, on book 6/6
- Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
- Started in 2017, on book 2/3
- Cormoran Strike by Robert Galbraith
- Started in 2013, on book 3/4
- Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab
- Started in 2015, on book 2/3
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Started in 2015, on book 3/3
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman
- Started in 2015, on book 2/3
- Earthseed by Octavia E. Butler
- Started in 2017, on book 2/2
- Aimee Leduc Investigations by Cara Black
- Started in 2013, on book 2/17
- Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Carey
- Started in 2011, on book 9/14
- The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
- Started in 2008, on book 2/10
- Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott
- Started in 2004, on book 3/7
- In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
- Started in 2013, on book 2/7
- Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French
- Started in 2009, on book 2/6
- Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- Started in 2000, on book 2/7
- The Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin
- Started in 2017, on book 3/3
- Miriam Black by Chuck Wendig
- Started in 2014, on book 2/6
- The Dark Tower by Stephen King
- Started in 2013, on book 2/8
- The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
- Started in 2012, on book 3/3
- Joe Pitt by Charlie Huston
- Started in 2007, on book 2/5
- Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris
- Started in 2007, on book 2/13