Thursday, February 6, 2014

On Series Heartbreak

What do you when a series you once loved breaks your heart? 

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After loving the previous book(s) SO MUCH, what do you do when you wake up to the fact that nothing went as planned in the latest installment? The plot went off course, the characters aren't what you remember, or the story just never lived up to the hype you'd made of it. 

It's worse when you'd previously raved about the series and pushed it on friends. You just want to take it back and say, I'm sorry for convincing you to read this! For some reason you even feel a little bit personally responsible for the disappointment this book will bring on others. 

It's even harder when it seems like everyone else LOVED the direction the story has taken, but you are scratching your head in confusion. You feel sad about not understanding what happened. 

On the other hand, what if all your friends are exclaiming about how AMAZING a book is!! You're so excited to read it, so that you too can have the same reaction that they did. But when you finally get a chance to pick up the book for yourself, you end up having the opposite reaction from them. You wonder if you picked up a different version of the story from everyone else. Where did you go wrong?  

Do you wonder how you got to the place where you're heartbroken and confused over a book? 
How do you cope? 

Below are some tips that have helped me deal with series disappointment. 

Come to terms with how this happened in the first place.
1) I get emotionally involved in the books I read. I don't see this as a bad thing, but owning it can be hard when a book doesn't go as planned. It's even worse when the book is part of a series I had previously loved. However, it's impossible to like everything I read, or perfectly rule out all book disappointments ahead of time. Accepting this fact is a helpful first step in understanding where I went wrong with a book. 
2) My number one reason for series disappointment, especially, in final books, is the inclusion of a love triangle. That is why I'm going Love Triangle Free these days. 
3) I've noticed that series flaws I may have previously overlooked in the wake of hype or excitement about a story or love interest (ahem), often catch up to me by the final book. Sometimes it's clear that a series wasn't planned out well from the beginning and it eventually becomes impossible to see past that huge plot holes. Sometimes the author's lack of writing experience plays a part in this. 
4) It's important to realize that the author's vision is not my own. Their book wasn't written specifically for me. Perhaps an obvious statement but it can be a painful realization, especially when I start thinking about all the potential that wasn't realized (at least according to my perspective). 
5) I've come to the understanding that some publishers disappoint me more with series ends than others. One in particular, I don't trust any more and need to be very careful about starting new books they publish.   

How to cope once you've entered the mourning process.
1) Finding friends who will rage and overanalyze the book with you, can be incredibly cathartic. This has helped me the most when I find myself incredibly disappointed in a story.
2) Realize that grieving is a process and it takes time and stages to get through. However, it is a year after a few disappointing series ends, and I've still not reached the acceptance phase. 
3) Remember these are just characters. They aren't real, and the author didn't personally write this book to make you angry. I completely get feeling ownership over them, but sometimes you have to let it go. 
2) Realize when it's time to move on and stop torturing yourself over the book in question. I.e. sometimes you just have to stop talking about it. 
3) Follow up the bad book with a guaranteed good book.
6) Write your own alternate ending. 

Help me out here! 
How do you come to terms with a book that doesn't live up to expectations?
How do you cope with a series that has gone sour for you? 


  1. Mostly I eat a lot of cake. Then I scream into the book. And then I write a tweet with lots of exclamation marks.
    It's very cathartic :P

  2. It's most definitely helpful to find a like-minded person and give into a bit of a book rant. Nothin' wrong with that!

  3. It helps when you find a few friends that feel the same and let you send them sarcastic & angry texts or emails along the way. Friends make everything better. I have decided that I usually don't agree with the masses and I just have to come to terms with that fact.

  4. "1) Finding friends who will rage and overanalyze the book with you, can be incredibly cathartic. This has helped me the most when I find myself incredibly disappointed in a story."

    THIS. Yes. Nothing helps me more than finding a fellow book lover onto whom I can vent my rage and have them understand exactly why I'm so upset. Then I usually pick up an old favorite or a new book from an author who never disappoints.

    I've definitely experienced the type of book where everyone around me loved it and raved about it and then I picked it up and was all "am I reading a different version?" That's the worst feeling, but I don't dwell on it for too long, I just call it a loss and try something else.

    Also, I rely on fabulous blogger friends to tell me when they know of something awful happening in a book. What's so much fun about having friends that I've followed and who have followed me for years is we get to know each other's preferences, so I'll get emails or tweets going DO NOT READ THIS because it has cheating, or a character death, or something else they know I can't deal with, and even though I'm disappointed to learn about those things, it makes me so happy that they let me know ahead of time:)

  5. I'm so picky when I start a new series, so I've been able to avoid a disappointing ending. I'm sure my luck will run out eventually, especially since I'm going into some series-starters blind this year, or no one knows the outcome yet (like Angelfall).

  6. This basically happened to me with The Burning Sky. It's not like I didn't love the story, I did like it, I did like the characters, I did like the world, but I just didn't find myself picking it up after I put it down one night and two weeks passed, thee weeks, four weeks, three months. I still haven't picked it up. Jenny, you, Nick, more people (almost everyone) loved it, but not me. I don't hate it, but I don't know where's the magic. Perhaps I'll get to it in a year or so like I did with Cinder, because everyone loved that one as well, I read half way, put it down and never thought about it after last fall when I tried again and really liked it. I agree with the love triangle--sometimes everything else is good but the freaking triangle just keeps. getting. in. the. way. of. my. enjoyment. It's like GEEEEZ!!! JUST STOP ALREADY. "It's important to realize that the author's vision is not my own. Their book wasn't written specifically for me."--yes to this, though Veronica Roth said it well that after the book is published, it's not only author's anymore, it's the readers' as well and they have the right to be angry or upset or disappointed, because the story is theirs just as much as the authors no matter the vision the author had. Do you mean Harper? Nick hates Harper endings lol. I have found myself to be extremely disappointed by Flux's books for some reason. They don't sit well with me. I love ranting with Nick haha. She's just as emotional as me so it's fun to rant with her. I don't reach the acceptance phase quickly either :( Like the Bloodrose ending? I, as well as Aman, was extremely disappointed by that one and I'm still not over it, I don't know if I ever will be. I will never re-read that book. Never! I won't put myself through that pain and heartache. However, I try to understand the author and I try to understand why Cremer made the decision she did. It doesn't mean that I approve, but it's like.. I have better things to do with my life than still cry over that ending or be mad about it you know? I'm going to find another book or series to fangirl over and just try to put this behind me lol. It's like a bad relationship--the past keeps reminding itself on a few occasions, but you just want to forget about it and move on. LOL.

  7. I hate it when this happens. The good news is, I've become very "meh" about series in recent years. I used to feel compelled to finish one, no matter what. Now, if the first book doesn't wow me, I usually don't continue, and unless I'm extra extra curious, I don't feel bad about dropping a series at any point. Disappointed? Done.

    As far as "coping," my disappointment is usually tempered with a bit of anger--at the author for ruining a good thing, at myself for not reading the early reviews carefully enough, and at the characters for being such bucketheads. And usually, as soon as I've written my review and made a clear decision one way or the other on whether to continue the series, I can let it go and move on. I don't know if that helps? D:

  8. Does this apply to Downton Abbey too? ;) I just copy by coming up with my own, happy ending. In my head. ;)

  9. I need to print out this post and keep it next to me at all times or on my wall. THIS THIS THIS. It's so hard with series and I'm always nervous recommending, especially mid-series, and then I'm nervous for starting. And for ending. I'm just nervous all-around. For dealing with heartbreak, your suggestions are awesome. I am also an emotional eater ;) Haha! Or I go and rant or get it out of my sight.

  10. Lauren, as you know, I really didn't enjoy Clockwork Princess. It was such a massive disappointment for me, but I always try to find the positives when a series doesn't work out for me. It was the catalyst for me to decide to avoid love triangles completely and I also won't be picking up more of Clare's work. It just doesn't work for me anymore and that's important to recognize. I've read other not-so-stellar endings as well, but I almost always seek out friends to rant with, fanfiction to turn to, or just my own imagination to re-write the ending I want. I've yet to pick up Allegiant and I don't even have the motivation to do so after being apart from these characters for so long and, moreover, knowing that I will, definitely, dislike many aspects. I feel happier creating the ending I want in my mind for that series and at least I know I enjoyed the good while it lasted. Series endings are always hard but I think they're also a form of closure. It's done. No more disappointment after this shock gets over and on to find a series that actually delivers. (Or, like me, hide out with a TBR of stand-alones!)

  11. I think all of us have had this experience. It must sound crazy to non-book people, but it's hard not to be upset when you've invested years and hours in a story and then things just go wrong as far as you're concerned.
    I think your advice is great -- figure out what drives you absolutely insane and try to avoid that. But I think your blog hits the nail on the head -- 99% of the time when people are disappointed, a love triangle is to blame....
    You know you can vent to me anytime :) Jen @ YA Romantics

  12. I often take to Goodreads, and look for fellow reviewers who are feeling disappointed like me. It's always nice to find solace in the arms of strangers who share your emotions. If I can find a group of reviewers who felt similarly, I usually end up feeling much better about the crappy ending, because other people agree with me. And then I kind of pretend that things ended the way I wanted and forget that the badness ever happened!

  13. I'm a total wimp these days. I've been burned so bad that I tossed over 40 series.

    If I start one now, I make sure it's not a cliffhanger and I take each book as they come and treat it as a stand alone. I may or may not ever pick up the next books. It's kind of sad because I lost that excitement I used to have but it's better for my sanity.

    Triangles are a big no no for me. That eliminates about 80% of my series problems.

    As for coping - nothing beats a long ranty, raging email to someone who understands your pain.

    I'm also a fan of writing my own ending lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  14. Lately I sit back and watch for reviews of the last book in a series before I pick it up myself. I was so ticked off by Clockwork Princess that I just don't want to waste my time on a long read and then by upset. I for sure didn't read Allegiant, although my husband did and loved the series even with all that happened in the end. Go figure. We have a friend who read the series and she can't wrap her head around why I won't read the last book (she read and loved the whole series as well) and I told her I just know it wouldn't work for me and I don't want to feel the need to toss my Kindle out the window or at the author's head!

    I have to say, I'm all for stand alones, or companions at this point. I'm so sick of trilogies and waiting the years for the series to finish just to be disappointed by a crappy ending. Great post, Lauren! :)

  15. Oh, L. I KNOW. It sucks when this happen. SUCKS. It's why I won't read Allegiant or Requiem--two series that I really, really loved when they started. I'm glad you have a support group to rant to--and I'm glad I'm a member of said group--you help me too. And yes to writing your own ending! I think that's a fabulous idea--really Fanfiction has never souded so appealing :) And I agree with keertana above--it's done. Let's find that next great book (prefarabley triangle free) because you know it's out there :) xoxox

  16. Oh, Lauren. Your disappointment is so palpable, and I feel for you so much. We shared all those MOMENTS over BOUNDLESS and talked marathons about that book (oh, those days! I can't find the time these days, but I also haven't been as invested in a series emotionally on romantic level since Infernal Devices), but honestly sometimes all I want to do is hide. Hiiiiide until I can move onto the next book, because there's no amount of crying that will fix it. :(

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  17. I feel the same way, I get emotionally invested in these characters and then for it to end in a disappointing way is well...disappointing. To say the least. I can get angry too and wish I didn't know what happened. There actually haven't been many that I've been disappointed with and reading this post made me curious about which books made you sad/angry and why. Maybe post a spoiler discussion about them? Reading other people's thoughts (or rants) helps me out a lot. If I finish a book and am mad/angry/sad, whatever, I immediately go to Goodreads and try to find a discussion about it. Or if I know of another blogger who has just read it or is reading it, I'll e-mail them and say, e-mail me when you're done and we go back and forth, ranting. That helps a lot. Great post, but I'm really curious about which books!! :) ~Pam

  18. I deal with the disappointment by moving on to the next book. That's the only thing that helps me, and it really does lessen the pain of a disappointing ending. And I tell myself that endings are tricky and there will likely NEVER be an ending that satisfies *everyone*, so at least I'm not alone in my misery. I hate that you feel this awful. And I'd love to say that I'll join you in your challenge to stop reading books with love triangles, but sometimes you can't help it. They come out of nowhere. It's sad, but I'm even expecting one to crop up in TWC. :(

  19. I feel like I don't get series heartbreak a whole lot, like usually I just trust the author's vision. The only time I really get heartbreak is when an animal is killed off, especially if say it's a dog that has been trustworthy the whole book and then the stupid insane villain character kills off the dog whose thoughts we can read. Urgh. I am never getting over that.

    Or if it's a direwolf. That noise upsets me.

    But, like with romances and heartbreak over like, people deaths, I guess I am more of a go with the flow it's in the author's plans sort of reader.

  20. I would like to think that my experiences with series disappointment are few and far between (maybe this exact thing you're describing is part of the reason that I so actively avoid series). I do think the Divergent series got significantly worse over time. Although by the time the third one was due to be released, I had already begun to lose hope that Roth would wrap it up well.
    I like your tips for how to get over series disappointment! I'll have to keep it in mind should the need arise (hoping it won't but that's pretty unlikely, I suppose).

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