I probably would’ve learned this lesson years earlier if I’d read Ted Dekker’s book Black as a single novel. But my wife had given me the whole three-book Circle Series in hardback as a single volume. So I barely paid attention to the fact that Black didn’t have a satisfactory ending. Or that it was part of a series not a standalone.
The same with Red, the next book in that series. Both of those books required the reader to proceed to the next book. White finally provided the ending I’d been waiting for and reading to reach. As if the series had just been a very long single novel.
So I failed to take in that a series is NOT the same thing as a sequence of standalone sequels.
That happened a number of years ago.
Flash forward to May of this year. I was attending a Christian writers conference near Asheville, NC. Among the many excellent features of the Ridgecrest Lifeway Conference Center was the presence of–surprise?–a Lifeway Bookstore.
If you read my recent post, “I Can’t Live without Books,” you won’t be surprised that I browsed through the Lifeway store at least once daily. Of special interest were books written by faculty and attendees. I enjoyed seeing my three novels there, even though Lifeway doesn’t ordinarily carry them.
I couldn’t justify buying every book I wanted, though–I could’ve spent a hundred dollars in ten minutes–so one day I wandered through the “Bargain Books” section. Few of the books on those shelves appealed to me.
But there was one exception. Forbidden. A lengthy dystopian novel co-authored by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee. For $2.97, how could I go wrong?
I finally started reading it a couple of days ago. Creative. Compelling. Absorbing. A real page turner. And so much better than another dystopian novel I’d read recently.
Last night I made the mistake of flipping to the last page. Not to cheat and see how the story turned out, but to find out what the last page number was so I could figure out how much longer it take me to finish.
Uh, okay. The book cover undoubtedly said something about this book being part of a series, but I didn’t see that or take in its significance. But what I’d accidentally seen on the last page made clear that Forbidden wouldn’t be any more complete by itself than Black had been. Unlike Black, however, I didn’t have the rest of the series.
Some bargain this $2.97 book was going to be if I had to get two more books to read the rest of the story. And at a considerably higher cost than $2.97 per book.
Honestly, I was so frustrated I almost pitched the book into the nearest waste can, determined to forget I’d ever seen it. Why bother to even finish it?
I haven’t pitched it, though. Not yet. But neither have I continued to read it.
I suppose I have no right to feel gypped–I got what I paid for, even though it wasn’t all I’d expected–but I think I’m justified in feeling frustrated. I hate series and now realize I should avoid them carefully in the future!
Let me ask something. What would you do now? Please leave a comment. I’d really like to know.
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“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.
If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.
My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.