I have commitment issues.
The one-night stand is fine; it’s ok if the book is a stand-alone because once I’m done with it, it’s over (pretty much any story).
I also don’t mind if the same protagonist is used in different novels as long as I can read their stories in any order; the novels can lean on each other’s fourth wall by commenting on previous incidents but that’s probably the extent (James Bond series). So if we are to continue with the relationship analogy, it’d be a friends-with-benefits type of thing.
I even enjoy stories that are ongoing and although each novel is relatively independent, there are the consistent elements that define the series (Comoran Strike series). I’d classify this as the healthy long-term relationship with the comfortable routine.
My problem comes when the story has a definitive start and end, and the story unfortunately comes in multiple instalments (The Millennium Trilogy). Because my problem comes down to the fact that I like to finish something and I have an insatiable desire to know how things end. And I don’t know if I want to commit to something I may not want to finish, since only reading the first book of a series does something to my OCD.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with starting with the end in mind because it generally means that stories are better developed for it. It also means that generally accepted concepts in that universe isn’t given a ridiculous backstory for the sake of it. The stories aren’t just being continued with unnecessary sequels for financial gain.
But sometimes, even if I dislike something, even if I know I’m in for disappointment given the standards of the first instalment, I still need to know what happens, so kind of like pursuing the drunken one-night stand even though in the sober hours, it’s clear they’re some kind of asshole. Hence why I am the owner of all four of the Twilight books (I’m so pleased with my analogy and how it’s worked in this particular example, given all the controversies surrounding Edward and Bella’s depiction of how a relationship works).
And you all know how I recently read ‘Flowers in the Attic’? I decided not to read the remaining novels because it’s Wikipedia entries provided definitive evidence that they were classic examples of what happens when authors wring their characters for every last monetary drop that they’re worth and extend a story beyond its lifespan. But it’s hurting me to not finish it.
The Millennium Trilogy was also painful. I loved ‘The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’ but when I learnt that the next two novels were Lisbeth- and Mikael -centric (neither of whom I particularly liked), I decided to abandon ship. But again, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I also had serious plans to start on ‘Wolf Hall’ but that thing is heavier than a baby and I just discovered that Mantel is writing the third instalment on top of all things.
And unfortunately, these issues are making me cautious about investing time and money into something I suspect I may dislike because I’m well aware of my tendency to fall for the sunk cost fallacy. But when I find the first instalments of series that I’ve contemplated, sold cheaply in a second hand sale, my curiosity overwhelms the cautiousness, and I can barely resist.
Because, like any attempt to make meaningful connections with other people, you never know unless you try and you can’t spend the rest of your life being timid or you’ll miss out. So in the larger scheme of things, I don’t mind being disappointed because at least now I know. And I’ve stumbled across some amazing finds when I was on the ‘Give-it-a-go’ mentality and that high of finding a new author to love trumps a bad novel everytime.
What does everyone think?