I’ve done it and I’ll bet you’ve done it too. You start off reading a series of books and you think they’re great. A few books in and things aren’t looking so good but you think, “I’ll keep going, things are bound to pick up in the next book.” At least, that’s what you think; little do you know it but you’re just about to enter the ‘twilight zone’ in every series, that one book that perhaps represents the lowest point of the author’s career. You hate it and cannot believe that you shelled out money, that you worked for, in order to buy it. You go on as many on-line forums as you can and go on at length about how rubbish you think it is. But when you think no-one is looking, you gather together your hard earned cash, sneak off to the bookstore and buy the next book. This one may be just as bad (or even worse) than the last but you will still go to the bookstore, when the next one comes out, and keep buying.
Why do we do this? Is it force of habit? Is it a need to see the completed series on the bookshelf? Are we trying to make some kind of ironic point? Why do we keep buying books, in a series, when the last one was so bad it makes us want to cry?
I’m just as guilty of this weird behaviour; I’m collecting the ‘Wheel of Time’ series. For me, the series started off looking very good indeed. And it kept getting better; peaking at book four, slumping a little on book five and then perking up again for book six. Then things started to get ropey. Far too many characters and sub-plots, and Jordan seemed to feel compelled to follow each one through to the bitter end. It also got to a point where I felt like breaking something if one more female character folded her arms, pulled her braid or said something bad about ‘the menfolk’. And then ‘Crossroads of Twilight’ was published… It had everything I hated about the last few books only it was all described in far greater detail this time. Fifty pages on what an Aes Sedai campsite looked like. Whole chapters where all a travelling circus did was travel a few yards up the road. It’s safe to say that there are only a few books that I have enjoyed less than ‘Crossroads of Twlight’. But you know what? As soon as ‘Knife of Dreams’ came out in mass-market paperback I made sure I had a copy. Why did I do this? For me, I think it was a case of sheer bloody-mindedness. I looked at the reams of paper that I had trawled to (to get to this point) and thought, “I can’t stop now, especially as there’s only supposed to be one book left after this!” The other thing was that, despite my confusion at some of their actions, I had invested a lot of time in watching certain characters grow and wanted to see how things ended up for them. Oh yes, and the bookshelf wouldn’t look right without the whole series sitting on it…
That’s my confession, what about yours? Why do you continue to put money in the wallet of an author that you really don’t think deserves it anymore? You don’t have to name any names if you don’t want to!