Friday, October 9, 2009

Books and favorite authors

Do you have a favorite author - every time they put out a book you can't wait to buy it?  There are those we watch for, anticipating their next release.  It's been a long time since I was that excited about new arrivals.  Walking through the airports, I did see Dan Brown's new book on the stands, I'm interested to read that, and browsing around, I saw Diana Gabaldon has a new book out.

This post might offend some of Diana's die-hard readers, but when I saw she had released the next installment of the Outlander series, I wasn't as excited as with previous works.  I will probably still read it - but this time I'll probably get it from the library. And here's why.

After I'd had my first child, I was watching an exercise program to get back into shape (a program I still do now!) and one of the commercials was for "A Dragonfly in Amber," by Diana Gabaldon.  Good marketing - getting the female audience.  So I went to the library and checked it out. I was absolutely mesmerized by the story.  Then I discovered it was the second in the series, so I couldn't wait to read more.  I picked up Outlander and was even MORE mesmerized.  These books were so spell binding that I actually took a trip to Scotland (Karla's Big Adventure) by myself because I wanted to experience the haunting mountains and meadows for myself.  I wanted to stand in an outcropping of stone circles and travel through time to a cold, dark place where the food was sparse and unflavored (on a side note, I was also going through a very difficult time personally, so the escape had even MORE allure for me).  Then came the third in her series - Voyager.  Another good novel, but now the pace had sped up so that I was getting whiplash keeping up.  An interesting read, and I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't the same experience as the first two had been.  Where could she go from there?  Well she brought the characters from Scotland to the "New World" as refugees.  But in Book #4, I was a bit put off by their daughter.  And they were getting older, but the adventure continued.  Well written?  Yes.  But again, the magic wasn't there for me anymore.  I still enjoyed it and when Book #5 came out, there I was buying it.  Book #5 was a stretch for me.  The main characters, the ones I had grown to love and admire, were aging, and yet they weren't aging.  Some of their antics were a stretch for me, and the story moved much more slowly.  Her 1,000 page epics, which I easily read through previously, were becoming more difficult.  Could it be my own aging process and inability to keep up?  Maybe the plot was a little thin.  She's moving in a direction, has a vision of where she wants these books to take us, but the individual installments were losing momentum for me.  So now, with the latest, I read a review first.  I read MANY reviews first.  They all read like the fan that I am - I love her work, but it's getting hard to continue on this same road, and the daughter, whose task it is to step into her parents' footsteps, doesn't have the personality her mother and father have.

Will I read the book?  Yeah.  Most likely.  But I didn't pick it up at the Poisoned Pen (Diana's home book store) when I was there, and I'm not inclined to put out the money for it.  I don't feel the excitement of picking it up immediately now that it's on the stands and I won't sacrifice three days of my life rushing to get through it, on lunch hours, after work, before I go to bed, into the wee hours of the night. 

This is disappointing for me.  I miss having an author I can't wait to read.  There have been several through the course of my lifetime, and one by one I've fallen away from dedicated fan status.  Maybe it's just that life gets in the way, or maybe it's pushing your characters too far, beyond the point of suspended belief.

I still enjoy Diana Gabaldon.  I'm still going to read the next installment, the characters are "old friends."  But I guess the honeymoon is over.  Maybe that's just one of the pitfalls of writing a series.  You get comfortable with the same old characters, but if they don't do anything different, there isn't anything to keep you engaged, just comfortable.  Another sad commentary on today's society, I suppose. 

Which authors do you hang on waiting for to release a new book?


  1. Very interesting post!

    I'm possibly more selective about series or individual books more than authors (well, if the author has more than one series/book out).

    For example, I love Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. But I couldn't quite get into his high fantasy series. I tried, but nothing grabbed me in the first book like "Storm Front" did.

    I still anticipate the next book, but some of the... storylines and aspects of the series are now starting to drag out a bit too long. I wasn't impressed with "Small Favor" (even though I did buy it on release day), but "Turn Coat" improved my mood (the latest book). I still had issues with it, but yeah, I'll continue reading (and buying) the books for now.

    I also like Jeff Lindsay's Dexter books--I just got "Dexter By Design". Again, the second to latest book (#3) didn't quite have the same "magic" as the first two (which I adore), but I liked it and thus I got book 4.

    There's a few more authors I like, but I tend to go more on a book or series basis more than a Name. People branch out, and that's awesome, but I'm not guaranteed to like everything a certain author writes.

    As long as a certain series or author continues meeting my expectations, I'll keep reading... :)

    thanks for the post, I'm very curious now what other people think on this.


  2. I once felt this way about the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, and while I will definitely buy (probably even pre-order from Amazon...) Sookie #10, the last couple books just haven't had the same feeling and "spunk" that the first four or five did.

    I want to see the series come to a natural end, and I hope that she doesn't overwrite these characters.

    I, like countless others, bought the last five HP books on pre-order and it wasn't until I finished that series that I fell out-of-love with it as a whole. I still love the first five books, but the last two are just...uninspired.

    I tend to try and finish any series that I read at least the first two books from, but that may just be my OCD talking. The only time it's ever really come back to haunt me is with the Twilight books.

    Also, I agree with Merc on the Dexter books and it's for this reason that I haven't picked up the fourth (I believe?) book. I'll get to it eventually.

  3. Uninspired - good way to put it. Almost like an author gets tired of her characters after a bit, or wants them to be forever young (like Bart Simpson!) Thanks for the comments Merc and Courtney.

  4. Authors and books are sometimes like music CDs it would seem. There are times in life where they mesh and combination is perfect. But when we go back later or we move on and pick up the old, it just isn't the same.

    I'm still hooked on Denise Swanson myself. I mark her next book release date on my calendar, race to the store and then devour the book in one evening :-) Once the romance resolves in her series though, will the magic still be there? ... We'll see I guess :-)