I’ve done this so many times to myself. You’d think I’d have learned by now to thoroughly check to make sure the book I want to read is not part of a series, or is at least the first in the series, before deciding to read it. But I don’t. I guess it’s my weird reading quirk? Or I enjoy being thoroughly confused for a good portion, or all, of a book?
When I was a kid browsing in the bookstore, I had the luxury of opening up the book and perusing the front matter to see what else the author had published and to see, right then and there, if it was part of a series. Now I read, almost exclusively, books I’ve requested from Netgalley and books the author has requested a review of. I get so excited about the book’s description that I’ll just say yes to it without knowing if it’s part of a series or not. Sometimes the description doesn’t say and sometimes the author doesn’t say.
But it’s not all terrible because sometimes it really doesn’t matter if you read a series out of order, especially the more episodic series. Mysteries, too, as each book usually focuses on a different crime. It’s uncomfortable to read and realize you’ve missed out on something, but it’s not un-enjoyable.
Here are some books I’ve read before realizing they were a part of a series:
1. The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman: I honestly had no clue this was book 6 in the Invisible Library series until I was about halfway through and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t understand everything. It wasn’t strictly necessary to have read the previous 5 books, but it would have helped! I still thought it was enjoyable, and at least the series can say it’s picked up another reader because now I really want to know what happened in those first 5 books!
2. Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri: Empire of Sand comes before this book, but I had no clue until I had started reading this one. But I never felt like I was missing out on anything. It felt like a standalone to me, though I imagine reading the first book would have added richer colors to the second. But it’s such a gorgeous book on it’s own. Still, I do mean to read that first book one day.
3. The Worst Lie by Shauna Bickley: I’m so grateful to the author for requesting a review of book 2. I had no idea it was part of series until I started reading. By then, I felt it was a little too late as I had an artificial deadline for my review. I wish I had known more about Lexie and her husband prior to reading this one, but I don’t think it was, again, strictly necessary. I do feel like I missed out on pieces, but, this being a mystery, the current crime that needed to be solved wasn’t dependent on the first, so the episodic nature of this series really makes it easier to jump in. I am also eternally grateful to the author for gifting me the first book, and I hope to have a review up later this month!
4. The Blessed Event by Frankie Bow: This is book 3 in a mystery series. The mystery made sense, the rest of it absolutely did not. This is one mystery series where I think reading the first 2 books would have really helped. I did not enjoy this book at all, so those first 2 books probably had some background information in it that would have helped immensely. The characters were so annoying, though, even reading the first 2 books might not have helped.
5. Queen of the Unwanted by Jenna Glass: This is the second book in a fantasy trilogy. I clearly missed the first one. As it’s a trilogy, it’s one third of a whole, complete story and, here I am, dropping myself right smack into the middle of it. The hard part of a trilogy is that the middle book is usually not the most exciting. We already had the setup and now we’re reaching for the climax. I definitely felt like I was playing catch up and missing out on a lot of details. At the same time, the content of this book made me torn between reading the first book or not. From the events the characters talked about, I’m afraid the first book is too bloody and violent for my tastes. I guess it’s a lucky thing I decided to drop in halfway through! Or maybe I did plan on getting the first book because I’ve had it sitting on my Netgalley shelf for months and just forgot…
Gosh. Five series I’ve decided to drop in on unannounced. At least. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. I hope that going forward I’ll be more carefully, but I also know I probably won’t be.
The interesting part of dropping into a series unannounced is that it’s a real testament to the author and the story if it’s possible to just pick it up and get most of the story anyways without having read the first few books. Some authors just seem to careen on at full speed and never take the time to even remind readers of what happened before. I think that’s probably by design, especially if it’s a short series like a trilogy and there’s a lot of ground to cover. But others take the time to reacquaint readers with characters, places, stories before diving back in, which is really nice even if I had been following the series properly because there’s often a healthy delay between each book.
Have you started reading a book before realizing it’s part of a series? What was it like for you? Let me know!