Bookish Musings: Are Abandoned Series Still Worth It?

 
 

We all know the dreaded scenario:

*turns off lights and holds flashlight underneath face*

You get one, two, three, maybe even four or more books deep into a series when it stops, possibly on a cliffhanger, and then suddenly…

*dramatic pause*

There are no more books!

That is just the worst.

Except recently I actually read the first book in a series I knew was abandoned and am contemplating starting some more abandoned series, and it’s making me think about this in a new way and wonder if maybe it’s not the worst afterall. Of course it’s also making me wonder if I’m crazy for wanting to start series I know I won’t get closure for, so let’s discuss!

 

 

Why Unfinished Series Are the Worst

I think this is pretty obvious. After investing so much time and emotion into a series, we want to get the full story and know how it ends! We want answers to all the questions left hanging, we want to know what happens to the characters, we want to know if they accomplish their goals, and we want closure.

If there’s a cliffhanger at the end of the book, this applies even more.

And unless the author has a good reason for doing that (e.g. personal/health/financial/life problems), I consider abandoning a series to be akin to abandoning the readers who have loyally followed it.

Why Unfinished Series Are Still Worth It

When you think about it though, is a book that you enjoyed any less good just because you didn’t get all the answers in the series? Did you enjoy it any less while you were reading it?

I think it depends.

If I don’t get the full story of that one particular book, then I feel gypped. Every book should have a full story, even if there are still some things hanging in the air for the rest of the series.

But as long as the characters resolve the problem/goal of that individual book, I can feel satisfied. If there are big unanswered questions or a cliffhanger that comes after they resolve the problem of that book, it’s frustrating, it is, but maybe it could be considered an open ending. Really, no ending is a true ending anyway unless the character dies (and even then, depending on your beliefs, there could be life after death). So even if I’m left wanting to know how the future will turn out, that doesn’t necessarily ruin the enjoyment I had while I was reading. If I laughed, if I cried, if I felt, that can’t be taken away from me.

Starting a Series That Has Already Been Abandoned

So now the question is, is it completely crazy to start a series even if you know there will never be an ending?

As I mentioned, I’ve done it. There are some books out there that I really want to read, that seem amazing, and it seems a shame to miss out on them.

I also wonder if going into it already knowing it won’t be finished makes a difference. If you know, at least you won’t be disappointed by incorrect expectations.

My Overall Thoughts

While I would much prefer that authors finish every series, I still think the abandoned ones are worth it sometimes. If the books made me feel something, or gave me enjoyment, or helped me pass the time, or taught me something, I can’t bring myself to regret reading them. Of course, I could have spent that time reading another series instead that would’ve also made me feel, given me enjoyment, etc. and given me a satisfying conclusion, but if I loved a series enough to be upset about it being abandoned, then it must’ve been damn good, and I wouldn’t have been able to get that same exact thing from any other series.

The same applies for starting abandoned series—if a book is calling to me that much, chances are I’m going to love it and gain something from it. And if I do, it’ll still be worth it.

 
 
 

Talk to me!

What about you, have you ever started a series that never got completed?
Do you think abandoned series are still worth the time you spent reading them?
Would you ever start a series that you know has already been abandoned?

 

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  1. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    Oooh I like this post! So abandoned series make me cry. I HATE unresolved endings, and so I do not handle them well at all. I mean, this is coming from someone who gets stabby at open endings, so you can imagine that the abandoned series doesn’t work well for me. In fact, I am now insanely curious as to which books these are just so I can avoid them ? Is that bad? I can think of only a few series that were abandoned that I loved. One is Fire & Flood, but I still hold out hope for that one, some day. And the Dark Inside series by Jeyn Roberts had been unfinished for ages until she published the last book herself (which makes her my new hero), though I DO get that not all authors can do that, and I imagine it was quite a process for her to do so (hence the hero thing). But seriously, there needs to be a Goodreads list of these abandoned series somewhere, so I can protect my heart ;)

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: #ShatteringStigmas: Humor in Mental Health, Yay or Nay?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I get it, I do. I don’t *like* when series are abandoned either. I read two books in one series this year that ended with this HUGE cliffhanger, and it appears the author has disappeared and there’s no final book in sigh D-: And that was when I started always checking in advance before starting a series lol. Obviously you can’t do that with new books, but you can with older ones at least. You’re right though, there should be some sort of indication when series have been abandoned! But then, I still enjoyed those two books a lot when I read them, so I’m still glad I read them. Cliffhangers hurt less over time. Time heals the wounds lol.

  2. verushka

    I haven’t come across any abandoned series and I’m trying to decide what I would do. I think if each book was a self contained story, I wouldn’t mind starting an abandoned series. But then, on the other hand, I’m not too fussed I think — I mean, I get distracted very easily by good books, so odds are good I’d be mad and then go: OOH SHINY at the next book that caught my attention. i’m fickle like that lol

    1. Kristen Burns

      Well, when books are entirely self-contained stories but set in the same world or something, then it’s really not an issue if the writer stops the series. But I think it can still be worth it even if it’s a more connected series as long as the main goal for that book gets wrapped up. And yeah, that’s the thing, even if there’s a cliffhanger or something, I get all agitated as soon as I finish, but eventually it kinda fades as I find more books lol.

  3. sjhigbee

    I’ve read two series that were abandoned – both through unforeseen circumstances and I DIDN’T start them knowing that would be the case… What does sometimes shock me is the vitriol that some readers display towards authors who don’t complete a series – even if there are extenuating circumstances like severe depression (something that writers are prone to). No – I wouldn’t start a series if I knew it had been abandoned because the complete arc envisaged by the author is incomplete, but sometimes it just happens. I don’t think anyone sets out to write a series knowing they won’t complete it, either…

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s just that, as readers, we invest so much into the series—our time, our money, our emotions—so it’s upsetting when it gets abandoned. The fact that people get so angry is a sign of how much they loved the books. As I said, I obviously understand there are sometimes legitimate reasons, like depression or health problems. But, for example, I read the first book in one series and then found out from the author that he just stopped writing the series after a few books because they weren’t making enough money… and in a way I did feel put off by that because I feel like when an author starts a series they do so with an unspoken promise to complete it. I understand the need to make money, but I feel like a series is never going to make money if you never complete the story arc and simply give up. All the time it took to write and publish numerous books is just wasted now. That’s what marketing is for! I mean, I would’ve kept reading, but I decided not to since why get invested when there would never be an ending? I think the thing is, it’s more aggravating as a reader when the author is still writing… but they’re just writing a bunch of other stuff and not completing the series they started and got you invested in. It’s also upsetting when the author just disappears and doesn’t even let the readers know whether the series will ever be finished or not.

  4. Lekeisha

    I’ve never read a series that was abandoned. It may have taken the author a few years to bring the next book, but I always get some closure (might not be the closure I want, but….). Now, I have definitely read series that the ending sucked and I wanted a do-over. I feel alone here. What series has everyone been reading that got abandoned?! I need to know before I run across it or something. Great post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I wonder what’s worse, no closure, or bad closure? :-P The series I’ve come across are indie and self-pub ones, so you probably don’t have to worry. You should happy to feel alone about this particular thing, haha.

  5. Lola

    I can’t really think of a lot of abandoned series from the top of my head that I’ve read, but I’ve seen a few conversations or mentions about abandoned series now and then. Overall I don’t like open endings and my first response is to say I don’t like abandoned series, but on the other hand I do think that some books can do with an open ending. Or for example cozy mysteries, each book is it’s own adventure and mystery that gets solved and ofcourse it would be nice to read until the series is really ended, but on the other hand if the series stops earlier it still gives you a decent ending.

    Also I have heard of a few authors whose series got cancelled and then self published the rest and I think that always is a good option. That way you can finish the series and give your fans the real ending even if the publisher doesn’t contract you for more books. But I can also imagine self publishing isn’t for everyone. From what I know I think it’s harder to find a new publisher for your books if they already have been published under another publisher.

    I don’t think I have ever started a series knowing it was unfinished, but I do think that would be a curious situation and I am not sure if I would still like the start the series or not. I have stopped some series halfway through with no hurry to continue, so i imagine an abandoned series could be similar to that, but it still seems weird to start a series knowing it has no real ending and got abandoned. But like you said what if the book sounds really good? I think I might still pick it up then. And maybe it’s even easier to start a series knowing it is abandoned than following the series and only later learning it gets abandoned. As in the first case at least you know what to expect?

    I recently watched Firefly which is basically an abandoned tv series, you notice not all plot threads get resolved and there was room for way more seasons, but there aren’t. And the way the last episode ends still makes for a good ending. yes there could be more, but it isn’t necessary. So I think that if the last book has a decent ending and no cliffhanger it could still work and make for a good read even knowing it’s abandoned.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m pretty ok with open endings as long as they’re not, like, *too* open or a huge cliffhanger. So it really does depend on the book as to whether it still works even if the series gets abandoned. Like you said, some wrap up better than others.

      I think self publishing if the publisher doesn’t want to continue is a great option. I know self publishing isn’t for everyone, but, in a case like that, the author would already have a fan base and wouldn’t have to worry about the marketing aspect as much.

      I think there’s a difference between stopping a series halfway through when you’re just not interested and being interested but having the series get abandoned. It’s similar in that you don’t know how it ends in both scenarios, but if you’re not interested, then you really don’t care how it ends lol. But like I said, I did read a book recently (review going up next week) that I knew had no more books out, and it worked out alright. I think it is better when you know ahead of time.

      Ah, see? So you’ve never read an abandoned book series but you have watched an abandoned TV series lol. But yeah, exactly, with some endings, it works well enough!

  6. Eva @ All Books Considered

    ♥ this but I really struggle with abandoned series. For me, there are two that immediately stick out to me and I long for them to conclude every. single. day. It’s an interesting premise from you (i.e. that they are not the worst) but I suppose I am selfish and want those conclusions! That being said, I know what you mean if the part of the series before it’s abandoned is great, they are still great books. It just feels so unfinished

    The two series I am thinking of are:

    1. The Georgetown Academy series by Jessica Koosed Etting & Alyssa Embree Schwartz
    2. Magic in Manhattan series by Sarah Mlynowski

    Eva @ All Books Considered recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

    1. Kristen Burns

      I get you. I think whether abandoned series are ok really depends on how the last book ended, how much closure you got, how invested you were, etc. I have one series I read two books in, and I think it got abandoned, but the second book ended on a HUGE cliffhanger! So that bothers me, though I am still glad I read the books since I enjoyed them a lot. And there’s one series I’ve been waiting over a year and a half for the final book, and I swear I never go more than a week without wanting that damn book. So that one had better not get abandoned or I really will be upset! It is kind of a toss up, the books were still great, but yes, abandoned series do feel so unfinished. Maybe a miracle will happen and we’ll both get our series completed some day :-P

  7. Rowena

    When I first started reading, I would read everything and anything that I could get my hands on. I would read entire books even though I wasn’t really feeling them (cause I couldn’t bear to DNF a book) and I had to read every book in a series (in order) and I would wait anxiously for the next installment.

    These days, if my attention isn’t caught in the first 100 pages, I put that book down. If I don’t feel like reading books 1 & 2 in a new to me series then I’ll jump right to book 3 but I read a lot of romance novels series and those tend to be books that you’re able to read as standalones so picking and choosing which books to read isn’t that big of a deal, not like it would be for a YA series.

    So overall, for me and the books/series that I read, I have no qualms about starting a book in the middle of a series or reading a series that hasn’t ended yet…there will always be something else to get me through.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I still can’t bear to DNF a book, haha. I have a whole post about that coming up soon! And I never jump around in series because for me the magic is in all those little details that build upon each other and really getting to know the characters and see their development. But as you said, if it’s the type of series that you’re able to read as standalones or they focus on different characters in each book, that’s different. And as you said, there are always going to be more books, and it’s not like we finish every single series we start anyway!

  8. Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!

    I think some certain unfinished series are worth it. If the ending resolved the issue of the book, then I would still read it, even if the overarching review isn’t resolved. I would actually rather start a series I know will be unfinished than start a series and have it unexpectedly end. At least I know what I am getting into then! Great discussion! In the end, I think it depends on the book.

    Genni @ Ready, Set, Read! recently posted: AUDIOBOOK REVIEW | The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly! I think you understand my post perfectly lol. As long as the book issue is resolved, I can usually deal with not knowing the overall fate. And I’d rather know ahead of time too so I can prepare myself and decide whether it’s worth it for that series. But it really does depend on the book. Thanks!

  9. Greg

    This one’s tough. Unfinished series can be so frustrating, but at the same time yeah you have a good point- even if we DON”T get the answers, we can still enjoy what we DO have right? And I think the answer to that is yeah, at least for me. Take the Game of Thrones books. The next book is WAY overdue and if that series never gets finished that would suck, but you know what? The books that are there are still good. As long as , like you say, there is some closure, some arcs that are resolved.

    As for abandoned series, yeah it”ll give me pause but if I want to read it bad enough I’ll dive in. Even knowing you’re not going to get that final resolution, you can still enjoy the ride. The journey, not the destination. :)

    Greg recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly! As frustrated as I am by the series I’ve read that seem to have been abandoned, I can’t say I regret reading them since I really enjoyed what I did get to read. Though it is A LOT more frustrating when there are cliffhangers or big questions left unanswered.

      Haha, great point about the journey and not the destination. It’s true though! There are some books that I want to read bad enough, and I think knowing ahead of time does allow you to simply enjoy the ride, as you said.

  10. Annemieke

    I agree that abondened series are still worth reading. Unless the last released book has a huge cliffhanger. Then I shall scratch my head for a bit longer to pick it up. I’m used to stories not being finished after having read fan fiction for years so I’m used to being left hanging. Though I do have to say I haven’t really picked up any series that are truly abondoned. I can only think of The Archived series by V.E. Schwab where there was suppose to be a third book but the publisher didn’t want to go with it (or something along those lines).

    Annemieke recently posted: Book Review – Steelheart

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, ending on a cliffhanger does make it super frustrating. But if it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, then it’s just kind of like an open ending. You get the main goal wrapped up, but the future of the characters/world remains unknown. I’ve never read The Archived series, but that must suck when the author wants to continue but the publisher doesn’t.

  11. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I was just thinking about this not too long ago! I can’t remember the series at the moment, but I was seriously contemplating starting it even though I know it isn’t finished, nor will it be. So I might. It’s different going in knowing than it is already being invested when it stops. I’d rather know first.

    Christy LoveOfBooks recently posted: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

    1. Kristen Burns

      So you understand my dilemma! The book I decided to read recently turned out well since it did wrap up the goal of the book at least. I think I would’ve forever wondered about that book if I hadn’t decided to try it, so I’m glad I did. I also think it’s better to know ahead of time so that you can at least prepare yourself and go into it with a different mindset.

  12. Victoria Grace Howell

    I haven’t read an abandoned series of books, but I have watched shows that’ve been canceled without a good conclusion and that’s the worst feeling. XD I think it bothers me more when a series continues too long and then the characters are ruined.

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t watch many shows nowadays, but I used to have the WORST luck with shows in the past! I think shows are worse though since they almost always end on massive cliffhangers and leave SO MUCH unresolved. Books tend to wrap up more most of the time. That’s a good point too though, it might be even worse for a series to continue and just go downhill. Kinda ruins the magic.

  13. Laura

    I don’t think I’ve ever read an abandoned series before. I’ve definitely read series where there is such a huge gap between books it feels as if it’s been abandoned and that drives me so crazy, so I don’t know if I could deal with not knowing the ending!
    It’s an interesting thing to think about though, as sometimes I’m not satisfied with the way series I’ve otherwise enjoyed have ended, so I guess if a series never ends you can’t be disappointed? Maybe if an abandoned series really catches my eye, I’ll give it a go anyway :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      I mean, it does drive me crazy when there’s a long gap or when the author has disappeared and I don’t know whether a series has been abandoned or not. But then if you already go into it knowing it’s been abandoned, there’s more a sense of peace since you’re not sitting around wondering or expecting more. You can just accept the ending you got and move on.

      That’s something a few people have mentioned, and I wonder which is worse, having a series be abandoned, or having a series end badly? Lol. But exactly, there are some that I’m just drawn to too much and can’t resist even though I know they’ve probably been abandoned!

  14. Jessica

    I hate cliffhangers. I loved His Fair Assassins book series by Robin Lafavars. She had health problems and she is going to write some more books. And Zoo 2 by James Patterson was good, but it has a bad cliffhanger. I don’t know if he is going to do a third one. I keep hoping he is just waiting on a third season of the show maybe.

    Jessica recently posted: The Rules of Thoughts

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m not a fan of cliffhangers either. And I think the fact that sometimes series unexpectedly get abandoned when something like health problems come up is a strong case for why authors should avoid them! At least the readers can be kind of content with an abandoned series if the ending wrapped up the goal of that book and didn’t end with a cliffhanger.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol then yeah you probably wouldn’t do well with abandoned series. I don’t *like* not having answers, but I can deal with it as long as there’s not some huge cliffhanger.

  15. Got My Book

    have thought about this, and the fact is that I am such a chronic series dropper that I often don’t even get as far the author in an abandoned series. I would actually rather have no ending than a bad one. Now obviously, I don’t like it but it wouldn’t stop me from reading a book that sounds really good to me.

    It’s also true though that I rarely continue a series where they don’t at least have a partial resolution at the end of every book. If I read a book that ends in the middle of a scene or situation related to the conflict in that book (rather than as an introduction to a new conflict in the next book), I actually put that author on an auto-reject list.

    My Most Recent Discussion: “But I Wanted You to Have a Normal Life”

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m not a series dropper. I read a lot of first-in-series and decide not to continue, but to me that’s different. Once I get to Book 2, I’m usually in it for the long haul. But if you often drop series, it makes sense that abandoned ones wouldn’t concern you.

      YES. When a book ends with no resolution to the goal that was brought up for that particular book, it immediately makes me angry because that’s not a story! A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end! It has rising action, a climax, falling action, and a wrap-up! Story writing 101! I agree that I don’t mind if it has a cliffhanger that kind of introduces the conflict of the next book, but ending the story before or during the climax upsets me because it feels like the author just wanted to force me to buy the next book. I have had some exceptions in which I kept reading and/or understood why the author did that, but the exceptions are rare.

  16. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    I don’t think I’ve ever read an abandoned series, but I don’t see the problem with it really. I mean, we start television shows right? Some of them already cancelled, yet we start them. Or, they’re new and might not even get a second season, but we watch anyways. Both instances not all questions are answered, but we still watch and love them. I think it’s all about how each book is dealt with, like you said. If it can stand on its own as a book, then great! If it literally leaves you just saying “what the heck” then maybe not? hahah

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook recently posted: Authorly Love: Type X by M.A. Phipps

    1. Kristen Burns

      I actually don’t watch many TV shows, but yeah, I feel like it would be exactly the same as starting a canceled TV show! Actually, shows are worse since those almost always end on HUGE cliffhangers! Books are more often somewhat wrapped up. But yeah, if I know the book will end on a huge cliffhanger or not give a full story or just leave me confused, then I probably wouldn’t start that series.

  17. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I don’t think I would ever start a series knowing that it’s not going to be finished, but this is sort of hypocritical of me since I’m so terrible at actually finishing series! There have been plenty of series that I LOVED, but I still haven’t gotten around to finishing them (even if it’s been years since I read the others). So how is this any different than reading a series that I can’t finish? I’m basically doing the same thing to myself, but vowing that I will someday finish!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted: Bite-Sized Reviews – Treason, Just a Girl, and Me Before You

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I guess the difference is that in one scenario, you have the choice to continue if you want to, whereas in the other, you don’t have that option. But I tend to binge read series and to read new books in series I love ASAP, so I’m the opposite of you in that regard!

  18. Cilla

    This is what fanfictions are for! That aside though, I think I’d be disappointed if a series I’m invested in gets abandoned. I’m so used to television shows I love being cancelled though, that I probably won’t be too fussed. If I’d enjoyed it while it lasted, that’s not a waste of my time. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be opposed to picking up an unfinished series either, but the existing books would have to really compelling to me.

    1. Kristen Burns

      But none of the books I read have fanfictions because they’re most indie and self-pub! So then what do I do?! Lol write my own fanfic endings I guess :-P I think it would be the same feeling as a TV show getting canceled. And exactly, if I enjoyed something while it lasted, I can’t bring myself to feel like it was time wasted. And yes, I’ll only start an abandoned series if those books are REALLY calling to me.

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  22. Mareli Thalwitzer

    I think my changes are better to turn into a serial killer than a serial reader of series. Don’t know why – but I’m not that into series!! There are a few that I know I want to read: Raven Cycle, Shades of Magic, and I can’t remember what else. I do have a list somewhere….!! But they are all completed series…. So I have never read a series that was incomplete and then abandoned.
    Won’t do that to myself. It’s like visiting the kennels to visit all the abandoned doggies. Don’t do that. Great discussion point! And I’ll make sure to contact you before I start with a new series. Just to make sure it didn’t end up in the kennels.

    Mareli Thalwitzer recently posted: It's Monday! What are you reading? #2

    1. Kristen Burns

      I much prefer series to standalones! So we are opposite on that. I one point I made a vow not to start any series until it was complete, but that didn’t last very long because they were all too tempting and I wanted ARCs and all that lol.

      Hahaha, but I literally did used to visit this one kennel to see and pet the dogs! So does that mean it makes sense that I’m willing to try an abandoned series? Lol.

  23. Alice @ Arctic Books

    This is a really intriguing discussion! I can’t really think of an unfinished series from the top of my head, but I think that if it were me, I wouldn’t waste my time on series that don’t have a conclusion. I think that there are a lot more series that I might be looking for that gives me a satisfying end. This was super intriguing though; thank you for sharing!

    Alice @ Arctic Books recently posted: My Top Favorite TV Shows! | TTT

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! That makes sense. There are so many series out there that ARE finished and could give a satisfying ending, so I can understand not wanting to spend time on the ones that aren’t. Some of them just look too good for me to pass up though!