I have noticed that I am frequently haunted by stories that I haven’t finished. You may have noticed that unlike a lot of other readers, I seldom DNF books anymore. This is for a good reason, I can’t let go of the stories. They follow me around and haunt me until I give up a re-read them.
There have been a number of series over the years that I haven’t liked for various reasons, characters, plot or writing style. However in each and every one of them, there was something in them that made me want to pick them up in the first place. I have a fairly good understanding of my reading tastes now, so while I am pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, I rarely pick up a book that has no elements in it that I think I will like. It is this link to what I like that often leaves me hooked in a series I can’t stand.
Oftentimes I can see what I would want the book to be to suit my tastes, and there is just enough hope for it that I can’t forget it. It could be that the world and characters are amazing but the plot is not the story that I want to read, or the plot and themes are great but these are not the characters that I want to here from or that there is something off in the worldbuilding that hampers my enjoyment of the plot. In any case, I am hooked by some elements of the story, even if the negative outweigh the positives for my enjoyment of the story, as it is the closest I am going to get to reading the book I want to read in this universe. I used to power through to the end of the book and give up on the rest of the series, but that has created a problem.
There is something in that incompleteness that drags at me, and makes me feel like I can’t move on until I know how the series ends. Recently I have been buying and completing series that I abandoned in my childhood, often 5-10 years ago, in an effort to clear my mind for a widening of my literary horizons. I am now rereading books I know I won’t like to complete stories for a sense of closure, and it is so annoying. Fortunately, I have found that when an author writes many series in the same universe (e.g. Grishaverse or the Shadowhunters) I only have to finish the series to have closure and not the entire expanded universe.
The problem gets worse when I think of series that I enjoyed but didn’t have the resources to complete. Books that I loved but the series was too big for me to get all of the books, or I simply couldn’t track them all down. I am now catching up on the series that I wanted to read when I was younger, and mourning the loss of enjoyment that I am now experiencing as I read them at far above the target audience. There is a sorrow in reading books that you know younger you would have enjoyed far more than present you ever can, but reading them anyway so that you can reclaim as much joy from their pages as possible. My advice to anyone with the same problem that I am having is to go back and complete the stories, as the closure is comforting even if the realisation of how much you have grown isn’t.