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Features | Not Finishing Series


I've developed a habit of starting series but never finishing them, or if I do finish them, waiting months and months between reading the penultimate and final books in a series, even when the final book is sitting on my shelf, staring at me from across the room, begging me to just read it already. I'm sure I'm not alone in this either. I'm sure many of you reading this will have at least a few series on your shelves waiting to be finished. So, why can't we just get on with it?

The drive is there, for me anyway, to find out what will happen to all my favourite characters. Will they save the world? Will good triumph over evil? Will those two lovebirds finally get together? I want to say goodbye to this world I've read about over multiple books. I want to reach the conclusion and be able to piece together all the steps that lead me there.

But also I don't. It's not an active thought. I don't look at the final book in a series and think 'maybe I don't want to finish that series after all' but the drive to find out what happens is exactly the same thing that holds me back. As long as I don't read that last book, anything could be true. My favourite characters all make it out alive, the bad guy loses, my OTP get together and never face another hardship again. Of course, the opposite is also true. If I never read that last book then maybe everyone dies, the bad guy wins, and my OTP never talk to each other again. It's Schrödinger's plot point.

That's part of the fun of postponing the series finale too. Once you read that last book that's it, the truth, the undeniable canon of the story, and everything you've imagined for the ending of that series will either be proved right or shown as a total miscalculation. As long as you don't read it, you can think of your own ending and hold off on being right or wrong. Of course, once you've finished the series you can come up with your own ideas of what happens next and, barring surprise future sequels, never be proved wrong, but somehow it's less fun to come up with theories when the real answer is no longer waiting to be found out.

Of course the biggest reason we avoid the series finale, the biggest reason I do anyway, is because we aren't really ready to say goodbye to that world yet. The more you've enjoyed a series, the more you've connected with the characters and admired the setting, the harder it is to pick up that last book, knowing that once you turn the final page you'll know everything there is to know and there won't be any more adventures from that world. And what if you don't like the ending? What if you've invested all this time into this series only for it to fall at the hurdle of your final expectations? Well, what if it doesn't?

You'll never know if you don't read that last book. Which is why my reading resolution this year is to read all those final books sitting on my shelves. It's time to make room for new worlds.

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