Book Eight but It’s Not Too Late! by Darynda Jones
Darynda Jones is publishing her eighth book in the Charley Davidson series and Mary who guest reviews loves this series but I wondered if a reader could jump into the series at book 8. There are so many books that are part of a huge series and the first question I get from new readers to the series is do I have to read the first 5, 6, 8, 10 in the series? Because who has time for that? Darynda says that you can jump in, even at book 8!
So, I write the Charley Davidson series, which is about a wisecracking female PI who was born the grim reaper and her love interest, Reyes Farrow, who was born…farther south.As the title of this post suggests, I’m on the eighth in the series, and one of the questions I get asked often goes something like this: “I won this book/checked this book out from the library/bought this book from the discount bin at Wal-Mart, and I realized it is the second/third/fourth (etc.) book in the series. Can I read it out of order or would you recommend starting with the first one instead?”
First off, the OCD side of me always has a knee-jerk reaction to this question, one that has nothing to do with my books. I simply must start a series with the first book, and I think that’s true of most readers. Unless I didn’t realize the book I was reading was a later installment, I’ll climb mountains to find out which book is truly the first in a series.
This could explain my compulsion to title the Charley Davidson series as I did: First Grave on the Right, Second Grave on the Left, etc. I get aggravated when there are no clues anywhere in or around the book I pick up as to where in lands in a series. Then I am compelled to venture onto the Internet (thank God for smart phones) and look it up.
It’s a trick. I get it. Publishers WANT you to pick up the book no matter where it stands in the timeline. They want that sale. (I do, too!) But it still irks. And I find it odd that publishers have never asked my opinion on the matter. It’s like they’re avoiding me.
Fortunately, I’ve only read a book out of order twice that I can remember. (NOTE: I also have severe ADHD. Memory is not my strongest asset.) The first time turned out fine. I understood everything and enjoyed the book immensely. The second time, I had to stop reading halfway in. The hero and heroine had been thrust into a situation that could only make sense if you had prior knowledge of the writer’s world. And it broke my heart, because I really loved the book up until that point.
But what about Eight Grave After Dark?
While the anal side of me recommends beginning with the first in the Charley Davidson series, part of my job as an author is to make sure you don’t have to. Yep! Writers don’t talk about this often (probably because it’s rather boring) but a big part of our jobs when writing a continuing series is to weave in information about the characters and setting and past events, especially those pertinent to the current situation. We have to ensure new readers will not get lost, while making all that previous information interesting for long-time fans. Kind of like ‘Previously on Castle.’ It has to be clear for new readers and concise for veterans. Otherwise they throw our books across their rooms. That’s never good.
But I’m thrilled to say I’ve already been contacted by three readers who won a copy of the ARC of Eighth Grave from Goodreads and loved it. One said she got a little lost a couple of times but not enough to put the book down, and the other two said they understood everything just fine. And couldn’t put the book down. SQUEE!
Yes, their letters made bubbles of happiness burst inside my chest, but they also let me know that all those revision notes from my amazing editor were worth the heartache of having to go back and explain again how Charley defines society’s need for Adderall or how Reyes’s eyes glisten like moonlight on the ocean. Just kidding! I could describe Reyes’s eyes all day.
In all honesty, there will be things a new reader won’t quite understand or an inside joke she might miss out on, but overall I don’t think it will take away from the experience. Again, if it does, I’m not doing my job.
So, what about you? Have you ever read a book out of order? What was your experience?
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by St. Martin’s Press.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author DARYNDA JONES won a RITA Award for best first novel for First Grave On The Right. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Jones lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.
READ AN EXCERPT HERE