Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm so over you!

Have you ever had a series that you loved or a character that you adored?  When you first started reading about them, you couldn’t get enough, right? You anxiously anticipated the next book in the series.  You wondered what the characters were doing in their down time.  And then it happened.  One day the series sucked and you wouldn’t care if your character got mowed down by the cross town bus.  So what goes wrong? Has the author run out of new ideas or has the character just outlived their usefulness?  Sometimes it’s a combination of both.

Back in 2000 when Kimberla Lawson Roby’s “Reverend Curtis Black” series first started, it was mildly entertaining. It was Christian lit with less focus on the Christian part and more focus on drama. I like to say that it was as close to secular entertainment as good Christians could come without falling from God’s grace. Anyway, fast forward to 2012 and nine books later, Rev. Black is STILL around. Given that she’s still churning out books and people are still buying them, I guess Lawson Roby plans to ride this wagon until the wheels fall off, but I see far too many negative tweets and comments about them to believe that people are still interested in the misadventures of the Rev, his wife, kids and women.

As much as I used to love James Patterson’s Alex Cross series, let my people go! Remember when the series was really good? Before some movie executive thought Morgan Freeman’s old grizzled self made a decent Alex and way before some misguided movie exec thought Tyler Perry (rather than Idris Elba) personified Alex, there were just the books. And they were good. Patterson has been off his game for awhile as far as his other books and series were concerned, but the Alex Cross series seemed to be a sure thing for the longest. I don’t know if, like with his other books, he started bringing in fledgling writers to assist (read: write for) him, but the plots and developed characters are no longer there. The last Alex Cross book I truly enjoyed wasn’t even about Alex, it was about a distant relative of his.

Has Patterson lost the magic all the way around? Looking at the Women’s Murder Club series, I have to say yes. With the exception of the first book in the series, they’ve all been co-written. I think I lost interest about book five. Beginning in 2000, he published a book about them each year, stopping in 2009 with The 9th Judgement.  Let's pause to give him a collective thank you.

Another series that used to leave me breathless was Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. Kay was funny, she was beautiful and she was absolutely brilliant. The series about a medical examiner with both a J.D. and an M.D. who canoodled with the FBI and hung out with a cop that reminded me of NYPD Blue’s Andy Sipowitz was so much fun to read. So what happened? About nine books into the series, Cornwell changed the voice of Scarpetta from first person to third person. Honestly, I felt like I was having a conversation with Bob Dole. After poor sales and complaints from readers, Cornwell admitted that she had been “going through some things,” some of which she blamed on George W. Bush (don’t ask how she came up with that), and returned to writing Scarpetta as the way she was meant to be written. Unfortunately, most of her readership, including me, had moved on to other authors and characters.

So what series are you over? Is there a character that you wouldn’t mind seeing take a long walk off a short pier?

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