Saturday, November 10, 2012

What makes a good series?

Posted by: Eleri Stone

I'm a HUGE fan of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and she’s released a new book, Iced, that’s based in the same world. The main character in Iced was a secondary character that I didn't care for in the Fever series. As I try to decide whether I’m going to read Iced, I've been thinking a lot about what it was that made me love the Fever series so much.

If you haven’t read the Fever series it’s about an innocent young woman whose sister is murdered in Dublin under mysterious circumstances. Mac travels to Ireland to find out what happened and stumbles into a big freaking mess. Dark Fae want to invade the human world and Mac's ability to find a powerful book is the only thing that might save us all. So big stakes, right? That’s one thing. But in addition to that, there are several conflicts consistent throughout the series that keep you reading:

Power Imbalance

You're a sheep, Ms. Lane. Lamb to the slaughter in a city of wolves. - Barrons

The heroine, Mac, is hugely outmatched by the hero, Barrons. I should say here that he's not a hero in the traditional sense. This is an Urban Fantasy series, not romance. But the romantic subplot is engaging and becomes increasingly important as the series progresses.

Mysterious and morally ambiguous (that might be generous) character

I will chain you up, tie you down, leash you with magic, whatever I have to do, but you will help me get that book. And when I've got it, I might let you live.- Barrons

Or this

I'm not the hero, Mac. Never have been. Never will be. Let us be perfectly clear: I'm not the antihero, either, so quit waiting to discover my hidden potential. There's nothing to redeem me.- Barrons

While there are no unblemished good or irredeemably bad characters in the series, Barrons is the most shadowy of them all. And he remains that way. I was very happy with Shadowfever but I'm torn about Barrons. I both wanted him to be more fully revealed AND loved his mystery at the same time.

Sexual Tension – with believable obstacles to fulfillment 

“Was he a good kisser, Ms. Lane?” Barrons asked, watching me carefully.
I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand at the memory. “It was like being owned.”
"Some women like that.”
"Not me.”
"Perhaps it depends on the man doing the owning.”
"I doubt it. I couldn’t breathe with him kissing me.”
"One day you may kiss a man you can’t breathe without, and find breath is of little consequence.”
"Right, and one day my prince might come.”
"I doubt he’ll be a prince, Ms. Lane. Men rarely are.” - Barrons

The sexual tension kept building throughout the series. Even once they did have sex, his motivation was murky and she...wasn't herself at the time. So...more tension.

Interesting word building – revealed in bits and pieces

There's some great worldbuilding in this series. Big, complex worldbuilding. I'm not going to go into it now but there's definitely enough going on outside of all of the above to keep your mind turning.

So aside from creating a need in the reader to see the main characters triumph in what is plot-wise a pretty basic story (they're looking for a book), you also have the need to see the scales balanced between the hero and heroine (or at least evened up a little), the need to know who and what the hell Barrons is and the need to see all that sexual tension explode on the page. And NONE of those conflicts were truly resolved until the final book.

Also, all of the books ended on cliffhangers. Some people hated that, but it worked to ramp up the tension.

While I loved the Fever series, I'm conflicted about Iced. Dani wasn’t my favorite character and I cringe a little bit thinking about reading a book from her POV. I’ve also considered waiting until a few more books are released in the series before I dive in. But…my finger keeps hovering over the buy button.

Has anyone read it? What did you think?
If you haven’t, what is it that keeps you reading your favorite series?

8 comments:

  1. I think you've developed a good list there! Have not read the Fever series, personally cliff hanger endings drive me crazy (unless I have the whole series available to read already LOL!). For me it's the characters and the world they exist in, that draw me back. I love Nalini Singh and Patricia Briggs, just to name two!

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    1. Ohhh, Briggs is another favorite of mine. My love for the Mercy series is all about the secondary characters and wanting to get to know them better.
      You should read the Fever series-that one's done. Iced kicks off a spinoff series.

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  2. I haven't read Iced yet, but want to. (I did like Dani)

    I had a curious reaction to the Fever series. Because it was shelved in the romance section I expected a paranormal romance story and the first-person POV and non-ending threw me off. It wasn't until book three that it clicked--oh, this is urban fantasy--that I really began to love the series--because my expectations changed.

    I liked the changes Mackayla undergoes as her abilities grow, and I agree that the sexual tension between her and Barrons was off the charts. And the plot soon grew from Barrons wanting to find a magical book and Mackayla wanting to discover who murdered her sister to far more epic proportions. I love that instead of a race to stop 'the walls coming down', they failed and the walls did come down part-way through the series.

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    1. I loved that too--that they failed to disastrous consequences. I thought that took a lot of guts in the storytelling.

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    2. I'm with y'all here. The author continuously went, not to the bad place, but to the so-bad-you're-not-allowed-to-go-there place. There were so many times in this series I was like.... wait. What? Really? That actually happened??? I thought for sure they were going to stop that from happening!

      And Barrons was totally hot. Moning pulled off alpha-hole in a way that rarely comes across as attractive to me.

      I haven't read Iced yet, mostly because while I liked Dani, I'm not sure I feel up to a series based around her. (Although I'm deeply curious about the adult novel with a teen protagonist. But also the dark, heavy sexuality of Barrons was one of the things I loved best about the series, and having Dani be so young that type of thing would squig me out.) Plus I fear the cliffhanger ending with a year to wait before the next book. I will probably eventually read it, but I've got a pretty big TBR stack to get through before I feel the need to go there, whereas the books in the original Fever series were automatic top-of-the-pile-as-soon-as-released!

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  3. Now I'm sitting here thinking about why Barrons worked so well. Because he wasn't initially presented as a romantic interest? Because they BOTH resisted the sexual attraction? Because he was much more interested in pursuing the Book than Mac?
    We have the same misgivings about Iced, Jax. I'll let you know if I read it. I've seen a lot of good reviews but also some mixed reactions to Dani's age.

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  4. I tried with this series - several times, and I just couldn't get into it. I was wiling to wait for the romance/sex, but I sense - and now it's been confirmed - that I would never really reach full satisfaction with their sexual relationship. I hate that. Call me shallow, but....

    Offline, can someone tell me how it ends? I don't want to read to get there, but I would like to know!

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  5. Oh, you might have been satisfied...but not until the very end. I'll email you!

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