So I've been cogitating on series lately. The reason for this cogitation (which should only be attempted by a trained professional, with spotters) is that I'm reading the second-latest in a long-running series that I won't name because really the question is not about that series, it's about series qua series, and I've descended into pretentious Latin that I may not in fact be using correctly, oh god, help me.
Ahem. I promise, no more sentences like that.
So what kicked off all this babbling was that I started the book and went, "Oh, more of this stuff." And then I went, "Uhoh." Because the main character is genuinely a lot of fun and spunky to the max and all that, but I was like, "Really, kid? Again? Do you ever learn? Like, ever?"
I've noticed this with other series, too, especially the ones that get up to about four or five books with no end in sight. I'd argue (and some may argue with me) that the Harry Potter series actually escaped this. Yeah, there was a certain formula. Important elements always included Voldemort, DADA teacher, infirmary visits (god, that kid got banged up), Ron and Hermione, Dumbledore, and often Quidditch. It was a Harry Potter book, so you knew all this was going to happen. But Rowling kept raising the stakes and Harry kept encountering situations and choices that pushed him out of his comfort zone, and ours. Can you imagine first-year Harry doing what seventh-year Harry did? Not me.
It may be the Harry Potter thing, it may be the Will of the Almighty Dollar, but series seem to be longer-running than ever lately. And they're thick books. It's not just the Magic Treehouse model anymore, a whole row of 100-pagers that you can skip through. What this means is that, more than ever, I'm getting the Oh This Again feeling. I'm a completist, so it takes quite a bit to stop me reading the rest of the series, but I'm starting to re-think that.
At what point does a series lose the pull, that Oooh, What's S/He Going to Do Now and become More of the Same? What has an author done that has pulled it out for you?