Keeping up with the Characters

Recently I examined my reading habits as of late. I realized that I gravitate towards series and not only just series, but series with recurring characters. Normally, you find this trait in a lot of fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction and paranormal books. Then you have mystery, thriller and contemporary genres that have characters in the same world but not necessarily recurring. My current read is actually a crime, romantic suspense drama that features recurring characters for a whopping 11 books so far and it got me thinking. I had to do a lot of research to find this series and a couple of others that made the list but why is it that I feel I need recurring characters in order to hold my interest in a series?

First things first, when creating a fictional world, many players are to be expected. You have your main two which are usually a male and a female, two of each, or some other variation and they are surrounded by sub characters who you slightly connect with, maybe grow to love, but the focus isn’t really on them. After the first book however, things are subject to change. One such series that I’ve read (Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh) features the main characters Raphael and Elena in the first and second book and then the next couple books are focused on members of Raphael’s team but then the book after that circles back to Raphael and Elena, and so forth. I quite enjoy this series but I wonder if I keep reading it because it circles back to R&E even though I’m not necessarily invested in the side characters?

But then you take a world where the same two characters are in every book and you are watching them learn and grow more and more about themselves. For example, the series I’m reading now that I mentioned above, the Fatal Series by Marie Force, the time span between the first book and the second book is a week. Last week was focused on the murder case of a United States Senator and this week its a US Supreme Court Justice with the personal everyday dramas of the main characters involved. The main woman is a cop who struggles with dyslexia and is obsessed with solving the case that left her dad a quadriplegic and you have the man who’s in love with her but is struggling to try and make a life with her while dealing with his own career as well as the loss of some people closest to him.

This attachment I form to people that don’t even exist is pretty intense. I find that it’s becoming harder and harder for me to read a standalone because I end up wanting more even if it means reading about different characters in the same world, with loose connections to the mains, in the hopes of getting a glimpse of life after book one for those mains I connected with. Then I think about my Netflix watching habits and it’s like watching a TV series versus a movie but not at the same time. I can watch a movie and be content with it ending but when it comes to books, I just have a really hard time.

Anyway, the main reason for this post was to get an idea of what you, my fellow readers, think of series with recurring characters versus series with different characters each book. Do you find yourself becoming attached from the first two characters at the start? I realize that a lot of books do end well or have a subsequent spin off series to completely tie up loose ends with all characters involved but do you ever find yourself wanting more with certain books or book genres versus others? Let me know in the comments below!