I love a good series, don't you? Revisiting favorite characters, their friends, family, enemies, and the world they live in. A sequel is like a pair of broken in sneakers. I settle into the story quicker, it's comfortable right from the beginning, especially if there's a little recap, and I enter the next adventure with the characters I've come to know.
Most of the series I read are continuations of the story told in the first book. Sometimes there's a cliffhanger but more often there are threads which tie each story to the next. Take Harry Potter for instance. Each book takes Harry through a school year at Hogwarts in which some type of adventure occurs leading him to his final confrontation with Voldemort. I know that's an extremely simple look at HP but you get the idea. Diehard fans (me) spent months speculating and discussing what would happen to Harry, wondering if Snape was good or evil, who was the Half Blood Prince or RAB, while waiting for J.K. Rowling's next book. And that's one of the fun parts about a series, particularly if it's the last book - the anticipation and wondering how the author will wrap it up. We saw that just last week with the much anticipated Mockingjay, the third and final book in The Hunger Games trilogy.
I bring this up because even though I love to read books in a series, I know I'll be investing a lot of time with the same characters, their world, in their particular circumstances, and also with the same author and his/her own style of writing. That's why I have to be in the mood to read a series and like to choose whether or not I want to invest that time. I just finished Leviathan, a book I had heard a lot of good things about by well respected YA author, Scott Westerfeld. Ironically, I picked it up because I was looking for the first book in a series by him called Uglies. When the library didn't have it in, I chose Leviathan, a steampunk, historical adventure. It's such an imaginative, well written story, a real treat to read, and a refreshing change from what I've been reading lately. And the illustrations are incredible and really add to the novel. As I got near the end, maybe 50 pages away, and was waiting for a particular character to do something (sorry for the vagueness but I don't want to ruin it) I realized that I wasn't going to find out. There's a sequel called Behemoth coming out in October! Somehow I missed the fact that there would be a sequel and felt let down at the end. Not that I'm blaming Westerfeld or anyone else, and I really don't have to read it, but now I'll be wondering what happens to Deryn and Alek. Even though I found steampunk a different and creative genre, I'm not sure if I want to read another, at least not now.
What about you? Do you like to know ahead of time that you're reading the first book in a series? Does it matter?