Be warned. This post might make you angry. It might make you shake your fist at me, asking, “What type of person are you!?” I’ve spoken about this elsewhere before, but I would like to share something I do that tends to be pretty controversial.
Get ready for it.
I sometimes read book series out of order. On purpose. That’s right. Here’s what Mark Lawrence had to say about it when I first mentioned this in the subreddit, r/Fantasy:
As an author this makes me weep.
(I promised I would read The Broken Empire trilogy series in order, so I will stand by that promise.)
I started doing this as a little experiment a couple of years ago, just to see if it were possible. That is, would I be terribly lost the whole time? Would major things happen that would go over my head?
It’s also nothing new. My first Harry Potter book, for example, was The Prisoner of Azkaban. However, I didn’t consciously set forth to read the series out of order.
The first series I consciously did this with was The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I read the series backwards: 4, 3, 2, 1. And you know what? It was excellent. I got to meet the gang at the height of their search for the Welsh King; then, I got to see how they ended up there. I’ve also done this with the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, and The Orphan’s Tales duology by Catherynne M. Valente. I’m currently doing this with the Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan (I’ve read the last book and really enjoyed it!) and The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie (I’ve read the second book and also really liked it).
I should add here that I only do this for series I either have all of the books for or can easily get all of the books (e.g., via my library).
So do I get lost? You might think so, seeing as how I’m jumping in the middle of the action. The simple answer is that I don’t get lost. I’ve found that if something is highly important to the story (be it a plot point, a character, a setting, etc.), then the author will make sure you know somehow. “But what about the spoilers?” you might ask. It’s true; reading things out of order does technically spoil things. At the same time, though, it’s not like authors continue to preface those things with, “This was a big twist!!!! Remember???” As mentioned earlier, if something is highly important, I’ll know.
I treat it like reading prequels. It’s a “how did we get here?” Essentially, then, every series I do this with begins in media res. I also just like doing it.
I still get to see character development; I just see it in a different way. Same thing with plot.
There you have it: my dirty, little secret. And here I’d like to leave you with a link to one of my Instagram photos where I’ve also folded a copy of one of my Harry Potter books.