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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Can Books Jump The Shark?

We all know the phrase "Jumping the Shark" right? Its used to refer to television series that go completely downhill after putting out a really stupid plotline that absolutely loses their viewers. Originally used to refer to the episode of Happy Days where the Fonze jumps over a shark on water skis, we now use it regularly to refer to television shows. I've heard many conversations about whether or not one show or another has 'jumped the shark.'

I started to wonder if it was possible for longtime series to jump the shark? If you're following a series closely, if you've devoted yourself to the character(s) for many, many books, is it possible for a series to actually 'jump a shark' the same way a television show can?

For me, I find it happens more with historical romances than any other genre. Maybe its because I am easily captivated by world building in the Paranormal world and I find that I can accept almost anything. This goes against a lot of people's feelings. I know that readers are often very devoted to their vampires/werewolves. If you break or bend a few rules with them, readers don't like it.

But for me? Its more of a historical problem. Let's say I'm reading an historical romance series set in Regency England. The series is about six women who are getting to be on the so-called shelf or they agree they only want to marry for love or their sisters. It doesn't really matter for this argument. The first three books go very well. One falls in love with a misunderstood Duke, the next an earl who didn't kill his fiance even though he was accused, and the third with a French count who has been exiled. Now we get to Book 4. All of a sudden, our heroine is in love with the butler. Okay. Fine. But when the butler turns out to be the long lost bastard son of the Duke's third cousin? The series has jumped the shark for me. By the way, I have been very vague here. On purpose. Don't try to figure out which series I'm talking about because it has happened to me, recently, three times and I've deliberately not referred to the actual scenarios in the books here. I wouldn't want to offend.

Has a series ever jumped the shark for you?


  1. First, I don't ever remember hearing that saying! But I like it!!

    Second, yep, I've had a series do that to me. The first few will be great and then it's like the next one has just lost it's magic. Either the author has pushed the plot too far out of the realm of possibility to even bother trying to believe in the characters plight, or the plot is just too weak compared to the others. I hate it when that happens since I love to read series and stay with characters longer than just one book.

  2. Heather, you had never heard that saying? LOL. Go look it up and watch the episode where Fonzie water skis over the shark. Its hysterical. LOL.

  3. Great question, but I can't think of any series that have jumped the shark for me.