Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On the Order of Things

I tend to live my life in chronological order. I don't bounce around in time much. Like most people I finished high school in my teen years and did college in the years that followed. And though I might visit some memories of my past from time to time or connect with an old friend on facebook, I tend to stay pretty much in today.

It often drives me crazy when authors (or movie producers) mess with the chronology of their storylines, especially in a series. In my favorite series, the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child, my least favorite are those that visit earlier periods in his life. I want what is happening now.

Similarly, Vince Flynn has done the same thing with his Mitch Rapp series. I have enjoyed a number of the Mitch Rapp books but I have not read them all. When I heard that Vince Flynn passed away earlier this year I decided that I would go back and reread his books in order. I had to choose between reading them in published order or chronological order and I chose chronological. Interestingly his second most recent book (by publication date) Kill Shot is a flashback and is the second book in the series chronologically. This would have bugged me had I been reading it in published order, but doing it this way it was awesome. It is one of my favorites in the series now.

Don't get me started on what the correct order of the Star Wars movies should be. I saw them in the theaters when they first came out (so yes I am old). Does it make me curmudgeonly to not want to watch them in chronological order? After trying to explain to my seven-year old son about the chronological versus publication order, I gave in and we have been watching them chronologically. And they are better that way.

What I am learning about myself in all this is that I definitely prefer things when they follow their natural timeline. And if they don't I need to trick myself and experience them in as close to chronological order as I can make them.

One tool I use is the "What's Next" database. This helps by listing the order of a series chronologically. We are often asked for help finding the next book in the series. And though that information is in the catalog it is sometimes easier and read and print from What's Next.

Does anyone like it when an author messes with the chronology of their series? 

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