Feral Friday - Standalone Books Vs Series

Yay! Once again it is Friday! And our calendars tell us it’s time to go feral (like we needed the reminder). As Friday is the day we talk about bookish topics at Book Nerd Reviews.

This week, we’re talking about standalone books versus series:

Kristy’s say:

I don’t really have an overall preference between standalone or a series… that can only be answered depending on the story. And my mood.

What I can say is that I don’t like a book being made into a series, or a series being dragged out, just for the sake of it. I would rather read one really great book rather than 3 mediocre ones. So if the storyline requires more than 1 book, then I am all for a series!

For example, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor was originally supposed to be a standalone. But as she was writing, the plot flourished so much she realised she could not complete it in one book (or 2 – it is now a trilogy). Personally I am grateful for this, as rather than skimming over things, or not including certain aspects, Laini has let us explore so many characters and events, and that adventure makes it the wonderful piece of art that it is.

On the contrary, sometimes a story is final and does not need a sequel. I will use Colleen Hoover and her book Hopeless as an example of this (yes, I know I have used my two favourite books as examples – sorry, but they are both great writers and it just happens they have opposing but equally great reasons for doing what they did). Colleen has already said that she will not do a sequel for Hopeless, because Hopeless is left where Sky’s and Holder’s story is finalised and to write a sequel she would need to create more (unnecessary) dramas for them and she doesn’t want to do that – and I respect her for that.

As there is a companion book to Hopeless (Losing Hope), some people not see this argument as valid. I however do – for me it is a series when the storyline continues, and if you don’t read the sequel, you will never know the story’s conclusion. A companion is a book that you could easily not read and still not feel like you are missing a part of the story.. It’s like a spin-off (which will be another post) - it’s the cherry on top, rather than the whipped cream. :)

So my preference for standalone or series really depends on the arc of the storyline – as long as the author is doing what is best for that storyline, I am happy.

My only problem with a great series is the year or more between releases. It can be excruciating painful! Trust me, I know! The final of my favourite series (as above Daughter of Smoke and Bone) does not come out until April of 2014 – and I read second one in August 2012. It’s pure torture – but I would prefer to wait until the book is exactly what Laini wants it to be rather than reading a sub-par book and think “I know she can do better than that”… but yes, it is killing me!

Laini Taylor wrote an interesting post about series, about waiting for them and the importance of reading them as they come out rather than waiting for it be completed before embarking on it.

Melissa’s say:

For me, it entirely depends on the books I’ve read previously as to whether I want to embark on a new series (or continue one), or whether I just want to read a standalone novel.

Each have their purpose, and I have to admit, I love a good series as much as anyone else. The amount of detail and depth you can go into in a series is much less limited than you are with a standalone novel – not to mention those cliffhanger endings that some of my favourite series are known for. I feel like you’re able to emotionally invest and bond with the characters more in a series. We get to know their personalities, their idiosyncrasies, the way they think and act in turn on a much more intimate level than we do with characters in a standalone book in my opinion. And this is something that I really enjoy about series.

On the other hand, there’s such a thing as series burnout. And I know last year, SO many of the books I was reading was either book 1, 2 or 3 of a series at any one time. I suffer from a bad memory at the best of times and so when I start on a 2nd or 3rd book in a series, I am known to struggle for the first couple of chapters until it comes back to me. That’s probably the biggest issue I have with series.

Sometimes it’s nice to just read a book and know from start to end you’re going to get the complete story. Knowing you’re not going to have to wait another 12 months for the next installment is a good feeling and so there are times when I am burnt out from series where I turn to my standalones knowing I am going to get exactly what I want out of them. Some of the best books I have read have been standalone novels as well.

Ultimately I trust an authors opinion on whether they feel they’re able to tell a story best in a standalone book or a series. Very rarely do I read a book and not agree with their judgment!


We would really love your opinion on this topic - do you prefer standalone books or series? Please let us know in your comments below!

What do you think?

  • I think that if there’s a really good standalone, then I wouldn’t mind for it to be made into a series.. but if it’s a standalone FORCED into a series, well then.. that’s a BIG FAT NO NO! Honestly I prefer trilogies, they are not too short and not too long. I really hate it when authors drag the story if it’s better left as a standalone. I am also not liking the trending of series because I kinda want to read 1 book.. just a story that ends in 1 book. Also, a thought just came to me.. what do you guys think about companion novels? Are they excuses just for the books to become a series? Or do you prefer them since they have different stories, yet they parallel to each other?

    Little Book Star

    • Melissa says:

      Good point Leigh! A good example of a standalone that is getting a sequel (technically a companion but it will answer some questions for us) is Just One Day by Gayle Forman. It was never meant to have any type of follow on books, but due to demand Gayle is writing Just One Year.

      Companion stories in general I think maybe deserve a whole new post in another Feral Friday, what do you think? :D I have mixed opinions on this and could talk about that a lot. I know Kristy would be up for this too, so maybe we will talk about this in the next couple of weeks!
      Melissa recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #47My Profile

  • I think you both have great points. I agree with Kristy in that I wouldn’t want a single story split up between multiple books. It gets annoying and just sort of drags out. And I also agree with Melissa. There’s a time that even when it is appropriate for a book to be part of a series, it can be too much just because there are SO MANY being published that it’s hard not to get burnt out! So yeah, I think you both bring up great points.

    Just on my own, I have to say I’m sort of burned out. If a book has to be part of a series, that’s fine, I’ll trust the author’s opinion. But, I will say that I would at least like each book in a series to sort of be complete in it’s own way. No cliffhangers or lack of resolution whatsoever. I rather have it so if I don’t like the first book, I can just stop without too many hard feelings instead of feeling the need to continue on because I feel like I have no choice.

    • Melissa says:

      Oh I agree completely about the cliffhangers Asti! I struggle with these so much, especially when the next book in the series is usually 12 months away from the first one. Don’t do this to my emotions authors!

      I need some form of resolution in my books, but make me love it enough that I want more when the next one comes out. That’d be nice in a perfect world. ;)
      Melissa recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #47My Profile

  • […] Kristy and Melissa @ Book Nerd Reviews discuss standalone books versus series. […]

  • I didn’t know DoSB was actually a standalone! But yeah, I’ve read Laini’s post about it, and the way she describes series made me love them even more. But yeah, I agree, stretching out a standalone to make a series annoys me. A lot. Like for example, Unwind. It was supposed to be a standalone, and for a good four years it was, until on the fifth Shusterman released UnWholly. Frankly, I liked Unwind enough so I won’t bother picking up the second book. I just feel like it might ruin it for me.

    • Kristy says:

      I am a wealth of knowledge on Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Laini Taylor :) But it is one of those books I am extremely grateful turned into a series - there is just so much in there I would have hated to miss out on any of it!
      I haven’t read Unwind yet, but I understand why if you are happy where it finished why you wouldn’t want to read the sequel… sometimes things are better left alone.

  • I agree. It depends on the storyline. Some series are just done and the author needs to find out when to stop *Cough Cassandra Clare Cough* Some books just need to continue, because the story is not over. I’d rather have a series where everything is explored, than having everything shoved in my face because it has to fit in one book.

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Mel.
      I am currently reading the series you are referring too. I was unsure going into it, as I knew that was supposed to be a trilogy, then extended to 6. I have only read the first 3 so far, so I am still undecided on that one (and then there are the spin-offs which are another thing completely).

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