Kernels of Nonsense is an originally weekly post here at A Kernel of Nonsense where I ramble about different book-related topics. I had another topic ready to go but after reading what I had written, I found that it lacked focus, so I decided to tackle this topic instead. Today I will be lamenting about the death of standalone novels in YA literature.
I read a lot of YA, not exclusively but I’d say a good 90% of the books I pick up belong in this genre (I hate calling YA a genre, but that’s probably a topic for another time). With the success of series like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, it seems that every author is writing trilogies or long series these days.
What happened to standalone novels? What happened to being able to pick up a book, finishing it in one sitting and afterward feeling completely satisfied without having to wait to pick up the next book? This doesn’t seem possible anymore. Instead we are forced to wait and spend on absurd amount of money for one story.
I love plenty of series out there and am eagerly awaiting the release of new books in several series coming out this fall. If I told you how many book releases I’ve pre-order for this upcoming season, you’d be shocked. I’ll spare you the surprise and me the embarrassment. I love spending time with characters I’ve fallen in love with and being able to continue the journey with them. Reading a series can be equal parts agony and joy. Sometimes the long wait between books can take away from the whole experience. I often find myself wrapped up in other books when the second book in another series is released, but by then my former excitement seems like a distant memory. It then becomes necessary to reread the previous books or take the risk, plunge into the new book and hope the details of the first or second book come magically flooding back.
You ever play the card game Uno or Crazy Eights? If you don’t have a card to put down, you have to keep picking up from the pile until you have a card you can play. Ever run out of luck and nearly pick up the entire deck and suddenly the cards in your hand are slipping because it isn’t possible to hold all these cards at once? This is what it feels like when I’m trying to keep track of a ridiculous amount of series.
Sometimes you get the feeling that many series could have worked better as a standalone novel and I’m not sure if it’s the author’s desire or the publisher’s that pushes them to write three books instead of one. You can tell a complete story in one novel, you can create memorable characters and a reader can become just as emotionally invested than if you were to write a series. There’s a small part of me that wants to say that you risk losing readers if it takes you more than one book to tell your story. I won’t say this definitively, but I have given up on a few series midway because the second book fails to match the first in quality.
Standalone novels are becoming a rarity and I for one like the feeling of picking up a book and knowing when the last page comes the story will be complete, a year will not pass before I get to find out what happens to these characters, and down the road I will not have to pray desperately that my memory will work when a new book in the series is released. I just took a look at my bookshelves and it’s clear that I need more standalone novels in my life.
1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
2. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
3. Chime by Franny Billingsley
What do you think of the disappearance of standalone books in YA literature? And if you don’t read YA , is the standalone novel becoming extinct in adult and middle grade books as well? And please, if you will, share your favorite standalone novels in the comments below.