January 11, 2011

Talk to Me Tuesday (2).

This new fabulous meme is brought to us by Melissa at i swim for oceans.

Question: Do you prefer series or stand-alone novels and why?

Okay, awesome question, because I've been thinking about this for a while now, what with all the hubbub over paranormal romance/fantasy series. Thankfully I haven't run into many because I'm all for contemps, but still.

I will always prefer a stand-alone novel to a series. Always. For me, series rarely live up to their expectations (save for, you know, Harry Potter, which I adore). But the Harry Potter series is so developed, so thought-out, that a series was necessary; Melissa explains it best over in her answer!

I used to be the type that, when starting a series, felt the need to finish it, to read all of the later installments. Even if I disliked the first, or any in the middle. Case and point: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. It was one of the first series I really, really got into. But by the end of the second book, and a little into the third, I realized the story and storytelling was falling flat. But I plowed through the rest anyway, and just like I knew I would be, I was disappointed in the ending.

I fell into several similar series ruts after that. The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty, the Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston, the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, and even the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. Granted, I finished both the Jessica Darling and Joe Pitt series. But I have no interest anymore in finishing Julie Kagawa's series or Melissa Marr's series. Does that mean I'll never read them? No, because I probably will. But not right away. The point is series are no longer even able to maintain my interest and loyalty.

I know people have a beef with stand-alone novels trying to wrap everything together in a neat, tight little presentable package by the end. But not all stand-alone novels come together, and they don't always have precious, happy endings. And I'm okay with that, because I don't need stories to drag on. Of course, sometimes I wish they would, but in the end I feel like the characters had their time in their moment and in their place. There's no need to ruin that or switch it up - to do that, all I have to do is go find another book with another story with its own characters in their own moments and places. To me, this offers more, because I get a new story every time, and if I become frustrated with it, I can just move on to the next, which will have nothing to do with that frustration. Basically, I obtain a clean reading slate.

With a series, you don't get that clean reading slate. You're bothered by the same characters with the same problems, waiting for them to wrap it all up after however many installments. Sometimes they go over well, but more often than not they leave me hanging. Then when I'm finished I realize how many other stories I've been missing out on. I hate that feeling.

So for me, stand-alones all the way.


  1. I think it depends. I think some stories can't be contained in one book, and then I don't mind series. It bothers me when I see a story stretched thin into three books, or when I read the first book of a trilogy and I fail to see why we have to carry on for two more books.

  2. Perfect answer, Alissa! I think there is such a difference between contemps and fantasy/paranormal, so that definitely separates the genres in this context, for sure. I have to say that the penchant for series is extremely overwhelming, and while I love a good series, I want each book to stand alone. I want minor cliffhangers, not something that leaves me dying (literally) for more. I want to be entertained, but I want to feel complete with a book.

    Thanks for participating! :)

  3. Stand-alones, yes, for many of the reasons you said. See, here's the thing that I definitely agree with: I don't need the stories to drag on. I also don't want to be disappointed. And I frequently get disappointed. Case in point: I wish The Hunger Games had remained one book because it would have been a GREAT stand-alone. The problem? She ruined it for me with the third. The entire series was ruined for me with that book. I hate that. Same with Jessica Darling. OR what's worst is that I forget about a series or lose it because they're not all out yet. (This happened with Princess Diaries and with Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging.) I would have to re-read them to catch up and I don't have time for that.

  4. I agree with Tara, I think it depends on whether or not there is more story than can be told with a single novel. I'm huge on character driven novels, so I don't mind reading a series as long as the characters are evolving.

    Great post!

  5. I definitely don't like it when series drag on and they don't feel like they're going anywhere. For me, there has to be some kind of drive and a finishing point they're heading towards, and that must be (at least to some degree) conveyed to the reader.

    Definitely agree with you that Harry Potter could not have been a stand-alone, LOL!

  6. I don't really agree but i really liked your answer and get were your coming from.

    Come check out my answer if you get a chance: http://blackfingernailedreviews.blogspot.com/2011/01/talk-to-me-tuesday-series-vs-stand.html

    BTW: I'm now following you! ^-^

  7. I like your answer and the reasoning behind it. The only time I have trouble with a stand alone novel is when the pacing is wrong and the author tries to shove everything in it. I think there might a need for necessary sacrifices when telling a story that is going to be limited to one book. On the other hand, I have read books that should have been only one novel and somehow the authors (or maybe cause they were given the chance to do so) stretched the story beyond its elasticity and as such, sacrificed the entire thing. Not cool.

    I think the worst thing about a series is that the author finds it difficult to sustain interest in the same world and it ends up showing. I find that happening more in YA series than in the urban fantasy ones I read. I wonder why. Anyway. Sorry about the long comment.

  8. I think this depends a lot on the genre. I haven't really read many contemp series, and I don't think they'd go over as well.

    A genre like fantasy, or sometimes even paranormal, can have long story arcs with lots of conflict and questing. Those types of stories lend themselves well to series, I think, because the plot is large and complex enough to carry over that length. They also tend to be planned out from the beginning, so it isn't like the author is reaching and trying to drag on a stale or forced plot just so they can keep writing about their characters.

    I don't have a problem with dropping a book or series unfinished, so series don't bother me in that sense. I can definitely see how they would be infuriating if I felt the need to finish them even if I didn't like them.

  9. I totally agree! Series are nice but I like stand alones!

    I just wanted to stop by and say that I have given you and your blog The Stylish award! This is the link for the post:

    -Lulu the Bookaddict

  10. How is your Friday going? I'm a new follower. Check me out at www.phaedrashowandtell.blogspot.com


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