Standing On My Soapbox: Series vs. Standalones

Lookie here – two discussions in one week! I’ve been feeling rather opinionated in the last few days. Maybe it has to do with the types of books I’m reading. Oh well!

Today’s SOMS will be regarding series of books vs. standalones. This is mostly spurred on by the fact that in this last week alone I’ve started *counts on fingers* Oh. Only three. Well if you count two weeks that’ll make it five total (with one being a continuation of the Mortal Instruments series. If you’re wondering, here they are:

  • The Mortal Instruments (just finished City of Ashes)
  • Cracked (Soul Eater #1)
  • Freak of Nature (IFICS #1) 
  • Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) – and I’m betting by the time this post publishes I’ll have finished, if not come close to finishing, Siege and Storm (#2)
  • What’s Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1)

And that’s just a scratch on the surface of the series I’ve either begun, or plan to begin. If we were to list them all, we’d be here forever.

But this post isn’t to complain about how I’m stuck in the middle of a million different stories and I don’t have the money to buy the books to finish them. Though I could do that, if you want. 

I digress.

Which leads me to the actual point of this post: how do you feel about series? Do you love immersing yourself completely in a single world for several books, or do you prefer to world-hop, going from one stand-alone to the next? 

As for me, I’m conflicted. Seriously, deeply, tormented. In the very depths of my soul.

To use my most recent examples, I’ll start with the Grisha trilogy, the Soul Eater series, and The Hybrid Chronicles (neither of which I’ve reviewed yet). I’m completely sucked into both series, and in this case I’m thrilled that I can continue reading about these characters and all the lovely twists that come with them. I feel like there’s more to be told, and knowing how creative the first books were, I have a pretty good feeling that their sequels won’t turn to mush. Now, I may be proven wrong, but I’m willing to take that chance. 

Now, as far as the IFICS series and The Mortal Instruments series, I’m a bit ambivalent right now. They could swing either way for me. Freak of Nature (check yesterday’s posts if you want to see my full thoughts) was good, but the insta-love could turn into overwhelmingly too much romance in the sequel. And with TMI, I’ve heard mixed reviews for the books following City of Glass. I’ve really enjoyed the first two, and I’m almost afraid to keep reading because I don’t want them ruined!

And then there are those series that should have just stayed single. It’s okay to be a nun sometimes – don’t let the world tell you different. The Program by Suzanne Young comes to mind. I know it’s only going to be a duo (at least I hope), but it really should have been a stand-alone. It was a great book, don’t get be wrong, but as I was nearing those last twenty five pages and realizing that it wasn’t going to resolve, I had that bitter taste in my mouth and a sinking feeling in my gut. Sometimes it’s okay to not be a trilogy, folks!

What’s that you say Kayla? No… A stand-alone is too easy!

So this turned into far more of a rant that I expected, and even I don’t really know my point anymore. I’ll try to salvage this by saying my peace in *hopefully* one sentence: I love a series, especially when it’s with a good fantasy concept, but sometimes enough is enough. Let’s turn away from this series addiction, shall we? There is yet hope for the YA genre.

Maybe you can make some sense of my ranting, and throw in your own two cents. How do you feel about series? Do you prefer a series or a stand-alone? Does the genre affect your opinion (for me, if it’s contemporary fiction, I read exclusively stand-alones most of the time)? 

Standing on my Soapbox is an at-least-once-a-week feature here on The Thousand Lives, usually posted on Thursdays, wherein I discuss whatever’s been on my mind, bookish or not.

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17 thoughts on “Standing On My Soapbox: Series vs. Standalones

  1. I’m trying to limit the number of series books I read, mainly because then each book leads to a lot more books I need to read, and I like to mix it up. Also I think most stand-alones are written better than most series books. More plot and character development because you have to work it all into one book.

    • Yes! I’m in the middle of so many series right now, just because I forget about them and pick up something else. One day I’ll have to just fill up my cart on Amazon will all the series I need to finish and just order the darn books.

      And that’s true – in a series you can always let a few things slide because you can pick them up in the next book. Great point!

  2. I guess I don’t have a preference for stand-alones vs series. Usually, I love reading series because I love having a fully developed setting, and often times I am not ready to say goodbye to the characters after just one book. But, sometimes I really love stand-alones because everything gets tied up nicely and it is a satisfying read. I do love series of stand-alones, where each book features different characters, yet is ultimately telling one huge story, like The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta or Katie McGarry’s books.

    I really can’t stand series that drag on though. *cough The Mortal Instruments cough* Sorry to say, but for me, the books after City of Glass took a definite turn for the worst. The best series are the ones that tell the story but leave some ambiguity to keep the books alive.

    • Another series like that is the Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima – all separate but they tell one big story arc.

      Ahhh man that’s what I’ve heard from everyone… I’ll make sure I savor CoG then. HOLD ON TO THE BEAUTY.

  3. I feel you, before I started a book blog I straight up REFUSED to read series that weren’t completed because I didn’t want to wait for the next release and forget about the story. I’ve changed that now, but it still bothers me when I forget all the details in a series!

    • That’s happened to me to! If I ever decide to read Inheritance (the last book in the quartet that started with Eragon), I’ll have to read Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr all over again so I know what’s going on!

  4. I don’t like have so many series going at one time. I like having a resolution. Right now I’ve got four series left to finish (three of which have books that aren’t released yet, so there’s nothing I can do about them), and I’ve only got two finished series under my belt, one of which isn’t so much a series anyway.

    Maybe this is the cynical side of me coming out here, but I can’t help but wonder if so many books are being made into duologies or trilogies because it means more $$$! I hope not, but when so many books could have been condensed down into one, better book, it seems like that is a big factor in publishing. 😦

    • See – that’s what I should be doing. But I can’t, so I shan’t.

      And I think the same thing sometimes 😦 Especially in the case of The Mortal Instruments – I’ve heard a lot of the same sentiment regarding the books after City of Glass. That the story should have ended, and it’s just Clare milking the story for what it’s worth for the money.

      I try not to consider that though, and keep my favorite authors in the best light. But sometimes… if the truth is right in front of me, it’s hard to deny it.

  5. I am conflicted like you too. I LOVE series, but also at the same time I don’t. That sounds very contradicting right? I think it’s because i absolutely love some series while others I believe shouldn’t be series because they are boring me. Like after a whole I feel like the author has milked it too much. I love stand alones! But again, sometimes things are so unresolved I at least want a duology. This is all very complicated. Also, when should we get together?! I’ve been dying to go to Barnes and Nobles!!! >_<

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  7. This. This is the story of my life, as far as series and standalones are concerned. I like to think that I don’t have a preference for either, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m wrong for saying that. I love books of all kinds. And if, like you said, I’m completely and utterly immersed in that book’s world, that of course I’d want to continue in it with a series. But then, I think about the other books that I didn’t really like, or felt averagely about, and then I realize that I wouldn’t mind much if I didn’t complete the series. What’s the point? I don’t really want to waste time reading something that wouldn’t totally blow my mind away. And in that sense, I guess I’d wish that the book was written as a standalone instead, so that all conflicts could be resolved without need for future books.

    See? Isn’t that such a horrible mentality to take on?

    And then, there are the books that work well as a standalone: they have a great ending that satisfies, mostly all loose ends are tied up, and even if there are still some stuff left unresolved, it doesn’t bother me much, because they’re unimportant. But then — BAM, the author announces that there will be a sequel, maybe even two. When that happens, I find myself thinking that the publishers and authors are only doing this to get more money. Which is horrible of me, I know. I’m also beginning to wonder if series — especially trilogies — are starting to become a “trend.” Ever since THG, trilogies have been popping up all over the place, most commonly in the YA genre. If that’s the case, then I’m not sure I prefer trilogies anymore, because that means that authors are trying to copy one another to get the audience’s attention. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just wish there was more originality, that authors and publishers will be less afraid to take risks, instead of following the flow.

    I guess this makes me sound like I prefer standalones, but in all honesty, I don’t even know myself! I suppose it really depends on what kind of book I’m reading, and how much I liked it…

    • I love how all the comments sum up exactly what I’m trying to say, but in so much better sentences. Seriously – this is perfect. Like, I have no words. Just a constant nod of agreement. Preach it!

  8. Gosh, I’m so conflicted on series vs. standalones – like the other commenters. The thing is, I have ‘book hangovers’ when I read books I absolutely love and I just walk around for a day or two after I’ve finished them snapping at anybody who tries to even remotely interact with me because I’m SO CAUGHT UP IN IT… even after it’s already done. And it gets even worse when I finish a series I love…

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