Day of Debate: Series And Stand-Alones

Day of Debate

This is a feature my brother came up with— wherein we tackle certain topics on books, young adult or not, and give you guys the low down on our opinions of them (which, mind you, generally differ). I’ll be encoding our conversation, and if you guys have any opinions of your own on the topic, or on the heated discussion, feel free to once again make my day and comment!

My brother is seventeen, a college sophomore, approximately one year and two days older. His name is Juan (that’s pronounced like the number, one), and he’s my best friend. No matter what anyone else says.

This week’s idea came from a comment-suggestion by Asti @ A Bookish Heart and Chiara @ Books For A Delicate Eternity, who posted her own thoughts on this issue a while back. Thanks for the inspiration!

Design A

Jasmine: So…. It’s the Day of Debate! Woohoo!

Juan: WOOHOO! Partyin’ partyin’ YEAH! *confetti bomb*

Jasmine: …Calm yo tits, my friend. Let’s cut to the chase– what are your opinions on series and stand-alones?

Juan: I prefer… stand-alones.

Jasmine: Fine, then! I (like so many others) prefer series.

Juan: I walk a lonely roaaaaaaad….

Jasmine: EARTH TO JUAN. Why do you prefer stand-alone novels, then?

Juan: Well, I like investing time in character development. Even if the writing is virtually impeccable, readers just won’t get a character they’ve known for five seconds. That being said, those in series are given way too much attention, and sometimes get boring. Some of them even deteriorate, and that’s ironic, since the point of a series is to give to the reader a chance to witness their development over a span of multiple books.

Jasmine: Let me just break that statement down– I agree with you that readers need to be given ample time to connect to the characters and understand what makes them tick, but I don’t agree that the “deterioration” of sorts is necessarily a bad thing, unless its a lost cause. Think about it: many of the heroes and heroines undergo crises and struggles that threaten to break them apart at the seams, and it just so happens that sometimes, they fall apart. What’s important is getting to pick themselves up, and I find it enjoyable and rewarding to go through that process with them. Sometimes, evolution is emphasized subsequent to devolution, if that even makes any sense. As long as the series doesn’t drag, all is well.

Juan: But that’s the thing. So many series drag. Look at Percy Jackson: Riordan even made a sequel to the entire series, and Cassandra Clare, that infernal author who wrote that infernal book that keeps on mysteriously popping up on my shelf (SORCERY!), is planning on writing yet another Shadowhunter series, the Dark Artifices. And then after that, she’s squeezing in a fourth between TID and TMI, and then another sequel to TDA, for a sum total of, oh hey, FIVE series. YA HEAR ME? FIVE.


Juan: Clearly, the temptation is too great. Anyway, back to Percy Jackson. Annabeth and Percy’s chemistry is so humdrum, it’s almost completely platitudinous. They already reached the peak of their character dynamic prior to The Heroes of Olympus, and now, it’s basically perfect love reciprocated. Where’s the fun in that? But don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to limit my examples to romance. Josh and Sophie’s bro-sis relationship from The Immortal Nicholas Flamel is another example– Josh doesn’t trust Nicholas, and Sophie disagrees with him. Every freaaakin’ book. Tell me, tell me, tell me something I don’t know.

Jasmine: BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Love that Selena Gomez reference. *fistbump* And no, Percabeth is NOT boring. I refuse to accept that.

Juan: What reference? Well anyway, you should get the point. Series drag, add so many unnecessary plot twists, like Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows for example (yes I just went there. Sue me). Suddenly, if you wrestled this magic wand from this magic dude,  said wand magically gets to be property of your magic ass. Great. Where did that come from? Trust me, there are so many other series out there guilty of this. Even you can name me some.

Jasmine: Ohohoho, you dare revile Harry Potter’s sacred name? HAHA half-kidding. Fine, sometimes, the lengthier series get way too routine and predictable. It sometimes feels as I’m waiting for them to just end already, because the sequels bring nothing new to the table (hellooo, House of Night, Anita Blake. I’m watching you). On the other hand, trilogies like The Infernal Devices and The Grisha feature books that get me increasingly excited for the next one, despite the fact that the second books tend to be the most mediocre, since they’re neither the grand opening nor the grand finale. I just prefer being given the chance to dig deeper into the world within the book, and sometimes, stand-alones just leave me wanting for more, which is bothersome. It’s prone to insta-love too, since authors have to jam the entire relationship between the pages of a single installment. And yes, I always have to talk about love. I’m a romantic, forgive me. Now mind your own business.

Juan: Wasn’t commenting! But hey, since all I’ve been doing is dissing series, I shall now defend stand-alones. Apologies to all you series lovers out there (though I love a few series too. Such rarities). When an author is capable of introducing you to an alien realm you embrace and want to immerse yourself in, even without a sequel, he’s good. Authors like John Green, Jay Asher, Morgan Matson, Neil Gaiman, Cornelia Funke, and even Robert Galbraith are good. World-building isn’t about the flashy reference or the inclusion of every little detail. It’s about symbolism and understanding the dynamics of the world the characters live in– you don’t need a sequel to accomplish this, really. And to counter your argument on insta-love, even though I couldn’t care less, that’s only if the authors don’t have enough of a sense of pacing to make the romance feel authentic. That is all.

Jasmine: While I agree that you don’t require a sequel to make the world-building effective, I’m also not against using it for that purpose. I get the point that stand-alones are just the perfect marriage of time and depth to make any one reader fall in love with a book. Don’t get me wrong either, I have nothing against them– in this matter of contention, however, I do prefer books in series, because there’s more of a chance to understand the characters and the macrocasm they comprise, and I do believe that the feeling of getting to finally read a sequel to a book after a long, perilous wait is irreplaceable. But of course, it depends on the reader.

Juan: Fine! Heaven knows I can’t sway you on this one. Are we done here?

Jasmine: Yes, my young padawan. Now go forth and multiply.

Juan: How?

Jasmine: Oh, you know…

Juan: Uhm yes, we’re done here.

Design A

So what do you think?  Have any suggestions? Criticisms of the constructive variety? Life changing praise?  Comment if you do! 😀

P.S. We’d appreciate suggestions on future topics!



34 thoughts on “Day of Debate: Series And Stand-Alones

  1. I very much enjoy the format of this. Specifically focusing on the actual point of the debate, stand-alones and series have certain things about them that can make them or break them. All negative and positive points in this debate are valid. I see the negative things as risks more than anything. Going into writing, there is a risk of all those negative aspects whether you are writing a stand alone or a series. I agree that both are more prone to have different flaws, but it is possible for all flaws to be in both stand alones and series. Personally, I can not pick a definitive side because I can praise and criticize both sides. My favorite and the strongest points of this debate were probably the symbolism which could be translated as a positive for both sides, and the character development. This however can also be given as a positive and negative on both side. Whether it is said that it doesn’t give enough time in a stand alone or too much time in a series, they are all very good points. You should definitely do more of these.

    • Thanks so much! Yes actually, I don’t really have definitive side to this either, since I read series and stand-alones alike. Like I said though– I think series books have more positives to them, so I possess an inclination toward reading series 🙂 I’ve read a lot of good stand-alones though, especially the John Green and Morgan Matson ones (would even like to read some Rainbow Rowell)! I guess it also sort of depends on the genre, since many of the contemporary books I love are stand-alones, though I much prefer, fantasy, honestly. And I’m glad you liked the points we brought up!

  2. I like both, I do sometimes think that series can drag, I sometimes feel that the next ones were written just for the sake it, which is bad. But I do sometimes feel that stand alones leave you wanting more. Have you ever read Graceling by Kristin Cashore? It’s the best of both worlds, it is a stand aline book but has a sequel Bitterblue (different main character). and a kinda prequel Fire, which is set in a country over and only one character crossover who is not even mentioned much. So you get to keep returning to the world you love but also new characters to explore.

    • Cool! 🙂 I think the series that tend to drag are the lengthier ones, with around ten to twenty books. I usually get lazy to read them, and it kind of eludes me how authors expect to keep me on my toes for something that’s been going on (repetitively) for multiple books. I think Cassandra Clare’s strategy of breaking the Shadowhunter world down into many series instead of into one huge one is great, since we get to explore many different characters and time frames, so the uniqueness is preserved 🙂 And yes, I loved Graceling! I like that example 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

      • I have started City of Bones but not finished it, I cannot seem to get into it, it’s my usual type of book, so not exactly sure, probably just one of those things.

      • I haven’t started with City of Bones, although I loved the Infernal Devices. I’m not even sure I want to start anymore, since there are 6 freaking books to that series. Maybe I’ll just wait for the movies, or skip that one altogether and wait for the Dark Artifices instead 🙂

  3. My current aversion to series has nothing to do with the ACTUAL series – I love a series when it’s well done – but I’m just tired of investing so much time and energy into a story and characters when there are so many other great stories and characters out there that I want to meet and experience! So I’m currently into standalones if for no other reason than I get to read more. Also, like dystopia and paranormal romance, I’ve grown tired of series because it feels like authors are once again jumping on a marketable bandwagon to upsell as much as they can. If you write a good story in one book, that should be enough. Don’t stretch it out just because that’s the current trend and run the risk of ruining the story you had to begin with. *Gets down off soapbox.*

    • Wow, I think I get it now! 😀 I don’t think though, I’ll ever feel an aversion to the idea of series books as a whole, since I find it enjoyable to invest MY time in energy in a story world I myself love to live in. However, I do think stand-alones can be advantageous in that they allow you to delve into many other stories and meet many other characters 🙂 I’m not exactly against the dystopian and paranormal bandwagon either, unless of course, the entire plot seems to have been based of off another dystopian or paranormal romance novel. They have to have at least SOME originality! That’s why its quite irksome to see the “for fans of…” phrase D: I guess it’s fine to want to “stretch it out”, but I do agree that if the author does that only because its the trend, then it doesn’t seem worth it. However, if I really loved a certain book, more often than not I’d feel the want to extend the story. So as you can see, I’m a bit torn. Haha! Thanks for stopping by Kristin 🙂

      • Yeah the “fans of” marketing strategy made my top ten list of book turn-offs. I think most people’s feelings towards series vs. standalones is on a pendulum swinging this way and that depending on their mood, current trends, and the quality of current series/standalones out there.

  4. Can I have your brother? Pretty please? I’m tired of all of these guys who don’t read in my school. Beside, we both live in the Philippines, so it would be easy. 😀
    As for the debate, I wouldn’t mind any of the two, as long as its good. But I’m currently favoring stand-alones more. There’s just something satisfying about reading a book without having to bother with the next one.

    But with a series, the biggest problem is that the ending wouldn’t do justice to the story. And I’m going to be frustrated that I invested so much time into it.

    That, and some series just feel like a scheme to earn more money, like Cassandra Clare. Sorry, but I’m with your brother on this one. I think it’s about time she does something else besides Shadowhunters.

    • Oh, my brother would love to hear that XD Okay then, if he agrees, then maybe you can meet him. HOORAY FOR FILIPINOS! Yeah, I think that little statement sums it all up: I wouldn’t mind any of the two, as long as its good. I actually get the satisfaction behind finishing a book, and genuinely finishing it, because you won’t have to wait for the next installment, although in my case of course, I find satisfaction as well in getting to read the next books to a series I love 🙂 Although now that you’ve mentioned it, it does seem a whole lot of frustrating to have put up with a series that doesn’t end well. I’d feel betrayed D: It’s fortunate though, that I haven’t come across a series that didn’t end well for me. I guess that contributes partly to my love of series books! HAHA, I can’t blame myself for loving the Shadowhunter world and just wanting more of it, and I’m not even sure if Cassie Clare’s doing it for the money or because she knows many people have grown to love her Shadowhunter world. We’ll see! But of course, it would be more than refreshing to see her write a novel not related to any of that.

  5. Great and fun debate as usual:) I don’t mind series, although lately trilogies have become a sort of trend and most trilogies would have been better as standalone or duology. With those sort of books a trilogy drags the story out and makes it boring.

    • Oh my brother is on a roll! XD I actually prefer a lot of the shorter series, like duologies or trilogies, though it HAS crossed my mind that some of the trilogies would have worked as stand-alones. I’m still not complaining though! As long as the book is good in essence, and doesn’t drag unnecessarily, all is well 😀

  6. I do read a lot of series… What actually made me get into reading series but Twilight and then Vampire Academy, but I do prefer stand alones to series. I’m with your brother Juan on this one. About 80% of my books are stand alone novels. 🙂

    • You seem to like vampires! 😀 I preferred Vampire Academy a hundred times over Twilight though, but even I am not sure if my thoughts are clouded by a complete aversion to the movie adaptations D: On the flip side, most of my books are series. Maybe I should try opening up to stand-alones more. Tell me if you have any recommendations then? 🙂

      • I’m not the biggest fan of twilight either but it did get me into reading series. I did read the series before the first movie even came out so, that could be why I enjoyed the books more than most people. Before I recommend, what are your tastes? Do you like romance? Dystopian? Contemporary? Murder mystery? 🙂

      • HAHA yeah I gave up on Twilight after reading Twilight 😦 I read it before I watched the movie too, and I guess it didn’t bother me at that point. I still do think it was the movie that swayed me against it though. That was just horrible 😦 And as for my tastes… I love romance, but in moderation, and I have an inclination towards anything dystopian (and I mean the genuine kind), anything fantasy, paranormal, alien, out of this world, you name it. Haha! I do read contemporaries though! But never in series. That will make me lazy D: I don’t like many mysteries either, because I tend to get lost 🙂 I don’t read New Adult either, because they make me uncomfortable XD

      • Girl, you’re making this hard for me… jk! Well ave you read any books by Sarah Ockler? If you haven’t I recommend you start with The Book of Broken Hearts. The title is a little misleading. Impossible by Nancy Werlin is another one. It is a stand alone paranormal novel. I’m gonna do some more research and get back to you. 🙂

      • Haha ohyay! I’m sorry XD I haven’t read anything by Sarah Ockler, but I’ve heard about that book. Actually been wanting to read it for some time now 🙂 I’ve never heard about the Nancy Werlin one, but I’d love to try out a paranormal book! Thanks so much!

  7. Hmmmmmmmmmm. I love both, but maybe series a bit more? I mean, what if I’m introduced to an amazing character and then all I have is one book with them. I mean, for example, if The Raven Boys didn’t have a sequel, I would have been in a very foul mood – no more Ronan? No more enthusiastic Gansey, smudgy Noah and prideful Adam? No more Ronan? No more Blue and her psychic family? No more Ronan? And it’s like that with so many other books.

    But John Green’s books (at least the one’s I’ve read) always end perfectly. And My Life Next Door, one of my favorite books (that happens to be a stand-alone AND a contemporary, which I avoid like the plague), ended perfectly, too.

    So… I love them all. But when I’m introduced to a character I end up loving, I’ll most likely wish the book will have a sequel so I can enjoy more. I’m no help at all in this .____.

    • WOOHOO hooray for The Raven Boys! I agree as well that if that didn’t have a sequel, I’d feel bad for my life in general. Ronan was complete and utter love ❤ Okay, so I'm fangirling, but I do believe that if I found any one character in any one book amazing, I'd end up wanting to read more of them. If not, I'll just reread that same book a hundred times over XD I think the John Green books are amazing too, even if a lot of them feature tragedies. I'm not entirely against contemporary, but I do tend to get nitpicky when it comes to that. And of course you helped! Glad you agreed too. Thanks for stopping by Eve~

  8. As usual, I enjoyed this Day of Debate. I think both series and stand-alones have their place, but I do certainly appreciate when an author can say everything she/he wants to about one story in one book of dragging it out. One series that I have to say I really enjoy the structure of though is Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, since she focuses on a new character each time.

    • Thank you Amy! Yeah, it’s great when an author gets to pull off a series, especially a lengthy one. I think only Harry Potter has managed that, with all the books I’ve read 😀 I’ve read Cinder, and LOVED IT, but I haven’t read any of the other books in the series. I would love to, though!

    • I haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles yet (I know!!), but a series that doesn’t focus exclusively on one character but still takes place in the same world with previous characters making cameos would be appealing!

  9. This is such an interesting debate topic and I love the format. I really do prefer standalones, although of course I love some series to death. I think series have become more popular recently so that book publishers can capitalize on the success of the books. This is why cliffhangers are so popular, but I despise them.

    • Thank you Audrey! 🙂 It actually kind of makes me feel bad that some authors would capitalize series only for the sake of capitalizing on the success, although if the series is good enough for me to love it to death (HAHA love that), I’d have a hard time believing they didn’t put time and effort and really made it amazing for the sake of the readers. I don’t like cliffhangers, either. As in at all D:

    • Thank you Ariella! Yeah, that ending kind of got awkward. I was relieved when he told me were were done. HAHA. Anyway, I understand why it’s hard to choose sides. I read both myself! Since you have less stand-alones though, I’m guessing you’re more of a series reader like me 😀 I have quite a few of them on my shelf though, that I really love 🙂

  10. I kind of agree with your brother (sorry)! But that may just be because I haven’t come across a series that I was really excited about in a long time. Most of my favourite recent reads have been stand-alone titles.

    A series is okay if it furthers the story or gives us something brand new to think about in each book or develops the characters over a longer period of time. But I think nothing bothers me more than series for the sake of series, when subsequent books are so weak that you know they were just published to make money.

    • Yeah, well there are many stand-alones that are good simply because they’re not accompanied by weaker titles 😀 Actually, I’ve come across more exciting series than stand-alones, so I guess that also helped direct my preference– but of course, it’s sad to think that some authors would write a series just for the sake of making it a series, like you did mention. That’s not even right D:

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