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!
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.
Jasmine: REALLY? AMAZEBALLS.
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.
Jasmine: Oh, you know…
Juan: Uhm yes, we’re done here.
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!