standalone books vs. book series (pros and cons of both)

standalone books

Choosing between reading a standalone book or starting a book series really depends on my mood, the genre, and the author. While there are many amazing standalone books and book series (I’ve been reading many standalones lately), I’ve noticed that both of them have pros and cons…

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standalone books

Standalones

Pros

1. There is a guaranteed ending

This means no cliffhangers and no need to wait until the next book comes out! 

2. Short commitment

You can just move on from the book and its characters which can be a good thing if you didn’t enjoy the story that much. 

Also, it can be a good thing if you are not sure about reading a specific genre.  For example, I first read “Heartless” instead of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I did this so that I could see if I first enjoyed fairy tale retellings before committing to a 5 book series with the same type of style.

3. No room for disappointment when reading the sequel

No room for disappointment if it does not live up to everything that was so amazing about the first book.

4. Straight to the point

Everything that is being told and that will eventually happen, will happen in the span of one book. There is no need for there to be a 300-page buildup that will eventually lead up to something that will happen in the next book. 

Also, there is no need to read about past events that will not contribute to the plot whatsoever. Only the information that is relevant will be included. 

Cons

1. Lack of bond/connection with the characters

With so many things going on in a book, it is more likely to connect to the characters within a book series. There are many exceptions AND this also depends a lot on the genre. 

I’ve noticed that it is more likely to connect with characters in YA, romance, or thriller standalones than it is with science fiction or fantasy standalones. 

Probably, this has to do with the fact that a lot of the time the plot is what drives a science fiction/fantasy standalone novel instead of the characters’ personalities and interactions. 

In YA and thrillers standalones, the characters and their interactions are what bring the story to life. AND what makes them (and the book) so memorable. 

2. “I want more!”

If you end up LOVING the book, you will not be able to read more about those characters and their adventures. Apart from re-reading, there is no other way to go into that world and explore it ever again. 

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Book Series

Pros

1. Complete immersion

There is a lot more time (and details) to understand how everything works and why some characters behave the way that they do. 

I love it when a map from a fictional world is included in a book series. It’s great to be able to have a visual image and go back to the map when reading the name of non-existent locations. Also, you get to actually see where the characters are headed. 

2. Character’s flaws and qualities

If book one is written from a 1st POV, then you will at least know that the main character is going to survive through the whole series. 

Either way, even if the series is written from a 3rd POV, there is enough time to create a bond with specific characters because of their experiences and personalities. 

3. Uncertainty

This ‘pro’ might be a ‘con’ for many people, but for me this is a great thing about book series. 

I don’t know if I may end up loving the main character, hating the love interest, or rooting for the antagonist. At first, I don’t even know if everyone is who they say they are. This type of character development is not usually found in standalone books. What I enjoy about this is that my perspective on events/characters can totally change from one book to the other. The journey of it (if it’s done well) is what makes a book series amazing! 

Cons 

1. The pace can change between one book and the sequel

The first book can have a lot of detail and many storylines that you think will be developed later on. BUT the sequel can have a very rushed ending and the plot does not live up to the initial expectation. 

In the worst case, the first book ends up with a cliffhanger and then you find out that the second book will not be written. (I’m so glad this has never happened to me)

2. If the series isn’t complete…

You will have to wait for months or even years until the next book comes out. By then (if you are like me), you will need a recap about everything (including details) that happened in the first book. Or you could read the first book again (which is something that I don’t normally do). 

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Re-cap: Standalone books or Book Series? 

With thrillers, YA, and historical fiction, I lean more towards standalones. There is no way, and it would be pointless if books like “Sadie”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, or “The Kite Runner” were part of a book series. 

 With fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia, I lean more towards book series. The detail needed is not enough for a single book. “A Court of Thorns and Roses”, “The Maze Runner”,  and “The Hunger Games” series would not be the same if they were standalones. 

standalone books

Your Thoughts and Recommendations:

Do you prefer standalones or book series?

I’ve read very few fantasy standalone books, do you have any recommendations?

  1. Marta @ the book mermaid
    30/05/2020

    I love both, and it certainly depends on the kind of book! For example, I’m more likely to accept a contemporary standalone, especially if the timeline is shorter, because it can focus on a short period of time and we get to know the characters well enough. I mostly read Fantasy though, and I get really attached to the characters, so I always want more! I also love getting to know the worldbuilding, and that’s something that takes time developing … Great post! 😀

    Reply
    • val @behindthatstory
      01/06/2020

      Yesss, I think that the kind of book plays a huge role when deciding to read a standalone vs. a book series! I enjoy fantasy much more when I’m reading a book series tbh. Also, I don’t like it when I get attached to characters in standalones cause I don’t get to read about them anymore 🙁

      Reply
  2. Alice @ Love For Words
    11/06/2020

    That’s such a good post!!! Every point you stated is so true!

    Reply
    • val @behindthatstory
      12/06/2020

      Thank you so much! It took me a while to write it hahaha.

      Reply

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