Thursday, January 10, 2013

Curmudgeon's Corner: Novellas as interludes in series, Good or Bad thing?

The new popular thing in YA books is doing novellas in between sequels to a series. These are hidden scenes or stories that occur between books. Supposedly, this tactic is geared to keep fans interested and satisfied until the next true installment comes out, as well as usually giving a sneak peak to the first few chapters of the next book. I have mixed feelings about this, because if misused, it can take away from the story instead of adding to it.

Hana (Delirium, #1.5)Case in point. Both of the novellas that Lauren Oliver has written in the Delirium series fit this bill. The first is Hana, a novella written in the perspective of Lena's best friend. I was excited at first because I felt that Hana as a character had a lot of promise and wanted to see her perspective. What I got instead, was a retelling of Delirium in her point of view of things that we already knew about. The only thing different in this novella was the "surprise" ending, which was fine, but there was no build up and it made no sense. And honestly, what I really wanted to know is what her life was like between Delirium and Pandemonium after her cure. Also, I'd like the reason for this "twist."


Annabel (Delirium, #0.5)Her second novella just recently came out and takes place before the first book. It is entitled, Annabel, the name of Lena's mother. This novella is slightly better in the sense that we at least get the perspective of a character that we don't see very much at all, since Lena barely knows her. That said, again, we could have predicted most of what was told from her perspective, and Annabel ends up being not a very sympathetic character. Both of these novellas are extremely short and probably fit the short story category more than a novella category. There is a myth that you can't do very much in a short story form, but I would beg to differ. It's a smaller format, but you can really pull a punch in a smaller number of words.

Tortured (Birthmarked, #1.5)My last example of this, where this fails, is Tortured, a short story by Caragh O'Brien, which takes place between Birthmarked and Prized. We get the perspective of Leon, the man that Gaia has left behind as she runs away with her baby sister. He has been tortured by his father, and then gets ready to find Gaia. I'm not sure how this adds to the story at all. I think that it would have been more interesting to get the story of his actual journey to finding Gaia-- that's where the mystery is.


Indomitable (an Intangible novella)That said, there are two recent examples of how this gimmick really works and adds depth to the ongoing series. The first of these is Indomitable, a novella about Jonas, the vampire from the book Intangible by J. Meyers. Jonas is possibly the most intriguing character in the book and yet we get so little background about him at the time. This novella gives a whole back story of Jonas, what his life was like as a human, how he was turned, what his life was like as a vampire, and how he came to change into the person/vampire he is today. I felt like this novella really answered some big questions I had, told the story in a completely different perspective, and highlighted a fascinating character that we didn't know much about.


Neverfall (Everneath, #1.5)The second novella that I was incredibly impressed by was Neverfall by Brodi Ashton. Neverfall takes place after before and during Everneath as well as after Everneath. We get a completely new perspective from a very unusual and tantalizing character, Cole. We see some of his handiwork for what it really is, from his perspective, his true feelings for Nikki, and new reveals about Everlings not to mention a whole new group of creatures. I was impressed by how well this story was told, in a completely new perspective filled with both raw emotion and distinct humor. It was very clear that this was told by Cole. Furthermore, we learned new aspects of this world that we didn't know about before, and thus, this story enhances our experience of the trilogy. Because of this novella, I'm even more thrilled about Everbound, the follow-up to Everneath. Neverfall is a must read for everyone who reads this trilogy.


What do you think are the pros and cons to this short story/novella promotion of sequels?

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2. Bad Boys Rehab Giveaway Hop, Featuring Jason from Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock, giveaway of signed book and bookplates,  (INT) 1/10-1/18
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33 comments:

  1. I love this trend - it keeps us in the world we so love while waiting for the next book to be published :) Plus, I'm sure writer's create backstories for their characters that they usually just have to shelve, it must be satisfying for them to get a the chance to share them. Although, like you've said in your comment on Tortured the stories work best when they add a little something to our understanding...clearly not too much as that would make it difficult for anyone who hasn't picked up the novella...but I don't want to read something that feels disparate.

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  2. I am not a fan of this trend...I haven't read a ton of them yet, but the ones that I have seem more repetitive than anything. The same story told from a different perspective just doesn't do it for me. (This is part of why I hope Stephenie Meyer never releases Midnight Sun...I know, I know, the YA gods will strike me down.)

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  3. I really like the novellas in between series as long as the author is telling us something we don't already know. The last one I read was Elixir (Covenent #3.5) by Jen. L. Armentrout. It really worked for me because it gave us a new perspective (Aiden, instead of Alex) and told us what happened before Apollyon.

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  4. As an author I think it's a fun idea, but I wish there was a way to make it affordable to pub these shorts in paperback too. The vast majority of teens still do not use e-readers and until everyone has an iPad we're generating content that either will have to be read on a phone (not so enjoyable) or will be skipped over by many.

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  5. I think for really good books that when one comes out, you have to wait a year or more for a sequel, this is definitely a good idea. In between the time waiting for a sequel, I want to be able to have something that will help build up to the next novel= a novella! However, not all novellas end up gaining interest, some just aren't meant to be included in the book sequence.

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  6. I guess the success of this trend depends a lot on the author. Tim O'Rourke has done it twice in his Kiera Hudson series and has accomplished greatly due to him fulfilling the life of one main character who kept a lot to himself. Then he did a similar thing explaining what that character did during 24Hs he was gone from the main scenery. In other cases, I have disliked this since it took away the mystery from the main story, like when you have a secondary character who stays in shadows and you begin to get suspicious about them and suddenly, bam!..novella that shows your suspicions were right and all the mystery of the story is gone down the drain. I usually hesitate before buying novellas, but I will admit in some cases they add a lot to the main story.

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  7. I rarely read novellas. For me, it depends on the author and how much I like their books. If it's an author who wrote a series that adds to it with novellas, then I'll definitely read them, especially if I really enjoyed the series. Sometimes they give more insights, but I think some of them don't help the books, or give things away before you read them. But am I fan? Not really.

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  8. This is an interesting 'Rant' topic. I enjoy Novella's and feel that they add to the story as a whole and so i do read them. Ones such as "The short second life of Bree Tanner" which co-incides with the Twilight series by stephanie meyer, is a good example of one that adds to the series. I feel that the novella in-between the books sheds light on a different aspect of the creation, which as a fan of a series is a positive thing!

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  9. I love this "rant" of yours. Another novella, that I feel fits your bill of a *successful* novella is Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental. I haven't read her other ones, though, but I am pretty sure they follow Elemental's formula.

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  10. I never read those. Because I am afraid I don't like the rest of the serie.
    Maybe after I finished a serie?

    Mariska

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  11. I feel like if I read the first book in a series and then a novella comes out I feel like I am going back in the story rather then before, so I tend to read them after or not at all. I would prefer the 0.5 to be released before.

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  12. I have read a lot of these in between novelettes and find that they are merely character developments and usually they don't add much to the story. If they do, I think the author would do better to create a new edition of the original book to include more on said character.

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  13. I used to get excited about novellas! Now theI get irritated with these, especially since often times the 0.5 or 1.5 novella is coming out after book 3 or 4. So if I was starting the series after all of the books are released, I would need to search to find out if I am supposed to read the novellas in order or what. It just gets too confusing for me, and on top of all that, they never seem to add anything to the series.

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  14. I love reading novellas, I actually just finished reading a whole bunch of them. I particularly loved the prequels to Throne of Glass i thought they really added to the story and made me fall in love with the main character so much more.

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  15. I rarely read the novellas. I did get Tortured because I like the series and I wanted to know about Leon's journey in the wasteland, who found him, and how he ended up in Sylum's jail. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Another thing about novellas is that they are released in ebooks. It's annoying, to me, when I have a series in pb/hb and then have to get a novella in kindle format.

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  16. I am a fan of Novellas. I love seeing what happens in between books and learning more about the book characters.

    - Beckie

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  17. I'm a partial fan of Novellas. It's nice to have the background information or a story from a side character's POV.

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  18. I'm a little torn on this recently. Novellas are a great idea - but so many books these days are Series reads. And I'm becoming increasing overwhelmed by the amount of 2nd and 3rd or even 7th and 8th books in a series I'm trying to hunt down.

    Add to that, I'm not trying to read .5's inbetween the first and second books, and I'm losing interest. It's hard for me to keep up with all the books I'm supposed to read. When a trilogy becomes a 3 book, 3 novella & 1 prequal series, it's easy to see how quickly these series are getting harder to get through and harder to budget for (because most novellas are not free).

    *sigh* but there are may series that the novella worked for...so I'm torn. I like the new perspectives, I just wish there were more standalones to counter some of these series.....

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  19. I don't like the novellas. For instance, I LOVE the Elder Races series by Thea Harrison and have picked up every one of her full-length novels from our small local bookstore which I like to patronize whenever I can. Thea's novellas are only coming out as ebooks... which I can read... but they're quite short and for the length, I think they're priced high. I keep hoping she'll combine them and publish them. I'd pick that book up in a minute!

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  20. I love your post, very insightful! I'm the kind of reader who loves novellas. They keep us readers quite busy while waiting for the next book to come out. Also, novellas present some stories not included in the actual books that makes readers appreciate them more.

    - Diana @amalia_chartres

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  21. I sort of like the novellas in between other books in a series...that is as long as I know about them before I start reading the series. Since I prefer reading all the books in a series in order, I want to make sure I have them all before I start reading.

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  22. I really enjoy novellas, when they explain characters or plot twists deeper than in the main books. Some, admittedly, are just random (aka: Stephanie Meyer's novella The Short Life of Bree Tanner (or something like that) was just kinda random...probably only read by die hard fans, but left me wondering "why put all that effort into a blip of a character??). Some are really great and enjoyable, but some are just kind of unnecessary. Overall though, I think they're a good thing.

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  23. I enjoy reading novellas, because they sometimes reveal things the books in the series don't. As long as they're necessary, I don't think there's a problem with them.

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  24. I'm NOT a fan of this trend. If the author is well known the novella is usually published in an anthology. A waste of money since you usually get stories by authors you don't want to read. Some authors only publish these as ebooks. I read ebooks, but most of the time I buy paperbacks and I don't like it when I can't have all the books in a series on the same shelf.

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  25. Honestly I don't like the novella trend going on right now. I feel like it's just a huge marketing scheme and like you said it actually takes away from the sequel or what ever you are waiting on ya know? Also to me...and I am sure that is the point of novellas but to me they sometimes just leave ya hanging and I would rather send my money and have a thick book when the release finally comes out. I like the ype buildup of the actual book. It's a love/hate relationship really. I love the hype because usually it outlives the hype and hate it because sometimes you can get let down and I am impatient, LOL.

    This was a great post BTW!!!

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  26. I read the Hana one (rented from my public library about a month ago) and I was sadly disappointed in this novella. I don't like this trend with novellas. Maybe I just haven't found one worth buying yet or I am looking in the wrong places? I dunno, just my humble opinion!

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  27. I think novellas keeps the fans busy to fantasize the story till the next book comes. But most of the novellas are just a waste of money, means they contain just some flashbacks of the previous books and thats it. Most of the authors use this novella thing to fill the space and earn money.
    The whole thing depends on the content. If, the novella really continues the story or unfolds the secrets hidden in the previous book. So, then it is a happy read thing, I guess!

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  28. I do like the fact that they keep the story fresh in your mind. But I'm not too crazy about the fact that it seems like a waste of time sometimes. Like we have to buy an extra book just to get someone else's perspective? If it was that important, it should have been in the novel. Also I feel like, I'd rather just have the next novel faster! Don't waste my time writing me a novella lol.

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  29. i don't really like novella, i prefer reading books without novellas...

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  30. I think this is a good thing. I like it cause it adds entertainment for readers. And I also enjoy other POVS. =)

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  31. I think its a good thing as we can see more of the characters while waiting for the next book.

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  32. It usually takes a long time for books to come out so we readers need to have something to read meanwhile to keep us busy and interested in the series

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  33. I have mixed feelings as well. Honestly, I don't really read the little novellas in between sequels unless I really, truly like the series. So far, I've only read the novellas of ONE series xD haha :)

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