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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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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