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I’ve been seeing quite a bit of talk from readers online about the prevalence of the trilogy in YA fiction these days. Talk that suggests that some people are getting frustrated with continuing stories, and would really like to see more standalone novels.

I was curious to see how much trilogies really are dominating YA right now, so I looked at a month’s worth of new releases. I found that an almost equal number of trilogy/series books and standalones were released. But there was one major separating point. Almost all of the standalones were realistic contemporary or historical. When it comes to fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction YA, it does seem that the majority of novels being published are part of a continuing story.

I can see a few obvious reasons for this. Speculative fiction is a lot more likely to lend itself to the sort of epic adventures that need to span multiple books than more realistic fiction. Building a futuristic or fantastical world, or a supernatural one overlaid with our own, can open up all sorts of possibilities for ongoing stories. And most of the successful speculative fiction YA writers may be looking to for inspiration right now, from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games, are trilogy or series books. But there are still lots of single-book stories that can be told in those genres… They just don’t seem to be being told all that often at the moment.

I can’t help the fact that I’m adding to this trend, because The Way We Fall was always just the first book in Kaelyn’s story, before I even started outlining it. But I do enjoy writing standalones just as much as continuing stories. My first novel, after all, was a standalone, and two out of the three projects I’ve been working on in between books in the Fallen World trilogy are standalones too. Which may be related to the fact that I usually prefer to read standalones. There are a few trilogies/series I really love, but I often find a story much more satisfying if it can be wrapped up in one book. And it does seem those books have been harder to find lately — I’m going back to books published a decade or more ago to get my speculative fiction standalone fix.

So I’m hoping the standalone fans out there can give me some reading recommendations! What are your favorite fantasy, paranormal, or SF standalone YA novels from the last five or so years? I’d love to check out more of the books that are breaking the trend.

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

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Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
olmue
Oct. 26th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater). Definitely stand-alone, and excellent.
megancrewe
Oct. 27th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
Have read, and did enjoy! :)
robinellen
Oct. 26th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
That's a tough one. I know Brian Faulkner writes stand-alones which are sci-fi-ish. Cat Patrick's books are stand-alones...that's all I can think of off the top of my head.
megancrewe
Oct. 27th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
I've read Cat Patrick's first book but only that one--I actually was disappointed to find out that one was a standalone because it felt like there was so much more story to be resolved! Heh. Will look into Brian Faulkner--thanks!
stephanieburgis
Oct. 26th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
Despite the fact that I usually prefer series, I really love Karen Healey's YA fantasy novels. Her first two are both (completely unconnected) standalones, Guardian of the Dead and The Shattering.
megancrewe
Oct. 27th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, Karen writes great stuff! I was lucky enough to get to read a draft of THE SHATTERING early on. :) Looking forward to her new one!
deenaml
Oct. 26th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'll preface this post by saying that with ALL series in my library, even Hunger Games/Twilight, Book #1 goes out a lot more than the others.

That said, the series/trilogy thing can sometimes be a pain when I'm buying books for my library. I only have so much shelf space, so it's hard to decide if I want to buy Book #2 or #3 for my shelves unless #1 was super popular/bestseller.

It's also much harder to weed when your shelves get full and say Book #1 has tons of check outs, but #2 and #3 have less and less....do I weed just #2 and #3? But what about that occasional reader who DOES want to read the whole series?

So yeah, I love stand alones too, and usually only read Book #1 of a series unless I'm OBSESSED with it (bc I have so many other stories/authors who I want to give a shot, like flipping through TV channels always looking for something EVEN BETTER!).

As for speculative stand alones to recommend....Suzanne Selfors does some (The Sweetest Spell and others), Courtney Summers (I think This Is Not a Test is stand alone), Jeannine Garsee (The Unquiet I think is single too), 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad which is a translation....it is tough to come up with these that I loved!
megancrewe
Oct. 27th, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed THIS IS NOT A TEST but haven't read the others you suggested--will take a look at them. Thanks!

And it's interesting to get a librarian's perspective. I'm not surprised book #1s would get checked out a lot more than the later books (like you, that's mainly how I read!), and I can see how it'd be hard to balance satisfying the readers who want to continue vs. shelf space. Do you have an interlibrary loan system? I think here they'd probably solve the problem by having most of the local library branches buy a copy of #1, but only a few #2 and #3, and then people who wanted the whole series could put holds on them to have them sent to their closest branch... but we have something like a hundred branches in our municipal library system so it's easy to handle things that way.
deenaml
Oct. 29th, 2012 02:57 am (UTC)
That is so cool that you can order books from around 100 branches! Our county system is linked up to about 30 libaries, and yeah, for $1 patrons can order books to be sent from another lib to their own branch. It is a good option for sure when space runs out! We often rely on the Central Library to hold onto things that we don't all have room for, but it's not a given and budgets have been tight.
jessica_shea
Oct. 28th, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
Ooh, interesting question! Looking at my reading lists, by far most of the standalones I read & love are contemporary or historical. But my most favorite is fantasy - my favorite book of 2011 in general was CHIME by Franny Billingsley!
megancrewe
Oct. 29th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
I've heard so many good things about CHIME--it's on my to-read list for sure. :)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books


Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014


The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012


The Lives We Lost
(Fallen World #2, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2013


The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014


Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014


Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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