For years, YA either came in a trilogy or in a standalone and everybody had mixed feelings on them. Trilogies allow readers to stay in a world they love with characters they love for a longer time, but trilogies can also be a letdown. We’ve all heard of Second Book Syndrome – the sensation of second books that just don’t hold up to the first book – and sometimes readers just can’t remember the first book or second book. Plus, there was always the dreaded occasion where a series was cancelled before it finished. Standalones are a complete entity, a beginning and an end, all in one package. But, it’s so much sooner that you have to say goodbye to beloved characters.
Recently, there’s been more and more variety in how books unfold. Duologies or quartets instead of trilogies. Some series even go beyond four books – five, six, on occasion, even further than that; we’ve all seen how the success of The Mortal Instruments series and the Throne of Glass series has lead to six book series, plus extras and spin-offs. These longer series give big fans more time with their favorite characters, but still have to fight against Second Book Syndrome and the forgetfulness of readers. Duologies, like the Dualed duology and The Wrath and the Dawn duology, are often a happy compromise between a trilogy or more and a standalone. Readers get more time with their favorites and don’t have to worry about a dragging book in the middle and are less likely to forget what happened. As a result, duologies seem to be coming more and more often.
Another more frequent YA occurrence are companion series. Each book in a companion series generally features different main characters. Sometimes, the characters all play a part in an overarching series, but readers get a different perspective (and often a new romance) to experience the story through. Other times, the characters in a companion series all exist in the same world, but don’t fully interact. The characters from previous books may appear in the newer books, but generally as side characters. This has the added bonus of being friendly to any reader – the previous books aren’t required reading before picking up the newest book, but readers who do might find little tidbits and nods to the previous books. One of the most well known companion series in YA is Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After from Stephanie Perkins.
Companion novels are also flexible. Most of the time, companion novels are labeled as a series on websites. On the other hand, authors like Becky Albertalli and Sarah Dessen write books that aren’t considered companions, but you’ll still see the characters from older books pop up in the newer books in some way or another.
Despite the new variety of book formats, there are still plenty of trilogies and standalones in YA to go along with duologies, quartets, companions, and whatever the names for those longer series are! What do you love to read and why? Tweet us @piquebeyond and let us know your feelings on the series vs standalone debate.