It’s an age-old debate: which are better series or standalones.
And when it comes down to it, it is a personal opinion. But this is something I’ve been thinking about as I keep seeing the question pop up on those little quiz things on Instagram stories. Both are great, but why do some people prefer series and others standalones? It can be tied to genre preferences for sure. A romance series unless it follows multiple characters can get a bit samey, but a standalone fantasy book doesn’t always hold the same impact with world-building due to page space.
Both standalones and series have their merits, and I decided that I wanted to talk a little about them and see what you all think!
My personal preferences lean a little more towards series. I enjoy diving into fantasy and sci-fi settings, and I feel these often work best in series. A lot of my favourite books are part of series so this obviously works for me. And generally, the polls and things that ask about series or standalone preferences, series do tend to win out.
So why is this?
I think a lot of it stems from the story being spread out a little longer. We fall in love with the characters and the story in book one, and we often want to see more of them. Series allow us to do that, and to see several different plots played out under a larger story arc. We get plenty of time in these worlds and unless every book in a series is majorly thick… We often don’t feel as bogged down by them as we would if this trilogy was told across one book.
Series can also allow us to explore different characters across these stories and worlds we love. More contemporary series often follow multiple characters. And while this means that each book can be read as a standalone, when they’re read together readers can often make connections. These little easter eggs are definitely a bonus. They can be super fun and I can see it as a reason why people might pick up a whole series rather than just a single volume of it.
I think the general appeal of a series really is the amount you can get from it. You’re in the world and with these characters longer. You have more excuses for rereads – new book coming out? Better catch up on the others first etc – and you can find more aspects that you love in them. Series are great for giving you something to really sink your teeth into.
Standalones are definitely a type of book more popular within contemporary genres. Most of the books that I love that are standalones are chick-lit or thrillers. Though there are definitely other genres on that list too. A standalone is great because you get the complete story then and there. If you pick it up brand new you’re not waiting for sequels and the end of the book is the end. There are no frustrating loose ends- or there shouldn’t be – and you’re left with just a good book that you read and enjoyed.
I think one of the appeals of standalones is definitely time. Even if it’s a thick standalone, you’re going to get through it quicker than you would a series. There is less time with the characters and world, but the plot is usually more present from the start. You’re not going to have as many side characters and arcs so you get to focus on the story that drew you in from the back of the book. This doesn’t mean you don’t ever see side-arcs, but they tend to be a little less of a tangent, a bit more of a view into the character’s lives.
Because these books tend to be more contemporary as well they tend to be easier beach or holiday reads. If you’re away somewhere or even just have a few days off at home, a standalone is an easy book to pick up and get through. Even if you have to keep putting it down to do other things, you know by the end of the time off you’ll have completed a story. And you’re not going to be staying up too late the night before you have to go back to school or work as you just have to start the next book now.
I basically feel that standalones are preferable to people who might take a little longer to read a book or just want a quick jolt of completion. You have a beginning, a middle and an end and it’s all in one book then done. Whether it took you a day or a week, you’ve gotten through a story and then you can move onto something completely different. If you’re a mood reader who reads a lot of different genres, this is definitely something that could appeal as you can more easily fit variety into your TBR. You can pick up a book of one genre then move onto something completely different, rather than being bogged down by more of the same.
Why Not Both?
Well, generally as readers, we do read both. There’s always tempting new series and standout standalones out there. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who only read series or only reads standalones. Let me know if I’m wrong, but I think we can all agree that both are good, even if we do still have our preferences.
Sometimes you just need a mix of genres, or book lengths, or even just more generally a mix of series and standalones. Both definitely appeal for different reasons.
What I want to know is which you prefer and why? And if you prefer one, are there some examples of the other that you adore. For example, I prefer series but I adore standalones like We Just Clicked by Anna Bell. I’m also starting to be a fan of YA thrillers and I think they definitely tend to work better as standalones.
So there you go. Series and standalones are both a lot of fun, I just want to know your opinions!