What’s a Series?
Sometimes we assume that everyone has the same perception of things as we do, and when we realize that others see things a bit differently it always makes me wonder what’s right and what’s wrong. I had a conversation with a friend of mine earlier this week, and later on with Annie as well, about what do we all consider a series should be. And I’ll admit we all had the same idea. So it makes me wonder how and why the concept of a series of books can be seen differently by other people and I’d love to hear your opinions.
To me a series is any collection of books that can follow the same characters throughout one large story arc that takes a few books to unfold (like most young adult or urban fantasy, and some contemporary romances), or (as with most other romance series) it’s a collection of standalone novels that are based on some sort of a common thread. Maybe they are set in the same world, or based on a group of related characters such as friends or families. I can’t wrap my head around the concept that if it’s a separate couple getting their HEA and for all intents and purposes you can read it without reading the others because they aren’t necessarily mentioned, that it shouldn’t be considered a series. To me that’s still a series, and as with most blurbs or reviews, the author or reviewer can mention that the book can be read as a standalone. I have no problems with that.
The problem once you don’t list the connection and make it a series is that for one, it takes away the element of a reading order for the people that do want to read them all so that it’s easy to know which one goes first. This has made me have to go look at release dates for certain books to figure out which one I need to read next. Major pain in the ass.
The series reader in me would much rather read a series of interconnected (even loosely) standalone novels. Those are my absolute favorites. I also love series with a continuing story arc for the same characters such as is the case with urban fantasy. And I also love reading series with individual couples per book where the romance has full closure at the end of the book but there is overall plot that spans several books in the series and these should not be read out of order, like it’s the case with most paranormal romances. I am NOT a fan of contemporary romance series that follow the same couple. Most authors drag these books out so much that I end up not enjoying a couple that I would’ve otherwise liked had it been wrapped up quickly. All these options are all still considered a series in my opinion. I have seen people consider the interconnected standalone novels as regular standalones instead of a series. Do you see it that way? If so, why?
A standalone to me should be exactly that. Standalone. I shouldn’t see characters in that book from another book, nor should any of them be related, or all visit the same club in town. A perfect example that comes to mind of that right use of standalone but with such a slim and almost unnoticed cameo is COCKY BASTARD and STUCK-UP SUIT by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. Yes, there’s a tiny glimpse of a guy walking a goat in the latter, but other than that, those stories stand completely alone. There’s not a single thing tying those characters together, so I don’t consider them a series. A lot of other books though, I think are not classified properly.
So my question to you guys is… which side of the equation do you fall on?
What would you consider a series, and what shouldn’t be in your opinion?
And for that matter, what do you prefer to read?
Series (and if so which kind) or standalones?