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.