I am slowly becoming a convert to novellas and short stories. Normally I didn’t really think they were necessary, but the way a lot of authors are tackling them now is a great way to add something to their story. It helps build the universe and make it interesting and fresh.
There’s a mix of story lengths that can be used in novellas. Some are just short little vignettes and glimpses into one particular scene and others can be full blown standalone stories that could probably be made into books of their own. I think that’s where the danger lies with novellas though. There has to be an end somewhere for the original series to have any meaning. All good things must come to an end and all that jazz.
I have a list of novellas that I wanted to discuss today and they all demonstrate the different ways that this medium can be handled. What I like about where it seems to be going right now, is that it’s like the bonus content for movies and TV shows. It’s that background piece that’s fun to see and adds a little something extra.
Twilight – The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer – Published June 5, 2010; 178 Pages.
This one was my first introduction to novellas being released as actual books. Before that, for me anyway, they were just included as extras in the books themselves or released as web only content. I could never really be bothered to pick them up, but at the same time I always felt like I was missing something.
This one falls under the category of story that could have been its own book. It follows a newly turned Bree Tanner as she navigates life as a fledgling vampire. It takes place in between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn in the Twilight universe and offers the reader a behind the scenes look at the army being raised by the villain Victoria.
I really enjoyed this one actually, it was short and sweet and I knocked it out in a few hours. I think I read it a few times in a row. Novellas easily lend themselves to that. Even though it’s part of the Twilight universe and most people would reject it on principle, I still found it an enjoyable read. When it came to its inevitable conclusion I was actually sad. It was nice to see outside of the core families featured in the series. It made it seem a little less isolated.
The Selection – Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass – Published October 13, 2015; 416 Pages.
Full disclosure, I have not read any of these shorts yet, I’ve read all the books in the series and all the shorts are on my TBR list, but Kiera Cass is insufferable with the release of these things. All four were released as e-books, then released in re-prints of the original series, then in two separate bind-ups, and then they were released all together as Happily Ever After. So you can understand why it has taken me awhile to get around to reading them. Every time I try I get confused and think there’s a lot more than there actually are.
From what I’ve gathered reading their respective Goodreads pages these shorts fall under the vignettes and a deeper look into a scene category. They also seem to offer up the same scenes from another characters point of view, something that is becoming more and more popular. I enjoy those only if they truly offer up a different perspective.
Kiera Cass clearly knows what she’s doing and I do look forward to eventually picking this up and getting to read them.
The Lunar Chronicles – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer – Published February 2, 2016; 369 Pages.
There are a variety of lengths and types of stories in this bind up. It’s probably the most eclectic on this list. That’s also what I liked about it. Everything seemed to be just the right length for what it was trying to accomplish.
We got to see characters in familiar situations, we got to see scenes from other characters points of view, we got some background on how our characters ended up where they did in the series, and we got a lovely epilogue that was not included in Winter. All in all, it was a smart move that will keep the fans talking about the series for some time.
I was not let down by a single one of the stories included in this book. It was fun to hang out with those characters again and get some insight into their pasts.
Throne of Glass – The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas – Published March 4, 2014; 448 Pages.
These books followed, or rather probably inspired Kiera Cass, in that they were released as individual e-books first and once they were all released they were put together and released as a physical copy and an e-book as well.
This is the one that I legitimately fell in love with. I’m not sure if it was purely the universe it was based in or the fact that I was completely immersed in that world when I read it, but the stories that are included in this bind-up perfectly accompany the books in the main series. They answer so many questions about character motivations and they make all the characters more lifelike. You also understand where the main character is coming from in her quest for revenge.
It’s a great bind-up and you can either read it before you’ve read the series, or at the mid-point. Although for spoiler purposes I suggest that for your first time, read the first three books in the series first, then The Assassin’s Blade, then continue on with the second half of the series.
The Mortal Instruments – The Bane Chronicles & Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman – Published November 11, 2014 & To Be Published November 15, 2016; 507 Pages & 672 Pages.
I read this series in a weird order. I got into the habit of buying all the books in soft cover so now I have to buy the whole series in soft cover or else it looks weird. I have a problem, don’t judge me. Because of that, I read these either really late or from the library. In the case of these bind-ups, which like so many others on this list are released one at a time as e-books and then released as physical books to build hype, there is a long waiting period.
I haven’t read the Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy yet, but I’m dying to, I’ve already watched a few booktube reviews on it. I will have forgotten everything by the time the book comes out, trust me.
If The Bane Chronicles is anything to go by these will all be from the same characters point of view and may jump around in time a bit. Again, it seems like the point of these is to expand the universe and give the reader a wider scope. I can’t help thinking that it also helps fanfiction writers too, because they have a bigger sandbox to play in and therefore more content can be created by fans. While some view this as a negative, it’s seemed to only have helped Cassandra Clare who is currently writing the third installment in what is rumored to be a five part series. Not bad for someone who used to write Harry Potter fanfiction.
Dorothy Must Die – Dorothy Must Die: Stories Vol 1 & 2 – Published March 3, 2015 & February 16, 2016; 392 Pages & 336 Pages.
I picked Dorothy Must Die up on a whim and it was a pretty decent read. When I discovered the novellas, or stories, I couldn’t help feeling a little exasperated. At this point, pretty much every book I was reading had some type of extra content and e-books so it was a little bit annoying. Being the type of person that I am, I had to at least read them, so I bought them as e-books, because novellas actually work out to be cheaper than books, for once. And they were pretty dang good.
The story of Oz is very vast and covers a lot so that is why it lends itself so well to interpretation. Once I started reading the shorts I couldn’t stop, I needed to keep reading to find out what happens. This is especially good because it builds hype for all the subsequent books to follow.
I haven’t read Stories Volume 2 yet, but I’ve seen them on my Kindle store and read up on them on Goodreads and I am stoked to read them and delve back into the wonderful world of OZ. This take is a lot darker than the movie version so it’s really fun to see all the cockamamie and shenanigans that the characters get into.
Thanks for sticking around guys, I hope you’re having a lovely April. All this snow is just fantastic! (This is why we need a sarcasm font.)
As always, please read responsibly.