Google+ YA Romantics: Trending Thursday: Novella Non Grata?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Trending Thursday: Novella Non Grata?


Welcome to Trending Thursday, a (sometimes) weekly feature in which I pick out a YA trend and we can discuss. Hot or not? Love it or hate it? I'll give you my take, but dissenting opinions are welcome.

Recently I saw (and joined in) some grumbling on Twitter about ... novellas. You know, those longer-than-a-short-story but shorter-than-a-novel kind of things?

I must confess that I've always been somewhat of a skeptic about novellas. To me, they are awkward in length and often lack an obvious purpose. If a novella were a skirt, it would be tea length.


These days, novellas seem to be everywhere in YA. And that's happened since I started blogging nearly three years ago. I did some completely unscientific research on Goodreads, and found that YA novellas started to show up in force around 2010 and 2011, may have peaked in 2012 and 2013 and are still as ubiquitous as selfies and hashtags today. (Those links lead to Goodreads lists of YA novellas published in each of those years.)

I'm thinking that the YA novella may be reaching a saturation point, and is heading toward backlash, as trends can do:



My opinion on individual novellas depends somewhat upon how invested I am in a series. I also think that they should be at least 50 pages and add something new -- but not essential -- to the overall series story arc. 

What are your feelings about novellas? Do you think that they are great way to bide the time between installments of a series, or are they undersized and overpriced? 

40 comments:

  1. hate them myself, I do not know why people want to write something that is neither here nor there

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    1. I think most of them I'm read suffer from that problem. With a few exceptions!!

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  2. The Bane chronicles. I have a huge crush on magnus bane than on Abby other character in TMI. This series of novellas is pure torture. I also don't have any interest in the fractionally numbered books in the Beautiful creatures and Divergent series. But I hunted bookstores for the demigod diaries because I wanted to know the backgrounds of Luke, Thalia, and annabeth, and HELLO, PERCY'S INTERVIEW.
    But on the whole, i'm not into novellas.
    Sheesh, I almost missed takes of Beedle the bard

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    1. I read about 4-5 of the Bane novellas, and definitely liked some (The Midnight Heir) much more than others (Peru, WTF?)

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  3. *any *tales *murders autocorrect*

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  4. Agreed! There are a few that are really great, but I often don't even rate novellas because there is not enough material for a fully developed plot or characters. Julie Kagawa, Wendy Higgins, and Sophie Jordan are notable exceptions.

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    1. And I've never read any novellas by those authors. Julie Kagawa was an early writer of novellas -- one of the trendsetters.

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  5. I don't mind novellas. But I do mind when novellas contain major plot points or twist. And then when I read the book I feel like I missed something because I didn't read the novella. That's get me mad. I can do novellas as an extra, but not as anything more.

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    1. I agree -- I think they should just be extra stuff, like the bonus material on a DVD!

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  6. The most recent one that I've read is Antitype by MD Waters, and while I was dying to read it, my reaction has been pretty adverse. It was meant to tide me over until the second book comes out (July), but sadly, it didn't help ease the wanting at all. Depending on the level of interest I have on a series or a book, I go either way with novellas.

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    1. I'll have to look up that author -- not familiar with him/her...

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  7. I'm not a very big fan of novellas either. I read 3/4 of the ones from the Delirium series because my library had them available for e-book loan, and I enjoyed them, but I can definitely live without novellas being part of a series. If they were released as a separate collection like 3 of the Delirium ones were, or included in the main books like others, I think I would enjoy that a lot more.

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    1. I meant to read the Hana one, because she was my favorite character1

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  8. I have enjoyed a few novellas, but I hate when they are not free, or you need to read in order to understand and fully get the next books.

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    1. I agree -- I think most of them should be free -- or maybe 99 cents!

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  9. Some novellas have no purpose at all, sometimes it seems like the authors only want to make easy money becuase they know that there readers will buy the novela. But I have to admit that enjoyed some novellas like the one of these of the Throne of Glass series.

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    1. When they first started coming out, my theory used to be that they were extra material that had been cut out. But I don't think that's the case now at least...

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  10. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas! Sometimes they're so important and a crucial part to the series and that's what i love but other times they just seem so pointless and are way too expensive that i just get angry. It's complicated

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  11. I totally agree. I don't mind novellas, but only when I'm really into a series and can't get enough. Funny, though, that most of the series I really love never have novellas. I've read a few that I've really enjoyed, but because they add nothing new, I can usually take them or leave them.

    OMG you totally cracked me up with the tea length skirt!

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    1. Tea length skirts are so awkward. Sorry if anyone out there likes them, but I'd rather a skirt be a maxi, or knee length and above..

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  12. I've read a few and I think they're just too short. I feel like I no more get into the story and then it's over.

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    1. I agree -- they are rarely as satisfying to me as a full-length book.

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  13. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas. Sometimes I think they are awesome, but sometimes I think they are too overdone. It seems like every thing has a novella now.

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  14. Some novellas work if it's like a short prequel or something or gives some sort of depth to an antagonist giving more reason to why he does what he does (like Poison Dance is to Midnight Thief, for example), but I am largely wary of them. There are novellas all around but I don't go out of my way to get them because I find them quite useless in essence as well. What's the point other than to temporarily make your fans squeal? It's too short, doesn't really add anything special, and it feels like a tease. Nevermind!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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  15. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas. Sometimes I get excited that the author is gonna make a prequel or a follow up novella for a book I really liked but there are times that I think it's pointless to sell a novella that won't really play a big part on the WHY/HOW/WHEN/WHOs of a story. Especially if a novella is expensive, I mean, can't they just give these for free? Like a way of gratitude towards the readers who loved their book?


    Ella @ The Filipina Booknote

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  16. I rarely read novellas because there are just too many out there and I have so many series to read that I just don't have the time to read all the prequels. But I did read some of them. When I discovered the dystopian genre a few years ago I read some of the first novellas from my favorite series such as Divergent, Shatter Me etc.

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  17. Until, like, two days ago, I had NEVER read novellas! Then I read The Assassin's Blade...and to be truthful I don't know why it's 5 novellas. They all 100% rely on each other and MUST be read in order...so why aren't they just another book? So I'm still not sure about the whole "novella" thing in general. I usually can't be bothered to spend $2 on 50 pages. *shrugs*

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  18. This is so true. I remember back in 2010 novellas were basically non-existing. Nowadays it's a surprise when a series doesn't have them. But yeah will I enjoy them or not depends really. Great post, Jen :)

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  19. I read the crossover story Ally Carter did with her Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series. That was fun for me. It's the only non-novel length story I've EVER been tempted to read in a series... I haven't even read the ones from Warner's POV and I LOVE Warner. (I'm afraid they'll ruin him for me. I like him evil.)

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  20. Novellas bother me quite a bit too, especially if they don't really add anything to the story. A lot are just scenes from the perspective of another character. There just seems to be far too many of them now.

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  21. You always word everything so well! "add something new -- but not essential" This is THE key point. I hate novellas that actually have things that add to the story as we know it, like the Shatter Me series I know people are so surprised at the character development that came out of nowhere but didn't if you had read the novellas. I'm kind of against them in general.

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  22. I haven't read many YA novellas but the quality of the Adult ones I've read has been amazing.

    I used to dislike them quite a bit because they introduced you to something amazing and then left it open ended or you never learned enough to care.

    I'm not a fan of the ones coming out now that seem to be filler just to keep a series going. it should add something or be a treat for long time fans.

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  23. I like novellas, but I don't particularly love them. I do find it annoying sometimes when there are a LOT for one series... However, there are some novellas that I love- esp. A Dawn Most Wicked by Susan Dennard. It was just brilliant! <3

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  24. I'm not a huge fan of novellas, but I do like when they add something to the story. I feel like they're overpriced, even at $0.99, and sometimes I feel they're simply a waste of money. But when they add to the story and make it better in the long run, then I'm happy I gave in and read it. :) Great post, Jen!

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  25. I like to see a little more about the characters sometimes, if it is a series that I absolutely adore. But I don't want to to have to read them as part of the series, if that makes sense. More and more it seems like if I don't get them too, I am missing something in the next full installment of the series, which is frustrating.

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  26. I'm quite a fan of novellas, they're the right size (most of the time) to keep you entertained and engaged when you don't feel like reading a full book, and a lot of the time offer some cool or new information or background knowledge about other characters or storylines before the books...

    That's not to say some of the novellas are quite expensive or some are a bit pointless, but I love the idea of the novellas being available and an option for readers!

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  27. I like them but under the same conditions you mentioned: I have to like a series enough to want to read more and they should add something - like a different plot, a different character's perspective, but they shouldn't be compulsory reading to understand the next book in the series.

    Great topic! They do seem to be the new thing, I guess it could be due to the popularity of ebooks, which means these novellas can be made easily available and for free or at a low cost.

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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  28. I tend to like novellas, but only if they do add something that's not wholly essential to the story. I get like this paranoid feeling that I'm missing out on something if I don't read the novellas, so they do annoy me sometimes. I like when books pick up right when the last one stopped. Or close enough that a novella isn't needed. I like the Throne of Glass Novellas, because they are before the actual Throne of Glass novel, so I get to see the MC's personality grow before I actually settle down into the series.

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