Companion Novels as an Alternative to Sequels
Over the past six months, there have been two posts here on The Hub that caught my attention regarding the trend towards series and sequels. Carla Land (The Sequel Predicament) and Hannah GÃ³mez (Too Many Trilogies) bring to light a number of issues that can make a reader frustrated with these types of stories. I am a fan of many sequels and series, but I often find myself happy to enjoy a great book that is a stand-alone novel. There are times, though, when I am not ready to let a universe go or I think I will miss the author’s writing style for a particular storyline even though I don’t feel like I need more of the story. Carla mentions in her post that she will often reread a title immediately for this reason and I have certainly been there myself.
I have found something of a balance between my desire for stand-alone books and the fact that I don’t always want to let go in companion novels. These are independent stories that exist in a single world built by the author and often feature the main character in one story as a background character in another. The specific voice will change with the main character, but I find that the author’s style often remains with companion novels. I like the experience of characters that I know well popping up here and there. It makes me feel like they are continuing to live their lives off the pages.
Companion novels can often be read out of order as the main story changes. Due to availability, I read Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins before her debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss. The only real spoiler for Anna wasn’t much of a spoiler if you happen to be a fan of this genre and know how these things tend to end. If you are set on not having a single spoiler, though, it is probably be best to read them in the order they are released.
The following are a few companion sets that have been noteworthy in the YA community recently. I have listed them in release order in case you want to keep spoiler-free. Please feel free to share your favorite companion sets in the comments below!
- Anna and the French Kiss (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2012 Readers’ Choice List)
- Lola and the Boy Next Door (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
- Isla and the Happily Ever After (release date not yet set)
- Code Name Verity (2013 Printz Honor Book, 2013 Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults Top Ten)
- Rose Under Fire (September 10, 2013)
- Catching Jordan
- Stealing Parker
- Things I Can’t Forget
- Racing Savannah (December 3, 2013)
– Jessica Lind, currently reading Falling Hard by Megan Sparks (first book in another series!)