Looky here! A Next Big Thing! It’s been a while since you’ve seen one, right? I said I’d get one out last week and I didn’t. So here it is! Feel free to leave a comment regarding your thoughts on this trend.
The Next Big Thing: Novellas
With the huge amount of novellas out there, I can’t possibly list them all. But I plan on giving you many examples of both using authors who are notorious for writing novellas to supplement their series.
This is one of those trends you don’t realize is happening until you’re being hit over the head with it. It started slow, but now it’s completely insane how many novellas are out there. I tend to break them down into a few different categories:
1) The Prequel
2) The Pivotal Scene from Another POV
3) The Deleted Chapters
Let’s start with The Prequel. As the name suggests, these are novellas that, in some way, shape, or form, take place before the first book in the series. Rachel Vincent has written at least 3 of these for her Soul Screamers series. There’s one for Kaylee, Tod, and Sabine. Alyxandra Harvey has one for her Drake Chronicles series, which focuses on Helena as a teenager. Jessie Harrell, author of the totally kick-ass Greek mythology-based book Destined, now has one that is aptly titled Before. Even Aimee Carter has joined this party with a whole book devoted to the history of the gods and goddesses in her series The Goddess Test.
What’s great about the prequel is that it offers insight into the characters. Sometimes these characters are the main characters, sometimes they’re more minor. Still, it gives you a little more on their character before they became the character we now know. In the case of Soul Screamers, for instance, we see why Kaylee is terrified of people thinking she’s crazy. We see how Tod became a Reaper. We see Sabine as a lonely girl in foster care who is one strike away from being sent to prison. It just gives you a different perspective on things.
Now to The Pivotal Scene from Another POV. This is probably one of the easiest to access of the novellas, since they are the ones that usually ends up free on an author’s website. It rewrites a typically tense scene (sometimes a romantic one or one where romantic feelings are beginning to develop). Megan Miranda’s book Fracture has a POV switch to Delaney’s best friend for the 11 minutes that Delaney is stuck under the ice in a frozen pond. (Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler.) Veronica Roth wrote a scene from Four’s POV in Divergent. Technically, I suppose, you could put Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun in this category as well.
These are kind of cool because it gives an observer’s perspective to the main action of the story. Sure, these people are also part of the action, they have to be, but they aren’t always the main players. The things they notice aren’t the same. I like them because they allow me inside the head of a new person. It also allows you to understand the main character more as well, because you can see what others really think of them. You know? …Moving on.
Finally, we have The Deleted Chapters, which is probably the most common of all the novellas. These could also be called “The Betweeners” since they take place after the series has started, but not within the timeframe of one particular book. Beth Fantaskey has a betweener for her Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side series that ends up being quite essential to read before reading the actual sequel. Rachel Vincent also has at least one of these betweeners for her Soul Screamers series, from the POV of Sophie. Aimee Carter has one that takes place between the first and second Goddess Test books. But in the true essence of Deleted Chapters that were actually in the book and removed before publishing, I’ve seen Stephenie Meyer and Cassandra Clare post boatloads of those. Clare especially, who seems to have like, 6 for every book she publishes. I gave up on reading them all after a while.
These are really just filler stories to keep you with the series until the next book comes out. These are the ones that are usually like, $.99 on Amazon. Not a big deal, but it makes me question how badly I really want to read it. (What? Broke college student.) Well, the Betweeners usually cost money, anyway. Not so much the DCs. Sometimes, they have real relevance to the series. Others are just fluff. I like these because they add more depth to the stories they spring from.
Obviously, these are not all the novellas in YA lit right now. A quick list includes novellas from the following series: Delirium, Shatter Me, Caster Chronicles, Chemical Garden, Birthmarked, Covenant, Iron Fey, Steampunk Chronicles, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Percy Jackson, Wicked Lovely, Possession, and Of Poseidon. These, of course, are not all of them. A little digging will usually reveal which series have them. Goodreads is a great place to search, if you’re interested in seeing whether or not your favorite series has any of these novellas.