When I think back to all of the books I’ve enjoyed thus far in my life, many titles come to mind. And while I love a good single title, it strikes me that I am far more likely to be moved and remember a book long after I finish reading it when it’s part of a series. There are lots of reasons for this, I’m sure. For me, I think that it comes down both to the characters and the world.
The amount of time I spend with the characters is one reason I am able to immerse myself into a series. Simply spending twelve hours instead of three in the mind of one character I really enjoy is bound to be more likely to leave a lasting impression. Characters are, in my opinion, the single most powerful thing about books. Even when series follow different characters in each book, it still gives you a happy little charge when you see prior point of view characters making a cameo.
But characters aren’t the only benefit of a series. The world is another. As a teenager I was obsessed with Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. While I haven’t read them in over a decade, I still remember many of the characters and the worldbuilding.
These books encompassed a world over several generations. Some of the characters crossed over from one series to the next, but that wasn’t always the case. However, I knew the world so well that it was practically a character in and of itself. I could rely on the Heralds of Valdemar to be good, and whatever wizard happened to be read to invade the lands to be bad. Even when the series journeyed beyond the lands readers were most familiar with, the books were still familiar, the world still the same. I could rely on all of the rules and history that the author set up in prior books.
So readers, do you prefer a series or standalones? Why?