Thursday, December 8, 2011

In Praise of the Stand Alone Novel

To stand alone is a difficult thing to do, even if you happen to be a book. Besides the fact they don’t have any legs, books without a posse of sequels, prequels and threequels often get tragically underrated. While they might not have hoards of screaming fans like Twilight, or Percy Jackson’s never ending adventures, these brave novels can be picked up and read without a worry; you don’t need to know anything before hand, and they come to true conclusions in the end. Yet these books still leave room to imagine. Without a doubt, they most definitely deserve some time in the lime light.
While every trilogy you can name has a movie to follow it, I do like being able to pick up a book without the prejudice the films can create. Seeing the trailer for I am Number Four before I read the book completely messed with my head because I kept waiting for scenes that never happened. Following that, have you ever picked up the second book in a series by accident, and suddenly found yourself bombarded with incomprehensible story lines? It’s a worse feeling of confusion than picking up Degrassi mid-season and Maths class combined.
Even if you managed to read through a whole book from halfway into a series, it will just leave you hanging in the end. The not-so-subtle foreshadowing of the next book, or even in the Hunger Games, where it was simply, “End of Book One”, can get really irksome. It’s especially frustrating when the next book might not come out for six more months. Some may say the cliff hanger is what keeps the intrigue, but I’ve come to appreciate the stand-alone’s style of conclusion. Stand-alone novels bring the story full circle, and although the endings aren’t always the happily ever after some people would like, I find them more satisfying. The fact that the rest of the characters’ lives won’t be written in stone by the author, but are left to your imagination is something you don’t always have with run on series, or even trilogies.  You have the freedom to imagine the characters’ future in whatever way you see fit.
And if my case for the beauty of stand-alone novels hasn’t convinced you yet, just wait! Here are some solid examples:

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Delirium, Lauren Oliver:
 Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn't understand that once love--the deliria--blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: she falls in love.
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Host, Stephanie Meyers:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.
Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed. When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Both of these novels are wonderful stand-alone novels, set in the distant (or possibly nearer) future. They might seem a little weird at first, but if you’re willing to embrace something a bit different, I highly recommend them. But fear not, if dystopian love stories aren’t your type, there are many more stand-alone novels yet to be discovered, in every genre you can think of!
Stand-alone novels are some of the most courageous books in the world. They are the books that remain intact, that don’t get lost in a sea of continuations. Should you ever come across one, pick it up and thank it, by sitting down and reading it!

Check out this link and find more stand-alone-awesomeness!

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