You know that feeling when you discover something you probably should have known about already? The confused, surprised, berating yourself feeling, because you really just should have known? That’s what I’m experiencing right now. I was researching recently published YA short story collections when I stumbled onto a few YA novellas. And then there was a few more. Then a dozen more. And suddenly there was a GoodReads list of 224. Umm... how did I miss this?!
Okay, so I knew some companion novellas to popular teen series existed. I saw the Delirium Stories by Lauren Oliver on the shelf when it was released (though that is a rare print version). I even have a few on my iPhone Nook App. But I had no idea that the number was so large. I had no idea that the trend was so popular.
It makes sense. We live in the digital age, and authors can get novellas to their fans without actually having a publisher make a print version (though some do). Novellas can be distributed as e-books to smart phones, tablets, e-reader devices and basically any computer that can download apps. Sell the e-book novellas for a couple of dollars, and VOILA! Readers can indulge in these stories relatively cheaply and relatively quickly.
So, the question is: why a novella?
1. The author can share the main character’s back story. What happened to the character before we pick up their story? It’s likely this story didn’t have a place in the book’s plot and doesn’t have enough gusto to fill an entire book by itself. So, novella it is! Examples: Sarah J Maas’ Assassin novellas, Rae Carson’s The Shadow Cats
2. The author can tell the story of secondary characters. What happened to them before/after they made their usually brief appearance? This character’s story doesn’t have a place in the main plot, but a novella is a great way to extend their history to readers. Examples: Stephenie Meyer’s The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Tahereh Mafi’s Destroy Me
3. The author can tell the same story from another character’s viewpoint. Some novels are written in first person, meaning that the reader only sees the main character’s perspective. Writing a novella from another character’s point-of-view gives another take on the same story. Examples: Veronica Roth’s Free Four, Alex Flinn’s Lindy’s Diary
4. The author can write a prequel, epilogue or side-story to the current series. Sometimes there’s just more to the story and a novella is the perfect place for it. Examples: Leigh Bardugo’s The Witch of Duva, Dan Wells’ Isolation
Most of the novellas seem to be attached to a paranormal or fantasy series, but I noticed some standalones as well. Novellas give insight where it might not have normally been given. They are a great way to further engage readers, especially since they are usually quick reads! Here are a couple lists of available YA novellas:
I’ve added some novellas that I stumbled upon to my reading list:
· Life before Legend: Marie Lu (prequel to the Legend series)
· The Assassin & the Pirate Lord: Sarah J Maas (prequel to Throne of Glass)
· Stupid Perfect World: Scott Westerfeld
Time will tell, but it appears that the YA novella is here to stay!