I will read either as long as they’re well-written, but I’m partial to stand alones because the narratives are tighter. Consider the shape of a story. We have a character who struggles to achieve a goal, passing through numerous obstacles that force that character to change (though not always–there are great literary examples that break the mold). We enjoy watching that character struggle because we are sick, sick monkeys. But our characters reach the climax, their goal (or not) and there’s a quick race to the finish.
With a series, the author needs to set new goals and challenges before the character, forcing them to change EVEN MORE. This is difficult, especially when we’re talking about young adult literature. These stories are often (though not always) coming of age narratives. By the end of the book, a character has proven him or herself to be older, wiser–more of an adult. It is difficult to sustain that effect again and again over the course of several books. How much more does said character have to learn that he or she didn’t learn in the first book?
That said, there are several series books that have compelling enough characters, story worlds, etc. that most readers are comfortable–even excited–to follow them a little longer.
But let me ask you this: Are you usually satisfied with the ending of a series? Does it leave you disappointed because maybe it got to be like fast food and you just wanted more (not necessarily a bad thing, lol). Or do the endings to these extended narratives fail to live up to your expectations because you wanted something more for the characters? Did you really need to see every bit of their “happily ever after” or would it have been more satisfying to leave some of that up to the imagination?
Or maybe you like the way they end. 🙂 Would love to hear from you!!
Michelle Joyce Bond