Monday, April 30, 2012

Discussion: Why Dystopian Should Not Always Be Standalones

Like my post before about standalones, I stated that I missed them but I also stated that most dystopians, in my opinion, should not be a standalone (unless it’s The Giver, which totally rocked as a standalone dystopian.)


The big answer? World building.

Its so important in really any book but with Dystopians its so much more. And now that I think about it, I think it’s important for urban fantasies and paranormals. I’m going to make it easier to understand by using an example.
Divergent by Veronica Roth:

In Divergent, we are introduced to the factions and we briefly learn what they are and what they stand for in the beginning. As we read on, we learn more about the Daungtless and some of the other factions. As the book continues, we learn more and more about that faction but not a whole lot. Veronica Roth has to incorporate character development and conflict and she has to put in other characters’ stories as well. When you think about it, you don’t actually know as much about this world that Veronica Roth has created as you thought you did.

I need to know a whole lot about the world (and the characters and all). I don’t want the author to introduce the world: Factions in Chicago and then tell one small aspect of it: Daughtless are the Brave and tell me no more.

I like to say that I got an introduction to the world in which Divergent takes place. I want to read Insurgent not only to see what happens next with the characters but to also to learn more about the world. I want to know more about the other factions because like Divergent showed us, not everything is as it seems.

Take The Hunger Games for instance. How would you have liked it if Suzanne Collins had only published The Hunger Games and not continued on? I personally would not have liked it very much. I loved Catching Fire (maybe even more the THG) and Mockingjay and I felt that I needed all three of those books for my need of that world. I wanted to know more and more about the government and its people but I also wanted to know what was going to happen to Peeta and Katnis and Gale. So, while some dystopians have proven that they can be standalones (have I mentioned The Giver?), many of them need to be more than one book. I’m not saying that you should just stretch one plot on but rather, introduce more plot arcs and people as the wolrd building and conflict begin to reach their climax. I’m glad Suzanne Collins didn’t write another book after Mockingjay in the world of the Games because I felt that the trilogy ended in a great place.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?


  1. A wonderful post! I haven't read Divergent, but I get what you're saying completely. If the book is able to successfully show us the world, then by all means let it be a stand-alone, but otherwise... What's the point?

  2. EXACTLY! With dystopians, there is more to be learned about the world, etc. than can be learned from one book. Like in Divergent, we don't know a lot about the other factions, etc.

    You should read Divergent! It's awesome!