Hi there! How are you? I’m trying not to make any typos today because I’m switching between my Mac and my desktop computer and they have different keyboards, which is driving me nuts – like I keep trying to reach for the trackpad when I’m on my desktop and trying to use ctrl as a command key on the Mac. Also, the apostrophe, y/z, and a whole bunch of other keys are in different positions. *sigh*
So bear with me. This discussion is my attempt to participate in the Discussion Challenge, where lots of great people talk about great bookish stuff. Go check it out.
Today, I want to talk about reading novellas. Do you read novellas? By this, I mean the companion stories to novels and/or series, not just separate, standalone short stories. I like short stories though I don’t nearly read enough of them. But I haven’t quite made up my mind about companion novellas.
This post is the result of the… disappointment? surprise? uncertainty? I felt about The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. I won’t be reviewing the novella itself here but I reviewed the first part of this series, The Name of the Wind, on my blog a while ago – and it remains one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read (which is saying something). I’m currently working my way through a re-read of The Wise Man’s Fear and I decided to read this novella because my husband got a copy and it was short and I needed something new.
And I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I expected more of Rothfuss’s witty, gorgeous writing, more of his amazing storytelling – and I got a contemplative piece with no clear plot, little character development (this confused the hell out of me because it’s a book that focuses very strongly on a single character), and little to no addition to the main plot of the series. I like Auri as a character, she’s very interesting and, I think, much more important that anyone gives her credit for. I’m just not sure I wanted to read 100 pages of her confusing thoughts and rituals.
I kept asking myself whether Rothfuss’s publishers was just so happy they had something to publish in the long wait for the third book, The Doors of Stone, that they just published this to tide the fans over. I am in two minds about this. If they genuinely loved the story, I’m okay with it – I might not like it but others still do and will enjoy it and all. But if it was a marketing ploy, I’m not too happy with it. But there’s no way of knowing for sure.
I have read other novellas – though I don’t pick them up very often, truth be told. As much as I liked Sarah J. Maas’s work until recently, for example, I never bought her Throne of Glass novellas. I understand the fans who do want to read such stories – like I felt with The Slow Regard of Silent Things, they are probably desperate for more content about their favourite characters.
It just feels to me like this extra content is something that was rightfully axed from the original plotline, which probably means it made the story weaker. If it was an essential part of the plot, or character development, or whatever, it would have been kept in the main storyline! No? I know novellas are a way for the authors to explore their worlds or characters in more depth but are these scribbles really meant to be published? To be shared with eager fans?
I’m not sure about this. I think I would rather read fewer pages from a certain author if I know they’re polished to perfection and the story is tight and the characters solid. Reading novellas feels like loosening that effort, like watering down the greatness that was the original story.
So reading novellas that accompany your favourite series is a double-edged sword. You’re desperate for more page-time with your beloved characters but at the same time, you’re probably reading discarded thoughts that should never have seen the light of day (or the outside of an author’s computer).
So, how do YOU decide? Do you always pick up companion stories or are you a purist in this regard?
Have you read any really great novellas to your favourite series?
I’d love to hear from you!