Monday, August 23, 2010

Behemoth Books

So I've been noticing what seems to be turning into a trend in YA lit these days: long books.

Is it just me, or does it feel like there are more and more 400-page-plus books coming out recently? Some examples that come to mind off the top of my head would be Beautiful Creatures, Before I Fall, The Eternal Ones, Nightshade, etc. There are also a few in the 350-400 page range that are also rather hefty, such as The Dark Divine, Brightly Woven, etc.

Now, one of the general unspoken tidbits about writing is that there's no set word count - write it in as many or as few words as it takes to tell the story.

There are books that do this brilliantly. For example, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (hehe, had to bring it up -Mockingjay tomorrow!) are decently sized books - but every page, every word feels necessary. The plot, the language, the characters - everything keeps the reader completely entranced. The Harry Potter books got pretty hefty by the end, but they're still amazing reads and hugely popular.

Unfortunately this doesn't always seem to be the case. Honestly, it feels like a recurring observation in many of my reviews now, the fact that some books are simply unncessarily long. I'm not going to into naming specific examples and calling anybody out here, but some scenes just feel like the book could've done without. Others, backstory and setting up the scene takes the first hundred pages or so. Seriously? Just get to the story already.

Has anyone else been finding this recently, books being longer than they need to be?


Anonymous said...

I've noticed this as well. It's not entirely a bad thing, except that I've read several shorter books that could have done with being longer and several long books that could have done with being shorter (Beautiful Creatures, I'm looking at you).

Anonymous said...

i COMPLETELY! agree with you! Too frakin unneccesarry scenes not to mention loads of necessary but annoying flashback (talking about Dark Divine)!

Anonymous said...


Yes x 1000.

Aimee said...

I completely agree. Some of my favorite YA books pack a huge punch in small packages and others need the length of almost 400 pages to tell a non stop page turning story. It totally depends. I loved the Harry Potter series, but Deathly Hallows spent way too much time camping in the words...
I think this annoying new trend is plaguing more than just YA books, a lot more bestsellers are getting longer and longer. I work at a library and we've been complaining about this recently. I was happy to see that this is something that is bothering others.

deltay said...

booksidontlike - That's a good point, about the inverse being true too. But at the same time, one sign of success is if a book has me wishing for more, wishing it were longer, but still knowing that it's at the optimal length for the story. With books that you're wishing are over already as you're reading... haha, not a good sign.

Anon - hehe you guys both went ahead with specific examples

Girlinbetween - Mmhmm!

Aimee - That's true. I think Suzanne Collins manages brilliantly - her books aren't abysmally long or anything, but she manages to put in so much content and action and world-building... definite page-turners.
Maybe if we raise enough of it an issue about it, the industry'll get the message? ;)

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