Serial Box has a new strategy for reading that I find intriguing. They’re basically releasing books in a serial format that is modeled after TV. Each week a new “episode” comes out— a chapter of the book that they say can typically be read in about 45 minutes or so.
The idea isn’t completely new—it sort of reminds me of how I used to read stories in the sci-fi magazine I got when I was younger, with each piece of the story coming out in the latest magazine. And some novels are published in a serialized manner too. But the idea of weekly episodes and a site where you can read multiple serialized stories seems unique to me.
I’ll confess that I’m torn about the idea. On the one hand, I tend to lose interest in even TV when I have to wait a week between episodes. I binge watch almost everything nowadays, waiting until a full season is available on Netflix before jumping in. BUT I like the idea of short digestible parts of a story because it feels like you can get the entertainment value of a book without putting in hours at a time reading. I’m wondering if it might be great for people who don’t really feel like readers (people like my husband, who claims he can’t read a full book). Since there’s an audio version of each episode as well, it might also appeal to people who listen to podcasts (in fact, they actually refer to the episodes as podcasts).
Serial Box gave me access to the first season so that I could see what I thought, and I read the three available episodes of The Fisher of Bones (which is actually available for anyone to read for free) and the first few episodes of Remade.
The Fisher of Bones
- The episodes for this book are very short (much shorter than other serials on the site), but they give a good taste of what Serial Box is all about.
- I was immediately intrigued by the fantasy world that’s introduced. I hadn’t read the blurb before I jumped into reading, but I immediately recognized many of the parallels between this story and the story of the Israelites journey to the Promised Land in the Bible (but this story is very revisionist—it’s not just a retelling of the story, it’s more of a fantasy take on a similar journey).
- The book jumps right into the fantasy world, and you get very little background information. When we only get a snippet of the story at a time, you can’t spend lots of time on background information. You sort of have to be thrown right into the action for it to work.
- There are plenty of mysteries presented right from the very first episode—and few answers. I actually kind of liked this, and I think it might be key to this type of story. How do you get readers to keep tuning in? Give enough to pull them in and make them curious, but definitely keep them guessing!
- I read the first two episodes of the series back-to-back and then waited about a week to read the third (to give me more of an idea of what it would be like to read it as a serial). I found that I remembered the story easily and that it didn’t take me any time at all to get back into it.
- If you do need a reminder of what happened previously, though, there’s a nice little recap at the top of each episode—a refresher, as they call it—to help you!
- All of the episodes of Fisher are written by a single author, so the story is completely cohesive.
- ReMade is a YA sci-fi tale, and I think this type of format might really appeal to a YA audience.
- Again, this story jumps right into the action. Since the characters themselves have no idea what’s happening to them, we don’t either—we’re figuring it out along with them. Some people might find this disconcerting, but I actually liked the mystery and the crazy sci-fi elements.
- Each episode focuses on a different main character (though it looks like some characters repeat as the season goes on). We see what’s happening now as they’re thrown into a strange, sci-fi world, and pieces of their “regular” lives that led to them ending up there.
- I enjoyed getting to know these characters and I’m invested in finding out what’s going to happen to them.
- I listened to the Podcast version of episode two, and it was fantastic! They’ve added sound effects, ambient noise, and music behind the narrators, and I really enjoyed the effect. I plan to continue listening to the series this way.
- I listened via the app, which seems like the easiest way. I actually had a hard time figuring out how to get to the audio version on the site (turns out, you have to click Download and then there’s an audio option).
- Apparently, they just added functionality so you can stream the audio from the app instead of downloading it, which is handy (I downloaded with no problem, but sometimes it’s not that easy).
- There are six authors writing the episodes for ReMade (I believe it’s one author per POV). This works well since each character has a unique perspective on the story.
I hope to continue both of these serials, so I’ll let you know what I think when I finish up Season 1 of ReMade. By then, I’ll have an even better idea of how the whole idea holds up.
If you’re looking for something a little different, Serial Box might be a great way to mix things up with your reading. Only have an hour before you go to bed to read or listen to a book? Well, this is perfect. Today is the launch of the second season, so it’s a great time to jump in!
There are series available in several different genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Adult Contemporary, Thriller, YA Sci-Fi. And I believe there are more planned to be added to the mix.