Thoughts

How do you review 2-in-1, 3-in-1 or Infinity-in-1 books?

Omnibuses: His Dark Materials, The Forbidden Game, Strawberry Panic, Paradise Lost

“Get two for the price of one!” At least, that’s the implied message of books that contain two or more novels in one book.

Most of the graphic novels and manga that I read have multiple episodes or chapters in one volume. I seldom have a problem with reviewing graphic novels with chapters because each chapter is so short, and I see the total book as one book.

I have trouble wrapping my head around doing this with novels. For example, I have a hard time writing reviews for any of the three volumes of the Night World series or the three-in-one omnibus of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I feel more inclined to break it down by each individual novel. As a product, though, the two-in-one and three-in-one books are products and part of that is that they hold all of these novels in one book.

Should you comment on there being multiple novels in one physical book?

As a “bang for your buck” item, the fact that there are several novels in one volume should be noted. The condition and weight of the book could be commented on too. I like the almost two-for-one deal, but weight determines if I can carry it with me.

Beyond the physical and monetary concerns, does this add to the meaning of the books? For anthologies, the similarities between the stories or novels could be history, author, theme, region, subject, etc. Those similarities could be reviewed for their effectiveness and accuracy. From what I have read about writing scholarly reviews for anthologies, you do not and generally cannot review everything in the anthology.

In the case of a trilogy in one volume, the connecting element is the series. The review could be of the entire series, but that increases the risk of spoilers for at least the first book in the series. But this is also a concern with reviews of sequels. I have seen more reviews of entire series lately.

Should you review each novel separately or include them in one total review?

One argument I heard for reviewing it all in one review is that you are buying the total series (in some cases) in one volume, so you would want a review of the whole series.

I could go crazy with breaking down how many items I should review. An obvious concern is reviewing each book. Going further, perhaps each chapter needs to be reviewed, especially if the novel was serialized by chapter. This would get tedious and would surely give away more spoilers than the average review of a sequel.

If each novel should be reviewed separately, should each get its own review post or should each have a section of the total book review for itself? Both ideas have their merits. On some level, I feel that I would cover more bases if I tried to review them both ways: a review for each novel and a review for the physical book.

How do you tackle reviewing multiple novels in one book? Have you read any lately?

10 thoughts on “How do you review 2-in-1, 3-in-1 or Infinity-in-1 books?

  1. I think it depends on the book. If it is an anthology I might do one review and talk about how the stories work as a collection. If it is a volume collecting graphic novels I do one review because there tends to be one main arc. If it is just three books packaged together I would probably do three reviews. That would generate more content for the blog, too. Win! 😅

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    1. In the past, I have done that of posting reviews for each novel in the volume, but I wonder if it might matter to someone what it is like to read a bind-up of novels. I definitely like the reasoning about generating more content. Since a lot of graphic novels are bind-ups of several chapters, I treat it as one book too.

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    1. I suppose if it went the way of having the whole series in one book, it might be easier to do a series review. I’m not sure since I’ve never written a series review, though I’ve seen several in the blogosphere. I guess it comes down to preference.

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  2. Good points. It becomes even more relevant on the Kindle where it’s more common to have these bundles 🙂 I am currently reading the said Pullman title and was also thinking about how to do this. But I actual have an idea, I think I will review each other separately (not with you much text though), and then add it all up into a single post, and post the three separate reviews on Goodreads, and then also post an aggregated review for the Omnibus, so readers can find it in all the editions, wouldn’t matter which one they chance to look at. I think that should work best 🙂

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    1. I forgot that Amazon bundles large series into one ebook. That would be a monster of a review for large series if you only did one. I like your idea for reviewing the books, especially for Goodreads.

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  3. Thus far I’ve read mostly anthologies, and I review each story within one overall review. For example I read The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle, which is a collection of short stories, so I gave the overall book a 4 star rating, but then broke out each story and did a sort of mini-review of it. Since that worked for me for a collection of short stories by one author, I just kept that format when reviewing anthologies by multiple authors. Like so:
    Story A by Author 1: Review (1 star)
    Story B by Author 2: Review (5 stars!)
    Story C by Author 3: Review (4 stars)
    Overall review: The first story sucked, but stick with it because the other two are great! Overall rating: 4 stars

    If it’s a series that’s bungled together (especially in ebook format) but the books are also available independently, I’d do a separate review for each book as though it was read on its own (as well as rating on Goodreads on its own). I also like to note when reviewing a book that’s not #1 in a series whether you need to read the prior books first, or if it can be read as a stand alone. 🙂

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    1. In my reviews, I try to note it in the review where the book is in the series. I like mini reviews. They make life easier. Do you like putting those mini reviews in the same post as the overall review or in a separate one?

      I forgot about those ebook bundles. I haven’t bought a set, so I haven’t been sure of the logistics for even reading them. (Are they separate books in the library? Do they show as chapters in the reading experience?) Like you, I think it’s better to treat those as separate books.

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