Saturday, August 21, 2010

Smashing Sequels

Me: Let’s talk sequels.

Aurelia: Excellent topic!

Me: I think sequels are exceptionally hard to please people with because the reader can never recreate the amazement they had when they ran across a great first book.

Aurelia: Well, aren’t you negative.

Me: Maybe, but you know, when you love a first book, you always imagine how you want the rest to go. And it’s so hard for a sequel to live up to that!

Aurelia: Then you aren’t imagining right. Because the characters have their own lives. It’s your job to learn about them. Not to change the way their stories work.

Me: Mmhm.

Aurelia: I mean, just because you want Ophelia to marry Hamlet doesn’t mean that would make the story better.

Me: I suppose not.

Aurelia: Besides, there are tons of great sequels.

Me: For example?

Aurelia: All three of the later Blossom Culp books. Because she is such a better narrator than Alexander.

Me: I would agree with that.

Aurelia: And In the Hand of the Goddess. You never reread Alanna, the First Adventure without also rereading
In the Hand of the Goddess.

Me: True.

Aurelia: And all the later books in the Tomorrow, When the War Began series by John Marsden. Admit it, you thought the first one was kind of slow.

Me: Shh! We’re being polite. Though it’s true. After the first, those books exploded. You really can’t sleep when you’re in the middle of one. So what do you think is important in a sequel?

Aurelia: Besides me?

Me: We weren’t talking about yours in particular.

Aurelia: Well, I think the action should come out of the first book. That it shouldn’t be an entirely separate story, like the episode of a bad sitcom.

Me: I agree.

Aurelia: And I think the characters should grow. I don’t like those series where no one seems to change because someone is hoping the books will keep on going forever.

Me: I agree with that too. Though I admit, I read a lot of those books when I was in grade school.

Aurelia: I’m so glad you got past the Sweet Valley Twins stage.

Me: Yes, well you aren’t exactly Elizabeth or Jessica.


Me: Aurelia?

Aurelia: I will not dignify that with an answer.

Me: O-kaaaay.

Aurelia: I also don’t like a whole lot of repetition. I mean . . . I always read the first book. I don’t need to read it all again at the beginning of a sequel. A little review is fine but some authors go on and on and . . .

Me: Hmm. I don’t know anyone who goes on and on.

Aurelia: Funny.

OK readers, so what do you think? What are your favorite sequels. And why?


  1. Loved Catching Fire. I spent a lot of time thinking about where Suzanne Collins could go from The Hunger Games, and I never expected what she gave us. I also loved Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban. Okay, I really like all the HP books, but the third one has always been my favorite - to me it has just the right balance of humor and the dark stuff and the story is tight and told well.

  2. Hmm... I agree with HP - the first two sequels improved upon the world, adding depth and solid characterization.

    Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, the second book in the series, is much stronger than the first in plot and all my family enjoyed it more. It remains my favorite overall, to-date, because the characters were all growing, but it was still very much in tune with the first.

    Lee and Taro series: The Hero Strikes Back, is a far more engaging book than the first, a tighter plot and finally some real understanding between the two MCs.

    Kate Daniels series: Every sequel has probably been better than the one before and for sure they have all been better than the first, which while necessary to introduce the world, lacks emotion since our narrator Kate is very emotionally cut off. It is not until the sequels where she really starts having relationships and friends that the story really comes alive and meaningful.

    I loved Patricia Wrede's sequels to Sorcery and Cecilia, Dealing with Dragons and Mairelon the Magician - each and every one took the characters and gave them a new adventure that revealed something more about them or took them to a new level emotionally, all with logical plots and with good reason for another volume. You never felt as if you were cheated on the first book, with stuff left out or filler added to allow for a sequel-it was an organic and necessary chapter in the character's story. Except for Dragons, all could have been left with one, but the sequels finish the stories in a way that leaves the reader 100% happy there was a sequel.

    Demon's Covenant - in some ways I liked it better than the first simply because I knew what was going on, though that "in the dark" quality is part of the fun of the first one. But knowing the characters and knowing what is at stake, with an amazing cast of characters, this middle book in a trilogy in no way falls prey to the middle book syndrome.

    So, most of my favorite sequels do not seem forced, but necessary, have a definite and important story to tell and continue the character development, rather than keep them where they are in the first/prior installment.

  3. I think the brilliance in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is what happens with Scabbers. Because at that point, you KNOW she had to be planning that through the previous two books. Though, personally, I much prefer Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire because I felt like the moral conflict within the series became much deeper there.

    (who also adores Magician's Ward by Patricia C. Wrede and The Hero Strikes Back, of course)

  4. I just finished reading the sequel to "Dreamhunter" by Elizabeth Knox, called "Dreamquake" and it was fantastic, even better than the first one perhaps. I think that is what I hope for in a sequel, that it will impress me even more than the one before it. Also of note in the series realm, two amazing British authors- Louise Cooper (Time Master Trilogy) and Rebecca Bradley (Lady Pain series) are both incredible examples of beautiful, high quality sequels in the fantasy/sci-fi category. Wonderful stuff!

  5. I loved "In the Hand of the Goddess" more than "Alanna", but "Alanna" set the stage for the sequel, thus I love them both. After reading the Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare, I preferred the 2nd book. I found book 2 had more fluidity than the first. However, many of her readers disliked the 2nd in comparison with the first. I guess to each his her own. *shrugs*

  6. So far, I've loved all of the sequels of Robin Hobb's books. She's been my favorite author since I first discovered her. I also really liked "The Sweet Far Thing" by Libba Bray, I think that one was my favorite in the trilogy.
    And on the subject of the Alanna series, I liked the last one, "Lioness Rampant", the most. I don't know what it is about the last books in a series, but I just love them.

  7. Artemis Fowl the Arctic Incident, definitely, for the same reasons (stronger plot, more character growth).
    Ranger's Apprentice Burning Bridge is better than the first. Although I'm quite a fan of firsts of series, Burning Bridge is better than the first because it broadens the conflict and the characters accomplish a lot more (whereas book one had backstory and lots of bonding and learning, but book two had more action). The humor is easier to catch, very dry, and the plot is unpredictable, and the end has a humongous cliff-hanger ending as well.