Have you ever read a book and wondered what came next? Did you ever know you were reading the last words, but still turn the page anyway?
Sequels….What do we think of sequels?
I remember reading “Gone with the Wind” and wondering if Rhett and Scarlet made it back together. And then, about thirty years ago, the Mitchell estate found an author to make the official sequel. I was so excited. Then I read it and wished they’d never had the stupid idea to write a sequel because it was horrible. Hours of my life that I still miss, wishing I had spent the time washing my hair or something equally as important.
And what about all the “sequels” to “Pride and Prejudice”? After reading a lot of horrific ones, I was so excited when I saw that PD James was going to write one “Death comes to Pemberly”. Oh the anticipation quickly turned into oh the dread…
So, for the most part, I don’t see the value of writing a sequel to a well loved classic. You might get the general tone and feeling of an author, but you can’t duplicate someone’s writing style. A classic is a classic because it has the “it” factor: there is something that makes it special, makes it stand out from the crowd. Even the most talented of authors can not follow through.
But what about modern day, authors who write sequels to their books? I always wonder if this was the plan all along, to write a book so loved and interesting that it will require another book. Do you think authors plan out a series of books when they write?
I don’t know much about JK Rowling, but I think she had to have had a plan how she wanted the whole Harry Potter series to play out. I’ve never researched it, but it just seems that is was not a happy accident to have all those books (though I do know that the publishing of the first was indeed a happy accident) And in her case, I think the books got stronger as time went on.
I had loved the book “I Don’t How She Does It” by Allison Pearson. It came out in 2003 and it looked like there would be no sequel. We would not see how Kate and family got on with life, and I was a little sad. And then, lo and behold, 2018 brought about the sequel “How Hard Can it Be”. I actually got to see how Kate got on with life. This was a successful sequel to me, because I saw real character development- I think the progression of her life from book to book was genuine. I think the 15 year gap in writing the novels allowed the author to mature, enabling her to write a more mature and thoughtful character. But I can’t help but wonder, if she had written a sequel in 2005 would I have loved it as much? Or would it have seemed forced and trivial?
I’m a huge fan of Graeme Simsion and his Rosie Books- “The Rosie Project” becoming an instant favorite with me. Due to the success of the first novel, he wrote a sequel, “The Rosie Effect.” I was underwhelmed by this novel- it went too much quirky, and not enough heart and soul. But……he redeemed himself recently by finishing up the trilogy with “The Rosie Result” which had all the wit and charm of the first novel, but the character development we so needed and lacked in the second book. But I couldn’t help but wonder, after the success of the first book, did he immediately think trilogy and used the second book as filler? Was it the publishers hope that people would be so locked into the Don Tilman story that they would just follow him wherever it went?
Oddly, sometimes the second book is the charm: “The DaVinci Code” was actually the second book by Dan Brown to use Robert Langdon. But let’s throw a wrench in this: are books that revolve around the same character sequels? Or does the story need to continue in a manner of speaking- does the sequel need to start where the other book ended?
So….sequels….what do you think?