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?

50 thoughts on “To Be Continued….

  1. I DO know that Rowling had her series planned out; not sure at what point.

    I also know that publishers ask for sequels. They’re like film sequels: easier to market and sell and such. I’ve even heard rumors that some publishers want a series outline submitted with the initial bid….

    I’m with you on the quality, though. Like many readers (yourself included) I want to keep living in the world and writing style of the story. Not all authors can keep up the magic combination of their first, though some hit it better in their second or third books (like, in my opinion, with the Twilight series).

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    1. It’s so hard to keep up with the pace and originality of a story when you start getting into second and third books. Sometimes I wonder how many books an author actually has in them

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  2. I think unless the author plans a series, a sequel can be pretty bad. I often read Young adult novels and nowadays most of them are series. But I finished Beartown yesterday. Whew. That one wore me out. Did you read it? You are way ahead of me in reading. I went for years without reading, due to having so many kids. I’m trying to catch up. 🙂

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  3. I agree about P&P and GWTW. All sequels were disappointing. I think because we live in a binge watching world we want, or expect sequels. But,Good literature doesn’t require sequels, as much as we may want one. Sometimes perfection is quite enough!
    Usually sequels are disappointing. Every now and then, you get better books in the sequel. I remember when my students were all reading Twilight and mooning over Edward Cullens. So I read it to see what their fascination was. I was aghast at how badly it was written. The plot was fun, but it was a poorly written story with hundreds of errors. Evidently the author hired an editor for her sequels because her writing improved. And because the young girls in my class were entranced with Edward and Jacob, I read the sequels and introduced Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Kathy, and Darcy and Lizzy so they could compare protagonists. That silly series got my students reading more than they ever did so it actually had merit,. Lol
    To conclude, I’m spoiled. I want sequels in literature and in movies. But in reading or seeing them I’m usually disappointed.

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    1. I’m spoiled as well, because I want the same things…I want the story to continue but be as good as the original. Doesn’t usually happen though!

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  4. Seems that a series and a sequel can be two different things, with a series being multiple stories about some of the same characters and a sequel more of a continuation? However, I think that the term sequel is also used when authors write another story about characters that may have appeared in a book many years ago. If the trend won’t be continued, then I doubt they would call it a series. For example, about 40 years after writing “The Graduate,” author Charles Webb finally wrote another book to let readers know what happens to the main characters (Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross in the film). It’s set years later when their children are of school age and called “Home School.” I wouldn’t call this a series because he probably won’t write an additional one. Not exactly a sequel either, since it skips ahead many years. However, the two main characters and “Mrs. Robinson” are all in the story. By the way, I liked the book okay, but it was not nearly as good as the first. How could it be?

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    1. That’s a good distinction. I hadn’t thought about that….series or sequel. Ahhhh….that makes sense. And of course the other graduate wouldn’t be as good…..😀

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  5. “Have you ever read a book and wondered what came next? ” All the time and you are absolutely right, sequels are usually are not as good as the original. In life in general, its harder to live up to expectations sometimes. With originals its new so expectations might not be as high as a sequel.
    Now I write poetry and I have written sequels. The reason why I might write sequel to a story is because the orginal was really good and people might ask for a part 2

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  6. When I read Sisterland I was left with a type of hangover that wanted more. I want to know what happens next. Not sure if Curtis Sittenfeld wrote a sequel to that or not, but if she did I hope she keeps the same tone as the first one. Having said that, I often feel like the sequels are just not worth it…

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  7. Great read!!! and certainly something to think about. Not every story needs a sequel- or does it? Though the story may seem unfinished at the end- sometimes the mind just needs to ponder that we will just never know what’s next. Ah- just not sure how to look at sequels!! 🙂 thanks for kickstarting the mind this morning!!

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  8. That GWTW sequel was the worst sequel ever……Margaret Mitchell must have been rolling over in her grave over that one! I recently read Marilla of Green Gables, a prequel of Marilla’s younger years, and it spoiled Marilla for me forever, she came across as a priggish young girl whose pride prevented her from marrying Gilbert Blyth’s father – it was just out last year and hyped of course because of the legacy of Anne of Green Gables, but still I wish I hadn’t bothered. A thoroughly dislikeable character who took 25 years to consider a marriage proposal and then was disappointed he married someone else – the story just did not make sense.

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  9. I’m a big fan of the Louise Penny novels surrounding the adventures of Armand Gamache. While the books could stand alone, they’re much better when taken in sequence which I believe is the main purpose of sequels.

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  10. Sequels can be a double edged sword. Some are amazing and obviously part of a series. You know its a series when you pick up the first book. They are meant to be read as a series. Others are a whole different ballgame. One time I read a book and it ended in the middle of a paragraph. And the next book wasn’t due out for almost a year. Why not just wait and release them together? Or say that it’s part of a series. Or else you start to read a book that is part of a series but you MUST read the others first or you have no idea what is going on. I really like books that can be read separately. On their own. Even if its a part of a series, the book doesn’t need to be read in sequence to still be understood and is a great read on its own.

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  11. I disliked the sequel to GWTW – really disliked it. I like some sequels (series) because I love character development as life lessons unfold. Good for you for working on your sequel.
    I don’t like the outlandish twists in some of these trendy novels. It’s like think of the most absurd plot twist and voila! I understand that truth is stranger than fiction at times, but….well, you know what I mean. 🙂

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  12. I really don’t like sequels that are basically reruns of the first book or movie, with just a few minor plot and/or character changes. But a well-written sequel that truly continues the story and stays true to the original in tone and quality is a blessing!

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