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Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Totally Biased Rant Against Sequels

Before you read any further, I gotta warn you not to take me too seriously.  While I certainly do have some of these problems with sequels, I MAY have exaggerated a little here and there for effect.  You know how it goes.

It seems books come in threes lately.  I'm happy for the authors, REALLY.  It must be really exciting to get a three book deal and I hope to find out for myself someday.

Still, there's something about this whole trilogy thing that makes me roll my eyes more often than not.  Not sure why.  Let's explore the possibilities:

Suspension of Disbelief
I've read a lot of books that I really enjoyed, yet had no desire to read any of the sequels. I think part of the reason is that I bought into the adventure the first time around but just can't quite believe the same individual can have another (equally) incredible journey in books 2 and 3 that won't feel contrived.  

Lack of Surprise
Part of the joy of a sequel, of course, is getting to spend more time with characters you fell in love with.  Part of the pain of a sequel is that you already know the characters and there's really not a whole lot of surprises in store for you.

The Girl/Guy Got Caught
There's a romantic element to many books these days.  Generally, the MC gets the guy (or gal) at the end of book one. All the lovely will-they-get-together tension is gone 

No Traction
Unless a book was planned as a series with a careful unveiling of layers each installment, I get bored (think books like Nancy Drew...). The story is okay, but the characters don't really grow or face anything new/different. It's kind of like a car spinning its wheels in the snow  Just doesn't go anywhere.

Cop Out
I know how this is going to sound, and I don't really mean it quite the way I know it's going to come out.  So hold on to those rotten eggs for a minute, okay?  It seems that some authors continue to write about the same characters because it's easier to write about people they've already developed rather than creating new ones from scratch.  

Short Attention Span
Sometimes I love the first book and can't wait to read the sequel. The problem is I don't usually have the sequel primed and ready to go when I finish the first book.  So I move on to another and generally lose all sense of urgency by the time I'm done. 

An extension of the last one, I like to wait until a series is complete before I dive in.  That way, if I fall in love with a book I won't have to wait a year for the next installment.  I'm so glad I didn't start to read Harry Potter until it was finished because it would have driven me crazy to wait so long between books -- I doubt I would have finished it otherwise.

Group Mentality a.k.a. I'm Not A Sheep
The big series - like Harry Potter, Twilight, or Hunger Games - tend to gather rather vocal and even rabid fans. But the more buzz a book (or movie) gets, the more hesitant I am to try it.  It's stupid, especially considering I believe in the filtering powers of the masses. 

So, have I totally alienated you?  Take it to the comments...what do you love/hate about sequels?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I do like sequels and series because I grow attached to the main character or characters. Movies don't often get sequels right but most books do.
And I never intended to write a sequel, so I'm just going to slink off now...

Laurel Garver said...

I have so many of the same qualms about series. I think ones that work follow the model that HP does--there is a single story arc, one big adventure, in each book, but also pieces coming together for an entire series arc.

Obviously, this takes intense planning and serious chops to pull off.

And the whole buzz thing? Oh yes. Excessive hype has a way of killing books for me. No way can any piece of literature live up to it. Even books I adored have some flaws. If I came at them with the expectation to be as awed as seeing the Northern Lights or the Eiffel Tower or something, I'm going to feel tricked, gypped, and annoyed.

The best reviewers give a balanced view, not simply set off firecrackers and toss confetti.

Nicole MacDonald said...

I won't read past book 5 in a series... even the ones I LOVE. It's funny but I don't consider my trilogy as a book followed by two sequels, cause in my head it's always been one story that was just too big to have in one book, so split it over three. And I haven't even read a single HP book yet ;p

DL Hammons said...

I prefer series that utilize the same characters, but tells a different (independent) story with each book. Books that take one large story and divide it into three separate books really don't interest me. :)

Heather Day Gilbert said...

I think one series that succeeded REMARKABLY was A Series of Unfortunate Events. As Alex said, you get attached to the characters and have to see what happens to them. In The Hunger Games, I was disappointed at the way she

******SPOILER ALERT************

killed almost everyone off. What was the point of that? I guess it's a worldview thing. Sigh. I'm working on a sequel to my as-yet-unpubbed first novel, and I'm not planning any past that (unless it makes billions, okay, then I might just consider it!). I just need one more book to wrap things up.