Sequel Sickness

I'm going to admit something that might sound a tad Scroogey: there aren't very many books written that are good enough to entice me to buy any sequel offered. I'm sure you are composing a mental list of dozens of sequel-worthy novels at this very moment. And I won't dispute you. There are indeed many sequel-worthy novels. But with thousands of new books being published each year there just are not very many good enough for me to set aside time and money that would otherwise be devoted to a new standalone book or an established series and invest it in a sequel to a novel that was anything less than stellar to begin with.

Even then, I know I am taking a huge risk. I suffer from the angst that the sequel will never measure up to the brilliance of that first novel. Will a mediocre sequel tarnish my golden memory of that first book? Was I mistaken in my original assessment or is the author simply not up to the task? Such was the case with the All Soul's Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The opening book to that series, A Discovery of Witches, was utterly compelling - a high compliment given the market saturation of vampire stories at that time. And then...cue the doom music...along came the sequel, Shadow of Night, a novel that fell so far short of the original that it destroyed my enjoyable memory of the first book. And that was the end of both the trilogy and the author for me. A travesty for all concerned. It was for this reason that to this very day I have utterly refused to read Larry McMurtry's novel The Streets of Laredo, a novel that is the sequel to his Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece (and perhaps my favorite novel of all time), Lonesome Dove. I simply cannot take the chance that an inferior sequel - and how can anything equal Lonesome Dove? - mar the perfection of the original.

Needless to say, a well-written sequel can be oh-so-rewarding. It's hard to fathom a world without Frank McCourt's 'Tis, the sequel to Angela's Ashes. Or Half-Broke Horses, the incredible sequel (prequel?) by Jeanette Walls to her critically acclaimed memoir The Glass Castle. Or what about the sequel that surpasses the first book? D.H. Lawrence's classic Women in Love was actually a sequel to his earlier novel The Rainbow

As you can see, the decision to read a sequel is not one to made lightly in my twisted world. And it is with all of this in mind that I tentatively make my list of sequels I'll be reading in 2015......maybe.


As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley (Bantam, January 6). I'm on safe ground with the 7th book in the Flavia de Luce series. When you're this far into what was always intended to be a series, it's in for a penny, in for a pound. While the original Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, can be enjoyed all by itself without needing to read further books in the series, it's been an enjoyable ride and I don't intend to bail on my favorite 11 year-old sleuth any time soon.


Golden Son by Pierce Brown (Del Rey/Spectra, January 6). Slightly risky. I very much enjoyed Brown's debut last year, Red Rising. He intended this to be a trilogy from the get-go so not to read Golden Son is to be left hanging, but we all know that most trilogies suffer from Book Two Blues, so I'm going to brace myself for the worst here. The pivotal question then becomes: am I invested enough to read the final installment in 2016? Del Rey hopes that I will be. It depends on whether I feel the author made a genuine effort or was just writing filler in which case I feel cheated and usually retaliate by withholding my book money and bitching on Twitter.


A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown, and Company, May 26). Technically, this book isn't being billed as a sequel but rather a companion volume to Atkinson's best-selling novel Life After Life. A God in Ruins tells the story of Ursula Todd's younger brother Teddy from childhood to his adventures as a RAF pilot in the war throughout his adulthood. It's also the biggest risk I'll take, given how very much I adored Life After Life. If Atkinson loses the voice she achieved in telling Ursula Todd's story (stories?) this new novel won't be worth the paper it's printed on. So I am still wavering on the fence here. Okay, I have until May to decide. I can't function under this kind of pressure.


The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove (Viking Juvenile, July 14). Okay, okay...so it was planned as a trilogy from the very beginning. The question is: was The Glass Sentence a good enough first novel to merit investing my time, effort, and money in this sequel? I'm saying yes right now because these novels have that Philip Pullman quality that I'm betting are going to be front and center throughout the entire trilogy. Count me in.


Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Harper, June 9). Sequel to the soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture Queen of the Tearling. Someone remind me if I liked the original well enough to read this. I can't remember. That's probably not a good sign.


Half Wild by Sally Green (Viking Juvenile, March 24). Yet another second book of a trilogy, but I'm invested enough to continue having enjoyed the first installment, Half Bad, enough to give Green a fair shot at beguiling me with the continuing story of some *very* bad witches and one very conflicted young man who is discovering the nature of good and evil in the world and finding that lines are very blurry indeed.

Okay, that's enough for now. What sequels are you looking forward to the most? Which ones are you ditching? I'm curious. 

13 comments:

  1. Oh, I'll be getting the Atkinson post haste. I loved Life After Life, even though I wasn't quite sure about the whole point of it! I am generally a shitty sequel reader. Unless I come upon them after they are all out, I quickly lose interest. I WILL say that I am loving The Raven Boys series...that woman is something special. And I loved The Last Policeman Trilogy. My biggest problem is just remembering.

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    1. Oh good reminder on the Winters' trilogy. Damn, that was good stuff. Duly noted about the Raven Boys (I just bought the first book the other day so I'm being all fair minded here, ha). Will report back on that since I didn't care for the whole Linger/Shiver/Whatever books.

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  2. Whoa, I hadn't heard about A God in Ruins yet. Hmmmm.
    I really need to pick up Flavia again (I've only read the 1st).

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    1. Hey, they're short at least. In theory if you were interested, you could be caught up on all seven in about a week. ;)

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  3. I want to start Flavia really soon. After the ending of the last book I can't wait to see what she's up to next.

    I love "Book Two Blues"- I've been saying "Third Book Suck Syndrome" myself after a few trilogies didn't pan out for me. I think I'm waiting to see how the Sally Green trilogy plays out in reviews before I read. I am personally dying to read the 2nd Tearling book-It had better be good!

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    1. Yes, the Tearling book. Hmmmm. They'd better not ruin that movie. Gah.

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  4. I'm really skittish about sequels.

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    1. If we're really lucky, we won't see a sequel to that stupid yellow phone book thing that everyone else seemed to love....snort....

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  5. I want to hang in there with Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes and Laurie King, but I am one book behind and I just don't know. I've got a very good 2nd book that I'm reading right now. It belongs to the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers. What about Rothfuss? I liked the first 1000 page book well, but I am very reluctant to dig into the 2nd 1000 page book because I just get tired when I look at it. Belle

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    1. Oh crikey. Rothfuss. You've got me there. READ THE SECOND ONE. Skip the novella that just came out in November. Then we can read the last of the trilogy togther, 'kay? Cause that's been a good ride.

      Yes to the Mary Russell Series. I'm behind too, more than you. You're the second person to tell me about Robin LaFevers....hmmm. I'm on it.

      Now go read the second Rothfuss.

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    2. Is Rothfuss suitable for my 1 week trip to Puerto Rico or best savored by the fire in my easy chair?

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  6. I'm not faithful to authors who write sequels. If they sweep me away, I'll read a second. If they don't sweep me away again, forget it. Ditched. So, we have that in common. Sometimes, I'll just grow tired of the series if I read them too close to one another (Harry Potter) or tell myself, "I'll get to it, I'll get to it," and not read a second book for years (The Hunger Games -- still haven't read the second book).

    I absolutely loved Life After Life, so that will be a definite. Same with the Half Bad sequel. In fact, I keep telling myself I should put Half Bad up back up on the Moveable Feast list and when I walk toward it the force field stops me, the tractor beam pulls me back. At least, that's how it feels. I can't bear to part with it. I want to read Half Bad, again.

    Like Sandy, The Last Policeman Trilogy was a rare winner for me.

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Fire away!