Book Sequels

Miss Aimee Smith s4028253 at
Mon Dec 1 21:23:04 EST 2003

>How about:  Book Sequels.

>Are they uniformly terrible, like movie sequels supposedly are?
>Why are terrible sequels so bad?
>What makes a sequel good?
>Is it still a sequel if it's intended to be part of a long series?

I am procrastinating from housework.

There are only a few sequels of any kind that I can think of as being equal to the first movie or book. Examples might be Terminator or LOTR in relation to The Hobbit (both a matter of personal opinion). If, under the umbrella of 'sequel' you would include all those books that are part of a long series, there would be many more examples.
Terrible sequels are an offence to the memory of the first book/movie. They taint the name. They downgrade the universe the first one created and you have to try and view the first book in isolation to the second, if you hope to keep up quite a good opinion of the world or the author. This might be overreaction, but I know I can get offended if the second one doesn't do justice to the first.
Having said this, actually succeeding with making a sequel good is a challenge that should be respected. In a lot of cases, the first book can even excuse the second, because you are so happy to get more of the (almost) same thing. The challenges include: having an excuse for a second book; making the characters just as lovable/loathable/identifiable; having enough scope left over from the first book to warrant a second book; and other such things. That's something I admire in the way DWJ does her sequels. By sufficiently removing the sequels, she allows for more room for the sequel to be more of a book in its own right, rather than an extension of the first. You get more of the same, but in a fresh, new way.
Mind you, if you come back and discover you won't be getting the same characters, or if it's set a hundred years after the first book and your friends are all dead, it might annoy you sufficiently to judge the writer more harshly, but if the writer can do as previously mentioned this should not eventuate as a lasting problem and you should be satisfied with the book in itself. Which DWJ usually does, and which Lirael looks as if it might be doing.

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