Dawn of the Sequels.

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Book shopping has been proving a little bit difficult lately. Not because I’m trying to cut down on my purchases (though thatΒ hasΒ been rather difficult), but mostly because whenever I start to pick up a book, I have to consider whether I want to make a commitment to the rest of the books in its family. It’s like wanting to get married to one person, then end up “marrying” the in-laws as well.

… I gotta stop with these weird analogies.

But what I mean to say is: there are just way too many sequels out there today. When I browse the books on the shelves, I try to see if they belong to any series, and whether or not the series is complete. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have anything against series. Some of my favourite books are part of series. But the thing about series is… once the first book hooks me, I know I’m in deep trouble.

ScarletRecently I was roped in by Marissa Meyer’sΒ The Lunar Chronicles.Β I had heard a lot of good things about her book, Cinder, a futuristic retelling of Cinderella, and those good things were absolutely right. The book was fantastic and I loved it; however, it was part of a series of four books, out of which only two have been released. Today I managed to grab a copy of the second book and will be biting into it soon, but after that I will have to wait until 2014 and 2015 to read the third and fourth books. That makes me one sad panda. =[

This is not the only reason I’m miffed about this. It’s just that everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by series. Many new releases are just sequels to past books. Seriously, if you look at the new releases for May on Goodreads, you’ll find that the majority of them are sequels or first books in a series. You practically have to dig through them to find some standalones. I guess I can see the appeal behind series – a writer does not have to go through the trouble of introducing their characters again, their books have fans before they are even published, readers can read more about their favourite characters… however there are some problems, and those include the long waiting periods before the release of the next book, the second book syndrome (when second books do not measure up to the first), the difficulty faced by the writer in making sure everything fits perfectly…

pile of booksStill, I would like to be able to pick up a book without worrying if it has any sequels (or prequels). In the books I bought within the past couple of weeks (yes, I know that’s too much. I feel so very VERY guilty!), four books are part of series. I thought Seraphina was a standalone, but a quick search revealed that I had been tricked. 😦 So now I’m stuck with a bunch of first books, and there are more and more on my shelves, and I find myself actually thinking,Β “Okay, Zen, caaaalm down. Maybe youΒ won’t like all those books, and then you won’t have to buy their sequels! That’s good, right? But oh dear, all that money I spent on them…”Β ='[

My plan for these books is to read one standalone novel, then follow that up with a book from a series. Somehow I’ll manage to make my way through them. And no more books for the rest of this year… except for those five coming in the mail soon. Uhm.

How do you feel about sequels? Do you think there’s an abundance of them? Do you write sequels yourself, or do you prefer to stick to standalone novels?

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53 thoughts on “Dawn of the Sequels.

  1. I hate to leave a story I love, but I can’t stand to find I’ve started a series that isn’t already fully published. I also understand it from a marketing viewpoint. If you want to make any money at this writing business, sequels make a lot of sense. But sometimes I really am looking for a stand alone novel. The bookstores with shelves full of series books don’t have room for anything else. Getting myself caught in a series and finding there are still books to be written! That makes me crazy! So I’m with you all the way in this love hate relationship. At least we’re reading.

    • Yes, exactly! And it’s even more frustrating when you learn that you’re not going to be waiting for just two or three more books, but five and more! It feels as if you’d have to spend a good portion of your life waiting. 😦 I like standalones too, because when you finish it, you know that it’s over and that’s ever so satisfying.

  2. I like series of books, and I enjoying writing sequels. But I feel like a lot of the sequels I write could be stand alone novels in their own right; it all depends on what I’m going for, really. At the moment, I’m buying four books at a time; one Sookie Stackhouse (which I’m coming to the end of, and the last book (I think) has just been published), one Anita Blake, a Stephen King (because I’m trying to get through his books) and then whatever catches my eye. I work through them by reading a Sookie, then either of the non-series ones followed by Anita Blake, then the last one. it works out quite well, but I’ve been working on those two series for almost a year now, and read A Song of Ice and Fire on top. I feel like I’m getting really restless waiting for the next Ice & Fire, but I’m reluctant to dip into another fantasy series before that ones over. Mainly because I don’t feel like getting hooked into something when I’m already following two other series!

    I have to admit though, I’m not very good at reading new books. So maybe that helps in finding standalone novels.

    • I did hear that the Sookie book was the last one. And as you can see, I bought a King book too! I heard a lot about The Shining, so I thought I’d give it a shot. πŸ™‚ Also, I don’t know if it would be wise to wait until the end of the Game of Thrones series, because from what I’ve heard, the author is planning to release the last book in 2020. That’s still ages away. D=

      • The Shining is really good. What amazes me is how all the books are connected together; since I started reading them close together, I’ve started picking up on it. I also found an amazing poster online that outlines all the connections. It’s…crazy. Well there is the fear that he’s not going to finish them at all in his lifetime, which would really suck. I know there’s two more books to come, and I think one is supposed to be coming out in the next couple of years. I might see if I can find a fantasy series when I finish the Sookie series, maybe Wheel of Time because I’ve heard a lot about them. Then again, I’ve only read a couple of Terry Prachett and I’d really like to read more…there’s just so many to chose from!

        • I’ve only ever read one book by Stephen King. Now I have The Shining and 11/22/63 on my shelves. I think I’ll start with The Shining because it’s shorter, haha. Terry Pratchett is just wonderful. The thing I like about his books is that you can read them in just any order. πŸ˜€

        • 11.22.63 is brilliant. It’s what really got me started on my current Stephen King binge. But yeah, The Shining is a good place to start. Yeah – I’ve read a couple, and I really liked that I could just pick one up and start reading. Got some upstairs somewhere. Will have to dig them out.

        • The Shining is next on my to-read list! πŸ˜€ I’ll be sure to post about my “experience” with it when I’m done. It’s been ages since I read a horror novel, haha.

        • What I like about the Disc World Series by Terry Pratchett is that each book generally stands alone. It makes more sense, and is more fun the more books you read, but you don’t have to worry about finishing the story.

        • Agreed! The first book I read was Making Money, and I think that was his 36th novel, yet I was able to fully enjoy it. It’s what got me to start seeking out Mr. Pratchett’s books. πŸ™‚

  3. Matthew Vett says:

    I usually stick to stand-alone works. Judging from feedback, I stop too early for most people, actually. Sometimes I do sequels, but not wicked often. As for reading sequels, sometimes I dislike them, sometimes not. It depends on what they do with the story. But if I dislike them, I don’t need to consider them canon. There’s no pope declaring what’s canon and what’s not, and I can pick and choose which gospels I want. Metroid Prime is in, Other M is apocrypha, &c.

    • Same here! Unless it’s something really good, I prefer to pick out the standalones. There are so many series that start out well, but you notice a decrease in quality with the second and third books. It’s disappointing. 😦

  4. I cannot wait for 2014, either! There are at least two sequels off the top of my head that are coming out next year (Cress being one of them), and sequels are great when I’m asked for gifts during the holidays and stuff.
    But I hate it when there are sequels that don’t do anything for the story, they’re just there for the sake of being there. They don’t contribute anything new and I feel like I could just skip to the end of the book and feel like I didn’t miss anything new. It makes me feel cheated.

    • I’m 150 pages into Scarlet and absolutely loving it. Thorne is a funny addition! It’s nice to get books as gifts. I actually don’t remember the last time I got a book as a gift, which is sad considering they’re some of my favourite things. 😦

      And I know what you mean. Filler-type books are just frustrating, especially if you’ve waited for them for so long.

  5. This is a great point. In fact, it makes me feel good that my book, which still needs editing, is not a sequel. I think writers do it for several reasons. It has become the norm. They can makes more money, as you said, with the same characters.

    My preference is a single book. I also don’t like to wait. πŸ˜€

  6. Great post Zen! I partially agree with you ma’am that sequels are annoying, especially when you are forced to wait to continue your adventure. Additionally, I often find that overtime the sequels on some occasions lose the inspiring power the originals once held – almost as though the authors themselves become a little tired of the sequels they have promulgated. However, publishing houses love sequels. Recently, a woman I know had her self-published fantasy series purchased by Penguin and she has agreed to a deal which gives her a year to write the last book in the trilogy.
    I myself may seem a little hypocritical after making some of these comments, but I on occasion enjoy writing sequels to my work – however, I prefer to generate stand-alone sequels, that are set in the same worlds, et al, but with different characters in alternate times to show how the future or the past of the world and the many individuals who have forged the landscape and lived through the tyranny, the oppression and the excitement, etc.

    • I think that happens because the authors try too hard to make their sequels as good as the first book, but end up messing it up somehow. I always feel like the best kind of writing is the one that comes about naturally without any coercion. πŸ™‚
      That sounds like what Terry Pratchett does with his Disc World series! There are recurring characters and the world is the same, but each book ends with the final page and you don’t end up having to wait in agony for the next. It’s the best kind of series. =D

  7. For the most part I prefer a series of books. I get too wrapped up in the characters I guess and most of them time I find myself disappointed when a stand alone ends.

    However I do agree that the amount of books belonging in a series has seemed to explode! It’s becoming a problem for me. For example, two years ago I read 61 books. Of those 61 books at least 10 were written by authors that were new to me, who had a series and the series wasn’t finished. At least 4 of these books were the first book of a series and had just came out in 2011.

    I spent most of 2011 reading a lot, then moved on to 2012. Last year was crazy (this year as well, ugh) and I didn’t get nearly as much reading done. I had to pick from all of those series which ones I wanted to read. I was also waiting for the releases of some sequels. Enter 2013, there are books I read in 2011 that I am still interested in continuing with but by now I’ve forgotten so much that I’d have to re-read book one and I’m limited on reading time. I just don’t know if I want to even bother. 😦

    • See, that’s what I hate about sequels. You end up waiting so very long and by the time the book is released you realise you need to skim through the previous books to be caught up to speed. It takes time from being able to actually read new books, and that sucks. =/ Standalones are good in that they don’t let that happen, though I do understand the feeling of disappointment when it’s over, especially when I love the book so much!

  8. I usually only read standalone books. I’ve never written a series (but that doesn’t mean I won’t in the future). I guess it all comes down to time, I don’t want to have to ‘find out what happens next’ when I finish reading a story πŸ˜€ Best of luck with all those books, Zen!

    • That’s lucky. Make sure never to get sucked into a series because then you’ll be completely trapped! And I’ve never written a series either, but one never knows what might happen. πŸ˜‰

  9. I have a hard time starting series that have more than a few books out. I don’t mind if they are still being written, I kind of enjoy the break between books, but if there are more than 10 it is too scary to star them! Fun post πŸ™‚

    • Agreed! Like… there’s the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. It looks interesting, but I wouldn’t dare touch it because of the many books involved! I think they were 18 the last time I checked. Eep.

      • lol – yep! That is funny, though I did read the first three JD Robb books…what was I thinking?! I think there are 30 or so more and she keeps writing! O_o

  10. Aghh, I hear ya sister, it’s an absolutely nightmare! I’ve actually decided I’m going to make my goal for this year and next year to mostly finish off/continue with ongoing series because I have far, far too many of them and most of them are massive with 6+ books! O_o You’re so right, stand alone books are few and far between these days. My biggest problem is I can’t read series books consecutively, I like to read other books in between and them come back to them which I think is how I’ve ended up with so many series on the go at once, LOL. πŸ™‚

    • The last 6+ series I read was Harry Potter. Never doing that again! The wait was absolutely agonizing. D=
      And that’s what I like to do as well. Yesterday I finished reading Scarlet and looked at my shelves to find a standalone, but the vast majority were series. =[ It was really frustrating!

  11. It can be so hard waiting for the next book! Currently I write stand alones and like you I’m getting tired of reading book series. If you’re are looking for a YA standalone try Tanya Byrne or Cat Clarke – their books are really good.

    • Thank you! I will take a look. πŸ˜€ John Green writes awesome YA standalones too. It’s refreshing to be able to read a book without having to wait for its continuation.

  12. I have absolutely no problem with sequels, so long as they are good. And you’re right, that’s the problem – you get hooked, and then there’s no turning back. My favourite example is the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. First two books are phenomenal. 3 and 4 are pretty good. 5 is rubbish. 6 is UNBELIEVABLY BRILLIANT. And then the rest of the series is incredibly meh. But I keep reading, because I want to know what happens to the characters, y’know?

    • Oh wow that’s a lot of books. I think I’ll stay away from this series for the time being. I’ve been doing a book count and realised there are way too many unfinished series on my shelves! 😦 But I do know what you mean; once a series hooks me, I know I’m doomed, haha.

  13. Doing a series has been something I’ve been debating as I’m developing writing projects. Right now, I’m focusing on stand-alone works, but the business/marketing mind knows how a series can draw people in.
    As a reader, I’m always a little disheartened to realize I just finished the first book in an unfinished series. Sometimes, it may be better to treat the first book like a stand-alone – for example, I think the Hunger Games is better if you remove the final two books – sacrilege, I know.

    • A series is definitely a good way to pull readers to you, but I feel if one can write a story in the span of one novel (even if it ends up being long), they should do so.
      And actually, I’ve never read The Hunger Games! I look at all the hype and I’m somehow repelled by it, haha.

  14. There’s something exhilarating about waiting for the next book in a series to come out. I remember what it was like when we had to wait for the next Harry Potter book, and it was kind of like waiting for Christmas. Still, I understand your frustration. At least when a new HP book was released, it didn’t disappoint. But nowadays you can wait eagerly for the new book in a series to come out, only to be let down by a plot that didn’t live up to the first. All of John Green’s books are stand alone. You might want to try those!

    • Oh I remember the waits for Harry Potter. The wait for the last book was particularly painful, and even more so for me because I couldn’t buy it when it first came out! I went about trying to shut out every article and person speaking about it, haha.
      And I have started reading John Green’s books lately! They’re just fantastic. πŸ˜€

      • Now that I think about it, Harry Potter is the only book I’m aware of that people camped out to buy. You don’t see that happening for other sequels nowadays.

        • Nope! There was just something special about that book. So many wonderful characters and clever plot lines… it was absolutely irresistible. πŸ™‚

  15. Great post, Zen. When i first found the Stephanie Plum books, there were thirteen books in the series, plus a couple of “in-betweens.” I loved the first one so much, I read them all in TWO weeks! Then I had to wait like everyone else for the next book(s) to come out.

    I write a series, but I like that I didn’t publish the first one until I had three completed, and then I published them all in the same month. Two more followed, and I really could have ended the series there, but I think one last book will be fitting. I don’t want to jump the shark and go on too long. Also, my books are only about 50k words each, and several people have told me that they’ve read all five in a fairly short period of time. I think that helps. I tried to write each book so it would stand alone. That way, if someone reads any one of them, they don’t have to read the others.

    I recently read an ebook and was surprised when it ended without the conflict being resolved – none of it. The author is spreading the story out over three books. I can see a sequel, but I never heard of taking a simple mystery in chapter one and having it end in the third book. I wonder if that’s a new trend?

    So, the answer is – I do like series, and I’m looking forward to writing a new one. πŸ˜‰

    • Oh wow, 13 books in two weeks! I would love to be able to read that many books in such a short time. But the number of Stephanie Plum books is too intimidating for me to touch right now. 😦

      I don’t think anyone can complain about your series, Maddie, because you don’t keep readers waiting for too long. πŸ˜‰ And I like that your books read as standalones too, in reminds me of Terry Pratchett’s book in a way.

      And yeah, I don’t understand why someone would split up a story if they can easily finish it in one. That makes me think that the author might just be in it for the money, and that’s sad. =/

      I think your new series will be fabulous, especially if you’re thinking of writing about those two sisters!

  16. I feel like my attention span has grown shorter as I’ve gotten older – no really. I had much more patience when I was young and read many series as a teen. These days, I do enjoy standalone books or short story compilations. I like reading classics or early 20th century American lit, which makes it a bit easier to find standalone books. I doubt I could write a series myself. I can barely finish writing a short story!

    • I think I know what you mean. When I was younger I used to seek out series, but I prefer standalones these days! Classics though… we’re still working on our relationship. πŸ˜‰

      • I think it’s because so much of YA literature is based on series, so naturally we read more series when we were younger. LOL- as for classics, I didn’t get into reading those until the past 5 years.

  17. Words like Magic says:

    I completely understand, and agree. I actually really like your analogie, ” like wanting to get married to one person, then end up β€œmarrying” the in-laws as well”. I think I mostly feel very stressed out by all the series I have ongoing, and all the ones I want to start. Too many books, too little time!

    The waiting period between books is also something that makes me hesitant to pick up a new series. I also feel that I kind of mix series with each other if they’re too similar. Not whole plots of course, but details. If I could I would love to just read through a series from beginning to end, but I am too easily bored. I need the variation in between.

    And of course, another down side to series is how expensive it is. Currently I’m sort of on a book ban, well my plan is to only buy one book per every 10 books I read from my owned books. I have gone a month without buying books so I guess it’s working for saving money, haha. I also use the library, perfect to try out new series to see whether it’s worth it. Also good because if I enjoy the first book, I’ll probably prefer to buy the series in a set if it’s available.

    Sorry for the long comment, haha. Awesome post!

    • Ha, thanks! Glad you appreciate the analogy; I thought it might be too weird. And yes, there are too many books available now, and I dread to think of the number of books I’d have to read if I were an avid follower of several series.

      And I agree that many series seem similar. So many supernatural elements, so many worlds that may have different names but are similar at the core, so many love triangles…

      I need to impose a book ban on myself too! Your strategy is a good one. I’ve been buying too many books lately and I’m starting to feel guilty, something I never thought would be possible. D=

  18. kbeck13 says:

    I love sequels and series because you can get submerged into the story for longer periods of time. The Stand by Stephen King is a standalone novel but it’s 1400 pages long (or something like that) and I don’t get to the ending very quickly. When I love a novel I have a hard time accepting that it’s over. When I finished Grey Magic by Erin Elizabeth Long I had difficulty in choosing my next book to read because nothing was measuring up to Grey Magic.

    That being said, when getting through the ever growing to-read pile, a book series can get in the way. Plus, I don’t know how many times I’ve bought a book that looked awesome just to realize it is the second or third in a series. Bummer.

    • Stephen King’s novels are pretty intimidating if for length alone! And I know what you mean about not finding novels that measure up to great reads. All other books just pale in comparison.

      That is my main gripe with the series. My to-read pile is bigger than ever, and now I’m hesitant to include series because it would mean a considerable addition to these books I have yet to dig through!

  19. Zen, I think prefer the standalone, just because my attention span is so short these days with family and my kids. Like you said, the wait in between could be agonizing. I’m afraid I’d forget everything before reading the next book in the series. I can see why authors write them and why they are such a big draw. If your readers are hooked, you have a built-in audience. That’s got to be reassuring for an author. Happy reading to you!

    • That seems a common problem. I think authors write series with teens and young people in mind, which is sad because I know many adults who enjoy series too. And it can be reassuring, but it’s also a lot of pressure to produce something equally good! πŸ˜‰

  20. what ‘bothers’ me is sequels to books by other authors – i.e. the sequel to Gone With The Wind – I see somewhere that someone is now writing a continuation of Valley of the Dolls – margin notes by Gene Roddenberry have been spun into movies πŸ™‚

    • Ahhh yes. I know what you mean. Only the original author can write characters as they were meant to be. Intrusion by others just feels so wrong. =[

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