When you think of sequels, you most likely associated with movies. When a movie becomes a huge hit, either culturally or financially (mostly focused on the latter), a sequel is quickly announced. I mean, take a look at Jurassic World (which was awesome by the way). It became the 3rd top-grossing of all time and Universal Studios announced a sequel for 2018.
But as we have seen with the parade of sequels that stroll through theaters basically every summer, they can be both a blessing and a curse. When the latter happens, it tends to ruin the elements and characteristics of the original movie. This can also be applied to books and with the recent release of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, I thought this would be the perfect time to discuss book sequels.
Sequels applied to books is not something that is very common or met with as much fanfare compared to a movie sequel, unless it is a sequel to a very popular book. But like with movie sequels, book sequels can be met with either cheers and applause or hesitance and resistance to this development. Let’s take Go Set a Watchman. Let’s set aside the controversy surrounding the book and all we may have heard about it. Just think for one second: if Harper Lee honestly wanted to write a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, would it be necessary? Would you tarnish your memories of what you felt for the original novel? I think that is why people reacted so strongly about this book, either it be positive or negative. To Kill a Mockingbird is held in high esteem. A book sequel may ruin that. If you read some of the reviews already, there might be some truth in that statement.
Classics are a perfect medium that are used to create sequels. But in this case, I am not talking about the original authors writing sequels. Here is what we call variations. And when you think of a book with so many “sequels”, only one comes to mind: Pride and Prejudice. Everywhere you look, you find another Pride and Prejudice continuation coming out of the woodwork. With one of the most beloved books of all time, it is no surprise that readers and authors alike would want to continue this great story in a variety of ways. But are not met with much reluctance because Austen didn’t write herself. If Jane Austen was alive today, would a sequel to not only Pride and Prejudice, but any her novels met with the same acceptance?
These book sequels, as great as they can be, run the risk of ruining or tarnishing the original work. For me, I have never come across a Pride and Prejudice sequel that I didn’t enjoy. I guess because I didn’t dive in with high expectations. No P&P sequel, no matter how good it is, can match the original. And maybe that is how we have to look at book sequels. Nothing can beat the original. So to think that anything can surpass that may lead to disappointment.
So book sequels, yay or nay? It’s a reader’s dream to have one of their favorite stories to continue. But it is also a reader’s nightmare when that sequel can tarnish what you remember and love from the original. So honestly, it really depends on how the author portrays it. Was Go Set a Watchman the best way to continue a great American classic? Or was it, what most of the book world is thinking, a marketing ploy for publishers and lawyers to make more money off a senile woman? I mean money is the reason why they make movie sequels. It’s so obvious that same theory should be applied to book sequels.
So for the current authors who choose to write sequels, that’s great and good luck on writing in. But don’t forget about the original. Without it, you wouldn’t be writing a sequel in the first place. Like I said, it is a reader’s dream to see their favorite story continued. But that doesn’t mean we want it to be horrible. Remember, we readers are sticklers with keeping true to the novel.
Thoughts? What do you think of book sequels? What is the best/worst book sequel you ever read? Post comments below.