Let’s Talk Bookish – What Makes a Good Sequel?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.


Prompts: What do you like to see in sequels? Are there any sequels you liked more than the first book? What makes some sequels disappointing? Do you feel like most sequels are worse than the original, or is that just an old wives tale? Do you get excited about sequels or do you prefer standalones?

Welcome to our last LTB in May, everyone! Today’s topic is yet another good one, and a controversial one at that, I’d say! Or perhaps not controversial, but certainly polarizing. I definitely have many friends in one camp versus the other, and I can totally see why there’d be such a variance in opinions.

For me, what I’d like to see in the sequel is a nod to the original characters and original plot, preferably dispersed throughout the sequel, but even if not, at least just a little nod of “nostalgia” really adds the feel of reading a sequel for me. I like to see at least some returning characters, in which we can see growth and change throughout the sequels (because over time, no protagonists or main characters should really remain that stagnant). Another thing I like is seeing part of the first book through another perspective, this often adds a lot of intrigue and interest, and I thoroughly enjoy it. This last one isn’t a requirement for a good sequel though, just something I like to see in one if there.

I can’t currently think of any sequels I substantially liked more than the original, but I did enjoy books 2 and 3 in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series more than the first. But just by the tiniest of margins. And these had all the elements I have mentioned: beautiful growth of characters (AND their relationships!) as well as continual nods to elements planted in previous books. It just felt like always a true continuation and something naturally progressing, rather than forcefully dragged on for the fans. Other than that though, I don’t know many (sequels way better than original) – since it’s unlikely I read the sequels if I didn’t enjoy the first book. So maybe they’re out there, but how do you expect me to read the sequel if the original wasn’t even good?

Sequels can certainly be disappointing if it’s not what you expected, or the storyline takes a turn in the direction you weren’t expecting. I think the most egregious is when suddenly characters you loved have a change in personality, and do things that don’t align with what you think they would do in book 1. That being said, in genres of thrillers and mysteries, there aren’t that many with sequels in the first place, so I don’t often find myself being disappointed by sequels.

I definitely do not feel like sequels are always worse than the original, as I already know a few series where it is at least equally as good if not better. I’d argue that assuming the same amount of work was put into both books, sequels should be even better written, with the author gaining experience over time as well. I’m sure no sequel is bad just by virtue of being a sequel, right? It must be with not well-prepared, or not well written/edited…or some other reason…at least in my opinion.

I would say when I’m looking for something to read (usually a quick-read), I am not looking for series with sequels. Not only for speed, but also because it always feels like something of a commitment to start a series. I can’t just read book 1, enjoy it, and not read book 2, 3, 4…etc. Does anyone else have this fear too? Maybe it’s just me. The other reason is that I usually read thrillers and mysteries that are usually standalone, and are often best as just a one-of.

What do you all think of sequels? Yay or nay? Let me know in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish – What Makes a Good Sequel?”

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