It’s always interesting to see which of my posts were the most popular over a given year. Of my 10 most popular posts, only two were actually published in 2018.
For whatever reason, my most popular posts are often from previous years. Here are 10 posts that I think should have gotten more love last year.
10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings: Some people think happy endings signal a book that isn’t as important or good. I disagree.
The 10 Worst Couples in Fiction: There are just some couples who irritate me or who are just terrible for one another. These are the worst.
How Querying is Like Online Dating: It really, really is.
Do Happy Endings Exist? Maybe?
#sorrynotsorry 5 Books I Love That Others (Claim To) Hate: I don’t think anyone should apologize for their choices in entertainment.
Ten Things I’ve Learned From My Writing Critique Group: Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without them. I’ve learned way more than just ten things.
Please Stop- Tropes I Hate: Enough is enough. (These mostly apply to YA)
Shut Up And Take My Money! Tropes I Love: I’ll never stop loving these. (Again, mostly YA)
7 Reasons I’m (Mostly) Over Sequels: With few exceptions, sequels tend to be meh.
10 Ways To Waste Time Instead of Writing: Why do writers dream of writing, but when they sit at their computers, waste time? (No, seriously… why?)
So, earlier this week, I talked about why I’m not into sequels. But that doesn’t mean all sequels are bad! Here are ten I love.
- In Death, by JD Robb (mystery/ romance): The series follows Eve Dallas, a homicide detective, as she solves murders and continues to figure out how marriage works. Each book is an individual mystery, but Dallas’s character arc continues as she makes friends, pisses people off, and tries to balance being totally invested in her job and being totally invested in her marriage. This series has over 40 books in it, and I rush to get a copy every time it’s released. While I like some of them better than others, they never disappoint.
- Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King, the sequel to The Shining (horror): “It’s going to suck,” I thought. “There’s nothing else that I can possibly want to see in this story,” I thought. Danny has become an alcoholic to deal with all the things he knows. I was prepared to quit this story. Instead, I was drawn into the plot, and I loved Danny as much as an adult as I did when he was a cute kid. It’s not quite what the back cover copy promises, but it’s still good. If you loved The Shining, it’s worth giving it a shot.
- The Wedding, by Nicholas Sparks, the sequel to The Notebook (romance): I thought nothing could ever be as moving as Allie and Noah’s relationship in The Notebook, but I was wrong. Even though (SPOILER ALERT) Allie dies at the end of The Notebook, Noah’s love for her is still as vital as he helps his son-in-law rekindle his romance.
- After You, Still Me, by Jojo Moyes, the sequels to Me Before You (romance): I didn’t think there could possibly be any more to say after Me Before You, but I was wrong. Luisa has so much more life to live, and though she’ll never forget Will, she has to find a way to make life go on. Luisa is one of those characters that jump off the page. Both books had fresh plots that meant I couldn’t put them down.
- Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, by Thomas Harris, technically sequels to Red Dragon (horror/ thriller): Hannibal Lecter doesn’t play a huge role in Red Dragon, but he is there and they’re all set in the same universe. There are a lot of people out there who didn’t like Hannibal, but I love everything about it. I was devastated that the movie changed the ending. (If you hated the book, let’s discuss.) Both Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling are complex and fascinating characters who I can’t get enough of. I realize Hannibal Rising is part of this series, but it just wasn’t for me.
- Harry Potter and All The Sequels (YA fantasy), by JK Rowling, sequel to Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone: I loved every single one of these books in different ways and for different reasons. There was never a time when I was ready to be done with this universe. If there were continuity errors or anything like that, I don’t care.
- The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Steig Larsson, sequels to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (mystery): Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salandar are fascinating characters and the plots of the sequels drew me in as much as the original. They’re flawed but vibrant characters set inside interesting mysteries.
- The Dream Thieves; Lily Blue, Blue Lily; The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater, the sequels to The Raven Boys (YA paranormal): I read the first book on a trip. I had it on audiobook, and for some reason, I wasn’t into it. I tried to switch to another book, but I didn’t have enough reception to download a different book. My choices were to keep going or listen to silence. I’M SO GLAD I KEPT GOING. While the books (especially the last one) had their flaws, overall, the series was totally worth it and paid off most of the promises the first book made.
- Where She Went, Gayle Forman, the sequel to If I Stay (YA romance): This is one of those rare sequels I liked better than the first. To be clear, I loved the first book, but I loved the second one even more. I can start anywhere in Where She Went and just start reading. Both books spoke to me and tugged on all my heartstrings.
10. Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake, the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood (YA horror): Anna was such a fresh, interesting ghost in the first book that I was happy to see what happened to her and her beloved ghost hunter.
What are your favorite sequels?
I used to be a dedicated sequel reader. If I liked the first book, I HAD TO read the rest of the series. In my mind, the story wasn’t finished until I read the whole thing. There was even a time I wouldn’t start the first book until the whole series was out, assuming I knew ahead of time.
In recent years, I’ve become less committed to reading sequels. Here’s why:
- The first book is usually the best. Especially in the case of trilogies, the second book often seems like filler, and then the third finishes the story, but not always in a way I wanted.
- The first book tells a complete story. Most first books don’t have huge cliffhangers. Knowing what I now know about the publishing industry, they wait to see if there’s going to be an audience before they commit to the others in the series. If I liked the ride in the first one, why keep going?
- If there’s a romance in book one, there’s a break-up (or at least lots of conflict) in book 2. I like happily ever afters (or happy for nows). Usually, the romantic conflict in book 1 makes sense. In book 2, it often feels like the author said, “Okay, I need to add conflict in this relationship so here’s this random thing to arbitrarily break the characters up, only for them to make up by the end of book 2 then split up again in 3.” It causes me anxiety I don’t need. I’m an unrepentent shipper.
- There are often plot holes or continuity errors. It’s really hard to anticipate every single thing you need to put in a book. So if the entire series wasn’t plotted out before book 1 was written, sometimes things get lost.
- Resolved conflicts often get rehashed. At the end of book 1, everything seemed great. The antagonist was vanquished, the character arc was completed, birds sang and flowers bloomed. But in book 2, forget all that. The character is backsliding and the villain wasn’t really dead. I know in real life, change doesn’t always stick, but if I wanted real life, I wouldn’t be reading, would I?
- Often I like the ending I pictured for a character better than what happens. Where a book ends changes it’s meaning. In real life, couples break up, good plans go bad, and happily ever after isn’t simple. But a book, depending on where it ends, can freeze a wonderful moment in time. The sequel has to introduce conflict and sometimes ends up going in a direction I don’t want to see happen for a character I love (or hate).
- A character changes… too much. There are some series I loved. I loved the character and their arc that crossed several sequels. But then the character started to change in ways I didn’t like. They went in directions I never wanted to see. So at some point, I just stopped reading. I kind of wish I’d stopped before things went so wrong.
I don’t hate every sequel, of course. I loved all the Harry Potter books (because I’m not dead inside) and I will follow Jojo Moyes anywhere. It’s just that… there are too many books out there for me to live with the disappointment that sums up most sequels.
What’s your take on sequels?