Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sequels: What I Like As A Reader

So. I seem to have a bit of an obsession with book series. 

Which means I read more sequels than standalones. 

That's changing, though, with my 30 Contemp Books Challenge, in which I aim to read 30 YA contemporary novels this year. I'm reading a lot more standalones in YA contemporary, and I love them. The minute I finish, I have all the freedom in the world to discover another author. 

But when it comes to series, that's not the case.

And it is because of this that I've compiled a list of Things I Like In Sequels As A Reader:

1) A new question/mystery

I love sequels for two main reasons: a) I get to spend more time with the best characters ever, and b) I get to see them react to different dangers/problems and higher stakes. BUT these dangers/problems and higher stakes are much more enjoyable for me when they're a product of a new question or mystery. Sequels that are pretty much the characters dishing out new information and plotting against the baddies are okay, but not as compelling to me. So yeah. New story + New question/mystery = Awesome sequel.

2) Deeper characterization

Since I already know the MC and supporting cast, I want to be surprised. What secrets are they hiding? Do they have talents they didn't know about? Did they get a crush on that girl/guy they thought sucked at life? To me, it's all about taking those characters into new directions, and peeling a layer off them. Fears and goals can be either strengthened or changed. Anything to get a clearer picture of who I'm reading about is fine with me.

3) Fresh world-building

Sequels can have brand new settings. Or, if it's the same setting, new rules. In some cases, it's a new villain, instead (usually stronger and more dangerous than the last one). Whatever the case, I think it's exciting to throw some curve balls at characters in terms of what they can accomplish in their world, and how that world is an ever-evolving character itself. And the more unexpected and impossible-to-deal-with that world seems, the more exciting it is for me.

So there you have it, blogging buddies. If a sequel doesn't have any of those three things, I'll still read on, but not as quickly and as engaged. 

But I'm curious: what do you like to see in sequels? Are there any authors you think write super awesome sequels?


  1. I agree with your list. I want to see a new side to characters, see them challenged more, with greater stakes, so that I can view their emotional growth.

  2. YAY! Glad to see I'm not alone :) Emotional growth gets me every time, and I sort of feel cheated if there isn't any, or if it's not that developed.

  3. I'm usually a sucker for a series - if I read the first one, I'll read them all. But maybe because I'm more tuned in to the new books coming out, I've been sticking with standalones. I don't like to get into a book and find out there's a year-long wait for the next one (I'm looking at you, Michael Grant).

  4. I love sequels especially for all the reasons you listed above! Sequels for me have to delve deeper, answer a few questions, throw up a few more and make sense to a story's arc! Lovely!! Take care

  5. I do love a good series ;D I'm like you, I like to see a new side to the characters.

  6. I agree with all of the points listed. One of my pet peeves is when a character totally changes in the second book, simply for shock value or some other contrived reason.

  7. I love this list, and I completely agree with it. I LOVE (LOVELOVELOVEx340234) sequels. The more the better. And my FAVORITE series (Harry Potter anyone?) includes some really, REALLY intricate storytelling. I love how things build. How people aren't how you thought they were. I love the connections that are tied together at the end.

  8. This is so helpful to writers doing a series (or pondering one like me). Thank you for the awesome insight!