Discussion: On Choosing Not to Read a Sequel

Do you ever choose not to read a novels sequel

As a bookworm, I have always been intent on finishing series, in fact, it’s basically a compulsion. I have finished reading series when I’m not that bothered about the characters or how their stories turn out, I’ve finished series that have awful writing, and I’ve even finished series where I’ve absolutely hated everything to do with it by the end. Why do I torture myself like this? I feel the need to see things through to the end. I also don’t like to quit and finishing books gives me a sense of closure. And until now (despite having had previous resolutions to give up series I’m not enjoying) I haven’t come across anything that has contradicted this.

However, recently I’ve come across two books that were incredibly enjoyable, heartfelt and lots of fun where I’ve questioned if I should read the sequel. These two books are Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. They’re both in the adult contemporary genre with a rom-com-esk feel (I don’t know if this is a coincidence). I gave one five stars and the other four stars, yet despite loving them, I haven’t had the urge I normally would to run out and grab the second book, and it’s got me thinking about why. These are the reasons I’ve come up with:

The Rosie Project & Me Before You

I already have a sense of closure, and I’m not sure I want a second book to interrupt this.

This is the main gut feeling I had after finishing Me Before You and The Rosie Project. They’re both lovely, to an extent cutesy stories, and they both end with the main characters being in an ultimately happy or hopeful place, standing on the precipice looking towards bright futures, and the thing is, do I really want to see what happens after their happily ever after?  What if it doesn’t live up to the image I have in my head? What if what comes next ruins the characters I have come to love? These books answered all the questions I had, and the character’s stories now feel complete.

I picked these books up initially believing they were going to be stand-alone novels…

…which kind of makes me feel like I’ve been cheated? I read a LOT, of series, like, an unhealthy amount that I can’t keep up with. So when I pick up a stand-alone, it’s because I don’t want another series commitment and I want an amazing, but compact read. Realising that I then need to go out and get the sequel feels in an odd way like a burden, because it means I have to return to something that I’ve closed the chapter on (pardon the pun).

 

I’m worried that these sequels were printed purely for the money, rather than the integrity of the story.Books, candle

 

This one may seem harsh and presumptuous because I cannot see into an author’s head, and it feels rude to even insinuate that an author might trade in the integrity of their story and characters because a publishing house wants them to write a second book. BUT, it happens? It has too. Whether intentional or not. And what if, because the author has been coaxed into writing a second story, that second story isn’t as good? And so it waters down my enjoyment of the first story? DILEMMA.


What if the author caved because of the outcry of fans wanting more?

This point is very similar to the previous one, for the fact that I’m worried that these authors are continuing their stories for the wrong reasons, and that this will affect how good the sequel is. In the past, I have read amazing series by brilliant authors, that have later brought out follow-up series about the characters years later, and guess what, they’re never as good as the original, and so far, I haven’t come across an exception to this rule. When a book is summed up so well, I sometimes think its best to leave things be at their highest point.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

~*~

So, for the first time in my bookish life, I find myself deciding not the read the sequels to two books that I loved, despite my curiosity. It’s bizarre that it’s taken 22 years for me to experience this!

So now I ask you my awesome bookworms, have you ever read a book that is so good or perfect that you’ve made a conscious decision not to read the sequel? And if so, what was the main reason for this? Or alternatively, did you ever read a sequel that you wished you hadn’t??? Also, if you’ve read the sequels to either of the books I’ve mentioned and can advise me on what I should do, I’m all ears!

Advertisements

62 thoughts on “Discussion: On Choosing Not to Read a Sequel

  1. Hmm… don’t really think I’ve been in that situation. Usually if I love a book a lot I’m only delighted when a sequel comes out, because it means I get to be reunited with the characters once again!

    Though… I think I understand what you mean regarding The Rosie Project specifically. I loved the first book, and I started reading the second one, but it hasn’t gripped me like the first one yet. I don’t want to formulate an opinion just yet, not when I haven’t finished reading it, but maybe Simsion should’ve just stuck with the first book.

    • I hadn’t either until now, it’s so weird! All those years of reading…or maybe it’s BECAUSE of all those years of reading that I’ve come to this conclusion…? I don’t know. It’s strange. I’m usually excited to be reunited with characters too!

      Hmm, that’s very interesting indeed. I remember you praising The Rosie Project when you first read it, so I would be very keen to know what you think of book 2 when you finish it so I know whether it’s worth giving a go. 🙂 I hope it gets better for you and rivals book 1 with its awesomeness!

  2. Four sequels that immediately come to mind that I chose not to read are:
    (1) Requiem, by Lauren Oliver (Delirium #3)
    (2) End of Days, by Susan Ee (Angelfall #3)
    (3) Allegient, by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3)
    (4) Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games #3)
    Coincidentally, they’re all the third and final book of trilogies… The reason why I chose not to read these books, even though I loved the first two books, was because of people saying that the third book ruined the series. Mockingjay is a special case – I chose not to read that because my friends read it before me, and told me that it was extremely sad, and I was too wimpy to continue it.
    However, I watched the Mockingjay Part I movie and loved it, so I think I’ll read Mockingjay before I buy the DVD for and watch Mockingjay Part 2. Similarly, I think I’ll read Allegient soon since the movie is coming out this Friday… I hope I don’t regret it!

    • I’ve heard very similar things about those books you’ve mentioned, they were definitely ones that divided a lot of people! (I am a self-confessed lover of Mockingjay though). Allegiant was… ultimately okay but a bit of a mess, and I haven’t read the other two, but I’d say you were probably right in your decision from what I’ve heard from other people. I guess that’s one of the useful things about the internet, we can be warned about bad books before we read them!
      It really sucks when the end of a series is rubbish and makes you question how you felt about the rest of it.

      I thought Mockingjay was awesome (but like others have said, it is weep-worthy!) I hope you decision to buy the book turns out to be the right one. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read!

  3. I’ve been experiencing something like this with The Mysterious Benedict Society. I adored the book. I read it thinking it was a standalone and only years later discovered it was a 4 (or something) book series.

    I’m worried about reading the sequels for some of the reasons you’ve listed here, and I still haven’t really made up my mind.

    • Ahh, that’s a very interesting scenario, and problematic. That happened to me once as well, but in my case, the book didn’t make any sense so I realised halfway through and started from the beginning.

      Good luck deciding what to do about those books! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that’s had this dilemma. 🙂

  4. This was such an interesting post! Yes, I have read a sequel I wish I hadn’t- I loved To All The Boys I Loved Before- it was pleasantly cheesy and felt like a standalone. Everything felt resolved at the end of it- the second one just created problems out of nothing for the sake of it :/

  5. Good topic. I’ve finished most series I read, but I often do this with film series (I’m looking at you, Insurgent). If you’re happy with the stand-alone, I think it makes perfect sense not to read further books.

    • Thanks! Ooh, that’s a good point, I hadn’t thought about it from a film perspective, I definitely give up on film and TV shows easier than books, though. I’m with you on Insurgent, that film was naff!

      I’m glad you think so. 🙂 It was so weird to find myself in that mindset.

  6. Ok, this is freakishly weird, but I have not jumped to read the sequels to those two books either, and for many of the same reasons. One of the reasons you stated can also be applied to TV shows in my opinion, and that’s the money angle. I truly believe that many book series and TV series shouldn’t go past 3 books/seasons because the plot starts to get repetitive and/or ridiculous, but the appeal of more money keeps them going. Take the House of Night books for example! However, eventually I do read them all LOL.

  7. There are only three series I never finished, that I can think of:
    1) Hunger Games – because I didn’t like the writing, and other people told me the next books in the series weren’t that great
    2) Northern Lights – I liked the book, but didn’t feel compelled to read the sequel
    3) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – really enjoyed this one, but heard that the sequels weren’t as good, so didn’t want to spoil the feel of it. I also originally thought this was a standalone book.

    This is actually something I haven’t thought about before, since it just seems logical that if I like a book, I would read the sequel. As it turns out, this is not so. The reasons you’ve mentioned in your post are all very understandable.

    • Ahh man, I LOVED the Hunger Games, but you’re right, it doesn’t have the best writing in the world, and I always think if it’s the writing part of the novel you have a problem with, that something that probably won’t change meaning there’s not much point continuing! Northern Light was an awesome book, but it does round off the story quite well so I get that one too. I’ve never read Hitchhiker but I know a lot of people love it. I didn’t realise it was a series either!

      Well, I’m glad this post made you think and that you enjoyed my musings. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  8. I’ve never read a book so wonderful that I’ve never read the sequel…but there are times without counting that I wish I *hadn’t* gone further. Mockingjay and Allegiant didn’t work for me; neither did the last part of the Unwind series by Shusterman.

    There are books where I’ve never felt the urge to go further…The Fifth Wave was engaging, but not enough for me to care about the sequels.

    Then there are ones so bad I wouldn’t touch another: I Am Number Four by Pitticus Lore was terrible.

    • Ahaha, I think there are for most of us. I can certainly think of a few, which is why I think I’ve come to the conclusion I have with these two novels. I LOVED Mockingjay but I know a lot of people didn’t, and Allegiant was good at point, boring at others.
      I’ve bought the 5th Wave really cheap, but I never feel like picking it up. I look forward to comparing thoughts with you! Will you be watching the movie? I know it came out, but I haven’t heard anything about whether it was good or bad!

      I Am Number Four was majorly cringe-worthy, agreed!

      • I’ve seen the trailer for TFW; even from that, it looks the same as the book – it’s just there and doesn’t set my world on fire.
        The first part of the book was outstanding…but I love a good apocalyptic story. Dropped off the further in I got though.

  9. Becky! You do make an excellent point.
    I’ve never read too many series. Every time I pick up a book that’s the first in a trilogy or a series, I automatically find myself as a prey to this compulsion to move on, no matter what and reach the end. It’s actually really hard to give up on books and then that turns the reading experience from a valuable pleasure to a bad chore.
    Personally, as I’ve grown and so have my reading habits and tastes have, I see that I have come to appreciate stand-alones more than series, especially trilogies. Sometimes, it’s just the market and not the actual story why we have so many books.
    What I’ve come to find myself doing in situations where I am not at all enjoying the book at hand, I simply ask myself how much do I care about what is happening in the story at the moment. Life is too short to be living in the future.
    Make your present worthwhile!
    😀
    P.S. I love your discussion posts. They are so relatable and intelligent to read.

    • Thanks, Warisha, I’m glad you think so!
      I am exactly the same as you when it comes to series, I find it so difficult to give up on one, even if I’m not really enjoying it, it’s like a compulsion! Calling it a chore is definitely a good phrase, and reading should be the complete opposite of a chore. Why do we do this to ourselves?!

      Yes, yes and yes! I definitely find myself seeking out more stand-alones these days. They take up less time, are less of a commitment, and you don’t have to worry about middle book syndrome.

      Like you, I’m trying to evaluate what I’m reading more, and think seriously about which books I’m choosing to spend time on. If I’m reading something and I’d rather be doing something else, why aren’t I? Right?!

      Thank you so much, that means a lot. 😀 I’m glad you enjoy them!

  10. I get the closure aspect and maybe the fear that the next book isn’t going to be as great and that might change how you think of the book(s) that came before it. I loved The Edge of Never by J.A Redmerski and should have left it there. The follow up was a let down. I also struggled to finish the Sookie Stackhouse books. At this stage, I may never finish them. Becky, don’t feel guilty if you choose not to read sequels and don’t force yourself to read a book if you’re not feeling it. Life is too short and there are too many books out there you may fall in love with waiting for you to pick them up. 🙂

    • I’m glad you understand what I was getting at, Emma. 🙂 I just find it so saddening when a sequel is a let down because I think it almost affects your feelings for the first book? Sorry to hear that’s you’ve also experienced this problem. I own quite a few of the Sookie books but I haven’t picked a single one up yet, LOL.
      Thanks, Emma. It’s just such an odd sensation, I’ve never had this problem before! You are so right. 🙂

  11. I am gonna go back and read the rest of this post but I need to say something first:
    You are not missing ANYTHING by skipping The Rosie Effect. Everything about the book is totally wrong and I only finished it because my sister gave me the book for Christmas. The Rosie Project SHOULD have been a standalone. The second book ruined even the awesome first book for me!
    Ok, rant over, back to reading 😊
    (P.S. The Rosie Project is Aussie! So glad to have seen that it’s made its across the pond!)

    • OKAY THANKS, GOOD TO KNOW. Phew. I feel much more confident in my decision now, thanks. 🙂 I definitely had that worry, so I’m sorry that it came true for you! It sounds like you experienced all my worst fears about the book.

      Yes, I love Aussie books! I think they’re amazing. One of my fave authors is an Aussie. I think we definitely need to publish more of their books across countries.

      • Yeah, The Rosie Effect was definitely just written for the money. Rosie’s character loses that caring-understanding edge that made her so likeable.
        If you like Aussie books, check out the Every series by Ellie Marney. It’s an Aussie YA take on Sherlock Holmes 😄

  12. Me again! The points about money and fan service are sooooo right! This is what happened to Delirium! The first book was amazing. The others, awful wastes of trees. And don’t even get me started on Hush, Hush or Fallen.
    I think what happens is, when authors get popular the editors get scared and so they don’t make the same calls they did when the author was starting out. And so the book suffers 😦

    • Well hi there! 😀
      I remember you warning me about Delirium after I bought the first book in the series. Because of that, I still haven’t read it yet even though I bought the book years ago, LOL. Hush Hush and Fallen were truly horrendous, I agree! Simply put: they shouldn’t have been published, and only got through because of the hugely popular Twilight trend.

      Yes, that’s a very good point! The other thing is that publishing is so competitive that a book (most of the time) has to be spectacular to stand out, but once the authors first book makes it and is backed by a publisher, that bar isn’t as high anymore so follow up books may not be as good, if that makes sense?

      • Those books were piggybackers for sure. Twilight put a lot of terrible books on our shelves. And some good ones. Vampire Academy and Bloodlines are both awesome.
        If I have saved one person from the horror that is Delirium, then I have done my job.
        And your last point definitely makes sense. Once that first spectacular book is out the pressure is off. Unless the author actually cares 😛

  13. Sticking with just Me Before You is the smart move. The sequel actually made me think the same thing about sequel for pay (not that authors shouldn’t get paid, just some shouldn’t if their heart isn’t in it). After You was crammed full of crap and was so unfocused and melodramatic that it really was a shame that she was coerced into it. (I refuse to believe that she wanted to write it as published because it truly reads as if her publisher went ‘you know….I’m not feeling the love, let’s put in a GANG TURF WAR so that it’s clear that she loves him and doesn’t want to lose him’. It lost all of the charm of the first book. Will would be embarrassed.

    • Hi Melissa, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog. 🙂
      Ohh, wow okay, that’s good to know, because even with all the reasons I’ve listed in this post, I still had the nagging feeling that I might be missing out on something awesome, so it’s good to hear that it is probably the right decision. 🙂 Hearing that makes me feel so sad after how amazing Me Before You was, I’m sorry you had to experience that. And that’s the other thing, I can’t imagine wanting to read the second book knowing SAID CHARACTER would not be in it, it seems wrong because it’s half the reason you enjoyed the first book.

  14. I considered doing a similar post because these days I’m horrible at completing series or reading a follow-up novel. Most times, I’m just okay with what I know thus far and other times I’m just too lazy or I get distracted by other books.

  15. You know, this is exactly how I feel about “Go Set a Watchman,” which is a “prequel” to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was published DECADES after a book that is such an American classic, and such a pivotal read in our education system, that I feel that it was done more for money reasons than anything else. It’s caused so much negative backlash upon the original text now, and it’s something that I DON’T want to marring the experience of the original novel for me. I also feel this way about “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (while it’s a play, I still think that continuing the story of Harry’s life post book seven is just something that doesn’t need to happen). We see this a lot now with tv series and movies too, that are either being remade years later (and are rarely as good as the originals) or are having “sequel” or “spin-off” series made. I think writing follow-up prequels, sequels, etc. is getting out of hand!

    • Yes, yes and YES. That is the perfect example of a sequel/prequel that I felt didn’t work at all. It left me feeling confused and slightly less enthusiastic about To Kill A Mockingbird, which is such a phenomenal book. The problem was it just didn’t add anything. Of course, like you say, there are still a lot of questions about why it was released, whether Harper Lee was competent to make the decision or if she was pushed, the money, etc. I really wish that I hadn’t read it to be honest.

      I’m so glad you bring up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child because I feel the same way about that too. I’ve always said the Harry Potter story shouldn’t be continued, because how can you top it? Its perfect the way it is, everything is summed up, the fans are ultimately happy (except maybe with the epilogue, lol). The chance is that anything added to it won’t be as good. I also have no interest in reading the screenplay that will be released, because I feel it should be seen in its intended medium rather than read.

      Agreed, stop with the sequels already, oy. 🙂

  16. I feel exactly the same way about BOTH books! I started the sequel to Rosie Project and realized I had already moved on…I haven’t tried Me Before You sequel, but maybe someday to both, but not right now 🙂

  17. This is a really interesting subject! I don’t think I’ve ever not read a sequel because the first book was so good (usually my curiosity gets the better of me and I need to know what happens!) I’ve decided not to read sequels if I’ve not been too bothered about the book before it, or sometimes if I’ve left it too long and the sequels are hard to get back into, though 🙂

    • Thanks, Sophie, glad you liked it. 🙂 I hadn’t either until now – it’s a very odd feeling! Like you, normally I’m too curious to leave a story unfinished.
      Yes! That happens to me too, sometimes by the time a sequel comes out it’s been so long that you’ve lost all interest, especially if you didn’t love the book a lot in the first place.

  18. This is such a brilliant discussion topic, Becky! I almost always find myself finishing a series even if I didn’t like it. I always have the hope that the later installments can improve if I didn’t like the first. However, I’m with you on Me Before You! I read it weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It explores deep themes about life and death unlike the light reads I’ve been reading lately so I haven’t had a chance to compose a review that reflects on my thoughts on it appropriately. However, I’m pretty set on not reading the sequel-or at least not any time soon. A lot of reviewers that I trust found it lackluster and unnecessary. And agreed! I thought it wrapped up nicely. And even though they only knew each other for not even a year, I ship Will and Lou too much! I think I’ll be watching the movie instead of reading the sequel. :3

    • Thanks, Summer, I’m glad you liked it!
      YES. That’s exactly it. I’ve always been an eternal optimist when it comes to book series.

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed Me Before You as well, and I also found it hard to review because so much of what you want to say revolves around spoilers. I really look forward to hearing your thoughts when you finally put them to paper. 🙂 Yeah, I noticed a lot of people on my Goodreads had rated the sequel a lot lower as well, which was definitely a factor in my decision. Yes, that’s the other thing, I can’t imagine enjoying the sequel when I can’t ship the couple that made me fall in love with it in the first place!! The movie does look amaaaaazing. 😀

  19. SAME, especially with the two books you mentioned. I adore them (I vaguely recall giving 5 stars to both) but I haven’t yet read the sequels. I haven’t had a sense of urgency to pick them up because, as you so excellently mentioned, the stories are pretty much tied up. I’m wary to approach them because the original books stand alone so well. I do feel like the popular thing to do at the moment is rehash older stuff (whether that be remaking old films, recycling songs, fashion coming back round etc) so if a book is popular, it must immediately be reworked and the story stretched to almost breaking point.

    I’m sure I’ll get around to the sequels at some point, but I’m in no hurry. Fabulous post!

    • Sorry for the delayed reply!
      I adored them too, and it’s very interesting to hear that you haven’t picked up the sequels either. They definitely do feel tied up with a ribbon on top, and it does make me think – what could you add now that would benefit the story rather than hinder it?
      Yes, you’re right! There’s a lot of that going on at the moment.

      Well if you do, I will eagerly be awaiting your opinion. Thank you, muchly. 😀

  20. I wish I had stopped at Me Before You. It was perfect. And really, when I picked up After You I was secretly craving that same innocent fun. Nope. It was like watching two close friends in an awesome relationship have their world crumble around them, in both petty and over-the-top ways while they slip into what I can only describe as trauma-led codependence that ruined the romance for me. I hope it goes out of print and stops ruining the legacy of its predecessor. And if that sounds harsh, it’s the nicest thing I have to say about After You.

    Sometimes I judge sequels by how long it took the author to pen. The Lies of Locke Lamora was amazing and an unexpected bestseller. Took Lynch years to write. When the sequel landed barely a year later, I was skeptical but read anyway. White. Hot. Mess. Lynch all but outright apologized to his fans and promised to take whatever time was needed to tell stories thereafter. Five years later the third book was published and the quality was back to the first. Perhaps some writers can crank them out, but those tend to be good books, not the great ones, in my opinion.

    Like you, I’m a completionist. The only series I couldn’t was Jean Auel’s. Clan of the Cave Bear is incredible (if you haven’t read it, I *highly* recommend). Then I highly recommend stopping. That book took her 13 years to craft and is the word-for-word passion of a true author. The sequels read like what happens when editors and publishing houses get involved. I made it through book four before realizing I was really in denial, that my brain had rejected everything about the story following the first.

    I wish I had your instinct to stop while I’m ahead. Perhaps I’ll work on that. 😉

    • Why hello there! Thank you for the awesome comment. 🙂

      Reading your opinion about After You has honestly made me feel so sad, but also much more confident in my decision not to read it. I actually saw it in a charity shop the other day and almost got tempted to give it a whirl, but I managed to stop myself! I feel that I would be craving that same innocent fun that you were, and that I would be left disappointed – VERY disappointed from what you’ve described.

      That’s a good point I hadn’t considered actually, it very relevant! I’ve heard great things about Locke Lamora. Such a shame the sequel didn’t match up (I didn’t actually realise there was a sequel, which probably says quite a lot). Its so rare for an author to admit to a bookish mistake though, that kind of makes me want to give her the time of day as an author. That takes guts.

      Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a completion – the House of Night series gave me a run for my money but I soldiered through and got absolutely NOTHING out of it. I vowed to myself that I would never waste so much time again. Awh man, that heartbreaking. To have something so good turn so bad. I wish I could say I hadn’t experienced the same thing. Well done for having the strength to give up! It’s not easy. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s