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:
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.
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.
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!