Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Curse of the Sequel

Ugh, the dreaded sequel. Yes, we yearn for them. How could we not? Readers, movie watchers-people always want “the rest of the story”. Yet how often do we sit in that theater or pick up that book in eager anticipation, only to slink away in disgust and irritation? In an age where everything is a series we too often find ourselves in this predicament. As we head into a summer of mega-sequel films, i.e. Eclipse, Iron Man 2, Sex and the City 2, and a slew of other blockbusters cashing in on previous popularity we must ask ourselves: Is it worth it? This same question could be asked regarding upcoming sequels in the book world. Will Steig Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest be as gritty and captivating as his first two books? What about Scott Turow’s long-awaited sequel to Presumed Innocent or the latest (and final, I believe) book in the Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files series, will these hold-up to expectations or just make us wish that we never started reading in the first place? Who knows? Well actually, I can attest that new Lisa Lutz, The Spellmans Strike Again is a worthy read, but the jury is still out on the others.

So, what’s my point? Is this a short rant about authors and moviemakers who can’t come up with an original idea so they recycle their characters until you want them to be killed off already? Please, that’s a book in itself. Actually I have a different bone to pick with sequels, namely WTF, don’t leave me hanging! I actually had the pleasure of reading a couple of fantastic sequels and now I am stuck, hanging over that ridiculous precipice, while I have to wait several months, possibly a year in one case to find out what happens next. It’s like watching your favorite drama and getting a To Be Continued… but instead of picking it up the following week when the plot is still fresh in your mind, you have to wait a year or more. By the time the next book comes out you’ve completely forgotten half of the characters, and forget about any subtleties in the plot, those went out the mental door weeks after you finished the last book. So, here I am, I’ve read Linger by Maggie Stiefvater and Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink, and I am left hanging literally dangling over the edge of the cliffs, nails bitten to the quick because I don’t even know when third books in these series will be released, oh and did I mention, these two books have not even been released yet! I read advanced copies. Oh curse you writers who have to write a series instead of just putting it all in a 1,000-page book (yes I’d prefer the ridiculously long text to having it handed out in small parcels, patience is not a quality I possess). Wait, Justin Cronin did do that, except of course when I got to the end of those 1,000 pages I came to the frustrating realization that The Passage was going to be a series. Seriously?! Now I’m sitting in sequel purgatory. I’ve read Gail Carriger’s Changeless, another fantastic read from someone who is quickly earning a place on my favorite author list, if not for her wonderful storytelling, but for the fact that she’s not making me wait forever for the next book, Blameless (although I am crying for it now) because glory oh glory, the pub date is in September.

Alright, I’m about done. I must say I’m not ranting in anger, more like saying “these books are so good I must keep on reading to find out what happens next”. I think these authors are wonderful storytellers, I wouldn’t mention them, or sell them for that matter, if I didn’t think so. If anything, I would take the time to blast them for incompetence, because let’s face it, I love to do that. Now, what did we learn from this post? Authors, stop with the series’, unless you can pop them out quickly and if you don’t, beware, I will single you out and the next time it won’t be pretty.