Monday, August 18, 2014

'Sophmore Slump' and Other Thoughts on Sequels

Today I wanted to talk about sequels. The other day, I was reading and there was a comment about how in general sequels can be such huge disappointments after the wonder of the first book. And I thought that while that's true in some cases, there are sequels I've loved and enjoyed even more than the first book, which can be heavy with information, exposition, and introduction. Today I thought I'd share a few sequels I loved, a few I never want to read again, and why I had that reaction/how it compared to the first book.

The Eh

So, why are these four sequels ones that I disliked or was disappointed in? A general answer is the protagonist and character development. I'm the sort who likes a lot of plot development and intrigue, but there has to be compelling characters in order for me to love  series and stay with the story. For these second books, there were several problems. The first two, Insurgent and The Elite, are second books in a trilogy. Whenever these books fall flat it's often called 'sophmore slump', or when a second book is lacking the action and plot development in the first and basically just sitting there staring at the main conflict that can't be resolved until the third book because it's a trilogy. In some aspects, I think Insurgent and The Elite are sophmore slumps for me. However, in both I also found another phenomenon was present- I was annoyed at the protagonists. The narrator would decide that secrecy and deception would be the best options to 'protect everyone' and this trope is something that is tiresome very quickly. 

For the other two, Frostbite and World After, these two are both the second book in a series of five, if I'm not mistaken about Angelfall's intended series length. For both of these, the struggle was found in not much happening. Yes, the protagonists were also annoying here, but in Frostbite, I thought the central conflict/problem was actually just part of the rising action in the story, so I was disappointed by the end. World After seemed to lack the action and compelling story of its predecessor. 

Now, you might be wondering, if I disliked this sequel, did I continue on with the series? For 3 of the 4 books, the answer is yes, and the last book is sitting on my TBR. You might wonder why. The answer is that, simply put, there's enough in the sequel, in the characters and world we met in the original story, that kept me interested in reading on in the journey. I'm not the sort who has to finish every series I pick up. However, there are series where one book isn't the best, but the idea and story interest me enough to go on.

The Favorites

Now, let's talk about some of my favorite sequels and why I think they stand out. (I'm not entirely sure if The Arcana Chronicles -Endless Knight is the sequel- is a trilogy or more, but from the description of the third book and the overall story line I hope this is more than a trilogy. If you know which it is, comment down below and let me know.) 

Anyways, what makes these sequels so wonderful is that they're unexpected, and they further develop and enrich the plot and characters. Breaking Point continues on where Article 5 left off, but everything is still developing. We haven't lost any of the momentum from the first book, the intense tone and action. Instead, we learn more about the characters, who is good, bad, and more complex than they originally appear. The same is true for Endless Knight, where we see characters that weren't featured as much in the first book and yet the main conflict also continues to grow and develop throughout. To be completely honest, Endless Knight is a sequel I loved even more than the first book.

Another sequel I loved more than the first was The Sea of Monsters, where the characters were more interesting and developed than the first book, and the story was entertaining and well written. Finally, I had to mention Unhinged as an example of a sequel I loved because it also has a plethora of plot twists and character development. 

In general, I think what makes a sequel great is plot twists, character development, and a continuation of action and plot development. What are some sequels that fell into the sophmore slump for you, and some that stayed fantastic or even better than their first books?

Curious to see my more detailed thoughts on these sequels?
My Endless Knight ReviewMy Percy Jackson and the Olympians series ReviewMy Unhinged Review

And see my thoughts on some of the first books in the series!
Angelfall by Susan Ee (World After)Splintered by A.G. Howard (Unhinged)Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (Endless Knight)

From the paper world,

1 comment:

  1. I hate the sophomore slump or second book syndrome as I call it. I definitely agree about The Elite. I felt the same way about Insurgent the first time I read it, but when I reread it I liked it a lot better. Strange huh? I also loved Breaking Point. I think what makes a sequel successful is that it has to have all the elements the first book had plus some new ones. It's got to be able to stand on its own two feet and not just be a filler story while we wait for the epic third book.


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