Sequels- love them or hate them?

June 24, 2010

I read an article in the New York Times this morning about the sequel to one of my favorite books, “Less Than Zero” which is “Imperial Bedrooms” by Bret Easton Ellis. The reviewer states that this is not one of Ellis’s best works as it is his polarizing books like “American Psycho” that show his range and that this novel does not have much to offer to new readers. It starts me thinking on the place of sequels or continuations. We all know how many movie sequels are produced but also in the book world. I cannot count the numbers of sequels that are written and read but it becomes a question of being better than the original. Most sequels seem produced for money nowadays but years ago, a three-volume novel was the norm and people waited patiently for it. Have we become jaded in our world that we automatically disparage continuations of our favorite works instead of looking to the publishing past to see the truth? We have done this for centuries so why would we dare stop now?


One Response to “Sequels- love them or hate them?”

  1. Jessica Says:

    I think there’s a bit difference between a serialized novel (and for that matter books written intending to be part of a series) and sequels written after a book does well or because an author wanted to revisit an existing world/set of characters. A serial novel is not really complete until it’s finished, though ideally the parts function as reasonably complete acts on their own, with minor arcs complementing or supplementing the larger plot.

    A satisfying novel that’s written to stand alone will either tie up loose ends or at least create a situation where the reader can imagine the characters’ subsequent lives, and hopefully come to some sort of emotional closure. Sequels can be great, if well done, but if they undo that closure, or introduce new conflicts or plotlines that don’t feel organic to the original, it can be disappointing. Even with character driven books, when we’re just looking in on the odd happenings of some individuals for a while and it seems like it would be easy to look in again a little later, I think there needs to feel like there’s a good reason to do so, or the sequel has to really stand as a very good book, or it feels like it’s undermining the original or failing to live up to it.

    Also, less so (presumably?) with Bret Easton Ellis, but given how popular fanfic is with particular types of books, and how bitchy people get even with subsequent books in series that go against what they imagined for the characters, people feel invested in what they think will happen, and have to feel it’s worth it to be shown they’re wrong. There’re clear problems with feeling this way, but still.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s