Ageless Discussions: Surprise Sequels

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I am, or like to think I am at least, pretty on top of what's publishing and when because I receive a fair number of ARCs and regularly read up on expected publications but also because of [gestures to bookish twitter in general]. But sometimes, despite all that general bookishness, all those cover reveals and death sweepstakes, there's a sneaky surprise waiting for me when I clean up my GR shelves, or check in on favorite author's Twitter.

I'm talking about those unexpected additions to series or standalones you thought already done, or a one-off. Or in other cases, it's been so long between books, the info that it was a series to begin with gets forgotten. It's possible, too, that sometimes a reader misses the announcement and subsequent publication (this was waaay more likely to happen to me before using Goodreads) of the new book. There are a few famous surprise sequels and then there are the random ones found when trawling Goodreads at 1am on a Tuesday.

However they come about, I've been hit with surprise sequels a fair few times in my life. I've noticed it happening more and more as authors revisit prior favorites and bestsellers. Sometimes these additional books are appreciated -- they add to the previous story's world/characters/etc., but sometimes... they end up just feeling unnecessary, or in the worst cases, they can ruin the impression left behind from the first. My feelings toward surprise sequels are mixed: if there's room in the overall plot for more exploration, have at it. If it's a cash grab (coughCassandraClarecough) I am much less receptive or likely to read. I also have to admit the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird's "sequel" Go Set a Watchman after Harper Lee's death seemed... inappropriate.

Known Surprise Sequels:
Not a Drop to Drink (2013) and In a Handful of Dust (2015) by Mindy McGinnis
The Summerhouse (2001) and Summerhouse II Return to Summerhouse (2008) by Jude Deveraux
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) and Go Set a Watchman (2015) by Harper Lee
[also: maybe the first time Jude Deveraux has been listed in the same post as Harper Lee?])
A Wicked Thing (2015) and Kingdom of Ashes (2016) by Rhiannon Thomas
Shadows on the Moon (2011) and Barefoot on the Wind (2016) by Zoe Marriott
Catch-22 (1961) and Closing Time (1994) by Joseph Heller
The Shining (1977) and Doctor Sleep (2013) by Stephen King
The Two Princesses of Bamarre (2001) and surprise prequel! The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre (2017) by Gail Carson Levine 

Some of these are entirely my fault for not checking (The Great Boyfriend Trap -- how did I not find that as a kid?!) for additional books by the author/in the series. But others, like Doctor Sleep and Go Set a Watchman, come decades after the original novel. That's a surprise if I ever saw one.

Have you ever found an extension to a series you thought over? Or should some stories stay standalones/unextended? Have you read any of these?


  1. *gestures to bookish twitter* ahaha I love that and I know just what you mean! I'm mixed on surprise sequels too- they so often feel like a cash grab that it's made me cynical but sometimes I'm happy to get more of a world or more of the characters (like the Lara Jean series). It's funny because everyone is reading The Thief lately- I read it and The Queen of Attolia back in high school and never found out there were more sequels until a couple years ago! I think that's because there was SO much time between publication that I lost track of the series. I've also noticed a lot of trilogies get extended to four books lately, which. Again I'm torn on.

  2. Yea, I loved the giver, and when I found out there were sequels I got excited, but disliked all of the subsequent novels


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