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Between that and impending Into the Black revisions, I've been thinking a lot about sequels lately, specifically what makes a sequel successful. Part of it, I think, is every book should build on the previous book and continue to be better than the last—the author, after all, should be growing as they go along and should, in theory, be able to apply what they've learned from their last book into the next one.
Then of course every sequel should, for the most part at least, stand on its own with a full plot arc and character development and building on whatever the previous book established. Something I love about sequels—especially SFF sequels—is they allow the readers to learn more about the world the books have established, so there are more characters, more twists, more details and nuances to the initial setup. The world of the book can—and should—get bigger with every sequel, and it's something I never really tire of seeing when done well.
Some of my favorite sequels that have accomplished this include Beth Revis's A Million Suns, Sally Green's Half Wild, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Each of these books expanded on what readers knew from the previous books and gave us more—more powerful (and conflicted) characters, more problems built upon problems from prior books, more nuances to the world the author had established earlier in a way that doesn't feel contrived.
When done right, sequels can turn a book you liked into a series you love; they can make you question the way you felt about a particular character and have you cheer or cringe as they develop book to book. They can forge a connection that runs deeper and deeper with every sequel and leave you feeling like you know some of those characters better than you know yourself.
Sequels are pretty magical, and I look forward to enjoying many more this year.
What do you think makes a sequels successful? And what are some of your favorites?
What makes a sequel successful? And what are some of your favorites? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)