When Sequels Disappoint

29/10/2018 Discussions, Reading 12

When Sequels Disappoint

Is there anything worse than excitedly picking up the sequel to a book you loved, and finding yourself disappointed?

This happened to me recently when I read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I enjoyed it so much I immediately bought the next book on my Kindle and started reading it, which is something I hardly ever do anymore!

However, after finishing Glass Sword I felt pretty underwhelmed… The characters I’d loved so much in the first book somehow became incredibly unlikable for me in the second book, and their motivations seemed shaky and unclear. Not to mention that the plot felt aimless and meandering!

In short, I found the book incredibly disappointing, especially because my expectations were so high after Red Queen. Glass Sword wasn’t exactly the worst book I’d ever read, but after loving Red Queen so much, it just felt a bit ‘meh’.

And I absolutely hate when this happens! Going into the sequel to a book you loved, you want so much to like the next book, and you’re expecting to like the next book, so it seems so much worse than if you find yourself reading an underwhelming standalone or first book.

A few other sequels where this has happened to me include:

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

This is probably going to be an incredibly unpopular opinion, but personally I felt that the Hunger Games books declined with each book. Personally I absolutely adored the first book, liked the second book, and then felt pretty ambivalent about the third. It’s been a few years since I read it, and it was that unmemorable to me, I couldn’t really tell you anything that happened in it. I didn’t hate it, I was just disappointed since I’d loved the first book so much!

  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

I don’t know what it is with dystopian YA trilogies, but the Divergent series was exactly the same as The Hunger Games for me. I loved the first book, thought the second was just OK, and then felt a little let down by the third. Although, to be fair, I think a lot of people felt the same about Allegiant, what with that ending!

  • The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh.

I liked The Rose and the Dagger just fine…it was OK, but after loving The Wrath and the Dawn so much, I’d kind of hoped for more than ‘OK’!

  • One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake.

Again, I thought this book was perfectly fine, just not as amazing as I expected, considering how much I loved the first book in the series.

  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas.

I love, love, love the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, but I think we really could have done without this fill-in novella. Nothing really happened in the book that moved on the plot, even if it was kind of nice to see the characters again. I would probably have just preferred to wait for the next full length book though!

As I’ve said, I by no means hated any of these books, I just had high expectations after reading the previous books, that I didn’t feel were met. And of course, authors can’t please everyone: I know for a fact a lot of people (seemingly most people!) were perfectly happy with the final Hunger Games book. There must have just been something about it and the direction the characters and plot went that wasn’t where I’d thought it would go, and left me disappointed.

But it does pose the question, when a sequel has disappointed, as to whether or not you decide to continue with the series (if there is more books). With Glass Sword, for example, there’s two more books in the series, and maybe they’ll recapture the magic of Red Queen…or maybe I’ll end up wasting more time on books I’m not super excited about.

I sometimes think series can go a bit flat in the middle, but then pick up again at the end, but I don’t think there’s any way of recovering a series once you’ve come to really dislike the two main characters!

So it remains to be seen if I’ll carry on reading the Red Queen series, but I’d love to know if you’ve had any experiences like this! What sequels have disappointed you? Have you then gone on to read the next book in the series?

12 Responses to “When Sequels Disappoint”

  1. Tasya @ The Literary Huntress

    Contrary to the popular opinion, I actually liked the Allegiant ending. I think it’s totally different from all the “I SURVIVE” narrative happening to all dystopia at that time. What I don’t like is how it goes to that point: the characters become unlikeable and generic, and tbh, there are too many useless deaths that instead pull on our emotions, just felt like fillers. I’m disappointed with Rose and the Dagger too. Where is the war we were promised? What’s up with the magic and curse? It’s so underwhelming :/

    • Laura

      That’s a good point actually, that Allegiant at least did something different with it’s ending. But I totally agree that the characters became really unlikable (especially Tris!), and it wasn’t as emotional as I think it wanted to be.
      And I totally agree! I was expecting a full on war in The Rose and the Dagger, and didn’t get it!

  2. Tomi

    The exact same thing happened when I read the Red Queen series! I didn’t even get through Glass Sword. And I stopped reading Allegiant half way through. I haven’t read ACoFaS yet but I have heard it’s a bit of a let down. I find that it’s hard to make a good sequel especially if the original was a classic. I would prefer to see more standalones, particularly in science fiction and fantasy. Great post as always!

  3. Laura

    I’m glad it’s not just me who struggled with Glass Sword! I just couldn’t seem to click with it, and I should probably have stopped partway through too.
    ACoFaS is probably worth a read if you’re a big fan of the series, but it’s nothing ground breaking and you could probably just wait for the next full length book and pick it up just fine. It was kind of a let down!
    I totally agree though, I’d love to see more standalones in science fiction and fantasy! I think sometimes sequels are a let down when authors drag out a story too far, when really it could have been told in a much shorter form, and have been much better.

  4. Angela

    Glass Sword completely turned me off to the rest of the series! It’s always a bummer when a sequel isn’t as good as the original. The sequel to The Devil Wears Prada was kind of lackluster, and I’m afraid to read the sequel to Me Before You precisely because I don’t want to be disappointed!

    • Laura

      I read Devil Wears Prada years ago and had heard there was a sequel, but it wasn’t very good. I think i’m definitely going to give that one a miss so it doesn’t ruin the original for me!
      And I’ve been scared to read the sequel to Me Before You as well, for that reason. My mum read it a while back and said it was OK, but considering how much I liked the first one, I’d kind of hope for better than OK.

  5. Jane

    I read the pilot of The Hunger Games, but the book disappointed me to the point that I’m probably not even going to pick up the following books, as much as I loved the movies! I’m not into the writing of the first one.

    I ran into an issue of disliking the sequel when I read #2 of the Shadows Over England series. I have the third installment, but I’ll likely get to it next year. It feels about as beefy as the previous novels, each of which have more of an episodic feel.

    I used to be super into reading series, but have fallen more into reading standalone novels. I do prefer series over standalone books, however, because I prefer some stories to continue on, haha. I do get peeved with myself when I don’t finish a series to something, though, because I always wonder what happened. Unlike with television show episodes and movies, there aren’t exactly websites divulging spoilers to books for people who didn’t finish them but wanted to know what happened—recaps for books.

    • Laura

      I think there’s definitely something to be said for reading standalones, because it avoids any disappointment in the sequels. I’m the same as you though in that’s I do generally prefer series, because some stories I do want to continue.
      I get annoyed with myself too when I don’t finish a series, so I really wish there were websites for book spoilers too, so I could at least find out what happens! 🙂

  6. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I hate when you get a disappointing sequel and it can fully ruin a whole series for you which is just horrible. I sometimes wish I could go back and forget about the bad sequel and just live in anticipation of what comes next forever. I never managed to continue with the Red Queen books as Glass Sword was so utterly disappointing and even the cliffhanger at the end never inspired me to continue on. It’s one of those terrible things I think. Sometimes what happens in my head just ends up being better than the books.

    • Laura

      I feel like that too sometimes, where I wish I could forget about the disappointing sequel and never have read it. That way I could just go on for ever assuming it was just as amazing as the first book!
      It seems like a lot of people were really disappointed with Glass Sword. It definitely hasn’t inspired me to continue with the series any time soon!

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