Why? Why?! WHY?!! (a.k.a. Disappointing Book Sequels)

Now that the hullabaloo over “Go Set a Watchman” has died down with a hurricane of “mehs” and “ughs” it got me thinking about other book sequels that completely and totally spat in the face of their far superior originals. I’m not saying this is a comprehension list or anything but these are my personal bottom three worst sequels to books that were amazing and didn’t deserve to have their legacies shat upon by inferior sequels written by authors who should have known enough to leave their masterpieces alone. Shame on you…

#3: Year of the Flood and Maddaddam (sequels to Oryx and Crake) oryx and crake

Ugh and yuck.  Oryx and Crake did something I thought was impossible. It made the Apocalypse seem fresh again. Margaret Atwood took a totally commercial, cliche storyline and turned it into a beautifully written story of science-gone-mad with two main characters full of depth and complexity. How could anyone NOT be excited for a sequel?! Well, the reason to not be excited is that Atwood (a consummate feminist) abandoned her complex male characters and replaced them with boring, less interesting female characters and told us THE EXACT SAME STORY AS THE FIRST NOVEL. Then, in the finale, she kept the most interesting character in a coma for the majority of the novel, forced us to hear the story from yet ANOTHER point-of-view and then killed off the best character without advancing the story at all. This book series proved to me that no literary work EVER needs a sequel.

#2: Closing Time (sequel to Catch-22) closing time

What? You never heard of Closing Time, the sequel to Joseph Heller’s absurdist masterpiece, Catch-22? Then count yourself lucky. Catch-22 is my favorite novel…ever…like, of all-time. It’s brilliant. The sequel was written 30 years later catching up with some of the main characters from the original novel now living in New York City. The only thing is, without the absurdity of the war as a backdrop, there’s NO REASON to care about these characters who are struggling to deal with old age and the autumn of their lives. I’m not saying it’s not interesting subject matter; I’m just the way Heller dealt with it wasn’t interesting at all. This one makes the list because it commits the worst sin a sequel can commit: It was completely superfluous.

#1 Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son (Sequels to The Giver) Giver

The Giver is a YA masterpiece. I read it in 4th grade and I still rank it as one of my favorite books of all-time. The oppressive world Lois Lowry created where all bad feelings have been eliminated (at the expense of all the good ones) is so profound, so complex, and so terrifying I still find myself thinking about it from time-to-time. It dealt with such complex issues in a way that even elementary students could understand. It is a work of beauty and Lowry does what so many books fail to do. She gives us a beautiful, yet ambiguous ending. It’s an ending that has been debated for years. I love that ending. I’ve argued with people about that ending. Does Jonas die at the end or does he truly find a new home? Do you know the best way to ruin a perfect ending? WRITE THREE SHITTY SEQUELS TO THE BOOK THAT OBLITERATE THE AMBIGUITY OF THE ENDING AND CREATE A STORY FOR JONAS THAT NO ONE WANTED TO READ! Lowry decided to create an entire “universe” for her stories to exist in (yes, this is before Marvel made it cool) and the books are just awful and it’s painful to see how she sabotaged her own masterpiece to make a few bucks. I don’t care what anyone says! Jonas died at the end of The Giver! He died! That’s how he made it “home.” He’s dead! He can’t be in any mediocre sequels because HE’S DEAD! Why? Why?! WHY?!!!

So there you have it. I’ve had other people tell me the sequels to “Dune” are the worst atrocities known to mankind, but I’ve never read the original so I couldn’t include it. Other people swear “Mockingjay” in the Hunger Games series is at the top of their list, but I’m not sure the first book was good enough to make me include it in my list. The entire series is just a Play-doh version of the far superior “Battle Royale” so it didn’t make my list. Anyone have a shittier sequel than my shittier sequels?

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~ by themoderntranscendentalist on August 31, 2015.

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