If you’ve ever waited with bated breath for a book sequel, you know both the agony and the ecstasy that can come from finally getting your hands on that next book. If it’s everything you hoped for, you’ll find yourself on a reading high. If it’s less than expected, that’s when the depression and the feelings of betrayal hit. What are the best and worst sequels in literature? We rounded up some of our favorites — and less than favorites — in the list below.
The Best Sequels
10. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
Few things can match the epic romance of Noah and Allie in The Notebook, but in this sequel — which follows the life of their daughter, Jane, and son-in-law, Wilson — a different kind of love story is told. The Wedding follows two people who have grown apart but seek to reconnect. Told in typical Sparks fashion, this novel easily resonates with the romantics among us, and is a welcome follow-up to The Notebook.
9. Farm Boy by Michael Morpurgo
Like a great story told by the fire, Farm Boy is a poignant follow-up to the acclaimed War Horse. It easily appeals to children and adults alike, as the author paints a vibrant portrait of rural life in the early 20th century.
8. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Fans of The Shining had to wait 36 years to find out what happened to Danny Torrance, but it was worth the wait. As Doctor Sleep, Danny is a middle-aged, alcoholic hospice worker who helps the dying. King explores Danny’s talent and its consequences in a way that is truly riveting.
7. Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery
6. Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
Every bit as good, if not better than Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls offers all the chills and thrills you’ve come to expect from James Patterson. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they follow homicide detective Alex Cross and his hunt for two collaborating serial killers.
5. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
4. The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a fun romp that follows the hijinks of two boys. But its follow-up, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is considered one of the great American novels because of its sobering social commentary. While its predecessor was playful, Huckleberry Finn is deep and demanding, making it an English class favorite.
2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
While The Hobbit was an engaging read, The Fellowship of the Ring succeeded in elevating Tolkien’s legacy of creating a timeless fantasy saga. Without the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit may have become a literary footnote known only to hard-core fantasy fans.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
The third book in the Harry Potter series, Prisoner of Azkaban, escalates the action and stakes in Harry’s magical world. The story is dark, mysterious, and utterly mesmerizing, as the Dementors descend on Hogwarts in search of escaped convict Sirius Black.
The Worst Sequels
10. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
9. After You by Jojo Moyes
The sequel to her hit bestseller Me Before You, After You is a fine novel in its own right, but suffers considerably from not being Me Before You. Disappointed fans felt it was less engaging, moving, and charming than its predecessor.
8. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Another controversial entry on our list, many readers found Go Set A Watchman, the follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird, to be lacking. Fans were particularly disappointed with the portrayal of Atticus as “an aging racist who has attended a Ku Klux Klan meeting, holds negative views about African-Americans, and denounces desegregation efforts,” writes The New York Times.
7. Hannibal by Thomas Harris
With its off-the-wall plot, Hannibal left fans of the Hannibal Lecter series disappointed. In particular, many disliked Harris’s depiction of Clarice Starling, arguing she acted out of character compared to earlier books in the series.
6. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
Readers who loved the action-packed plot of Dune were unhappy to find that Herbert spends the majority of Dune Messiah talking rather than doing. In fact, there’s virtually no action until the final third of the book.
5. Son of Rosemary by Ira Levin
The sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, Son of Rosemary has a whopping two-star review average on Amazon. The ending — for those who made it to the end — was considered an affront to the integrity of the beloved first book.
4. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
In the early Stephanie Plum books, Stephanie was adorably inept at bounty hunting, and she really sizzled with Morelli and Ranger. But in Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, everything that fans loved about the earlier books was taken to an extreme — including the gags — and the plot just wasn’t up to snuff. Some fans also hoped Stephanie would at least be competent at her job by now, as well as be able to nail down which man is the one for her.
3. Closing Time by Joseph Heller
While the satire and wit of Catch-22 made it a much beloved American classic, its sequel was disturbing and somber by comparison. Closing Time missed the humor readers had come to expect from Joseph Heller.
2. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
In this sequel to Gone with the Wind, many of the rich descriptions that captured the time and place of the first novel were lacking, and Scarlett and Rhett proved to be more irritating than interesting. Scarlett was a sequel better left unwritten.
1. Shadow of the Dolls by Rae Lawrence
The Valley of the Dolls was a salacious read that was feminist while also being soapy and fun. On the other hand, Shadow of the Dolls, written by Rae Lawrence after Jacqueline Susann’s death, is full of caricatures rather than well-rounded women. With its flat characters and scattered plot, it’s a sequel that pales in comparison to its source material.
What sequels would you add to the list? Tells us in the comments!
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