Delayed Reaction or Delayed Satisfaction?: When Sequels Emerge Years Later
A new publishing trend over the last couple of years is one that’s been almost under the radar. Or at least, it feels like it’s been under the radar because it hasn’t been talked about much. it’s easy to talk about trends like mermaids or books taking a new spin on Game of Thrones when you’re reading a ton of books every year. But have you noticed recently the number of sequels to books that published five or more years ago making an appearance?
Let’s take a look:
Terry Trueman published Stuck in Neutral in 2000, and the book garnered a Printz Honor in 2001. He published a companion novel to the award-winning book in 2004 titled Cruise Control, but that book was told from the perspective of the brother of main character Shawn. Now, 12 years after Stuck in Neutral, Trueman offers a true companion in Life Happens Next, published by HarperTeen last month. He discussed this book and his motivation with us in an interview last month.
Lois Lowry won a Newbery Medal for her 1994 novel The Giver. She’s written two companions to the award winner: Gathering Blue, published in 2000, and Messenger in 2004. In October of this year, Lowry will offer up a true sequel to The Giver with Son, 18 years later.
In 2002, Ron Koertge released Stoner & Spaz, and late last year year, he released the sequel to the book, Stoner & Spaz II. There’s an interesting interview with Koertge on E. Kristin Anderson’s blog about why and how he came about revisiting these characters almost a decade after he first wrote about them.
The first book in Caroline B. Cooney’s Janie series, The Face on the Milk Carton, was published in 1990 — 22 years ago. Over those years, the series has taken on a number of new looks, with the cover above being the newest repackaging from Random House. In January 2013, fans of the series will be treated with a new book, titled Janie Face to Face, and you can read a little more about what it’ll explore so many years later on the Random House website.
In 2001, Carol Plum-Ucci won a Printz Honor for her novel The Body of Christopher Creed — interestingly, the same year Trueman won his honor. Last year, ten years after the original, Plum-Ucci followed it with a sequel, Following Christopher Creed.
The time frame between Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and the recently-released sequel UnWholly isn’t as dramatic as the others mentioned, with the first published in 2007 and the follow-up last month. But it’s still a noticeable time difference, given how the current trend with series books is to have them published roughly a year apart. There will be a third in the series, to come out in the next couple of years, too, which you can read about in Publishers Weekly.
It’s hard to know what to make of this trend — is it the growth of YA fiction? The growth and popularity of sequels and series books in today’s market? Is it authors taking a long time to pen a next novel? Or is it something where the editors or readers and fans have approached favorite authors, asking for a follow up? Is it worth considering that many of these books are ones that those currently serving teens may have themselves grown up with and are familiar with and can talk about them as such?
One of the outcomes, of course, is that new readers will be exposed to older YA titles by virtue of needing to get the story from the beginning, and that’s never a bad thing, particularly when a number of these books are award honorees or “classic” titles. But will those titles still hold up today and remain relevant to teens? It’s worth considering, too, how many of the original titles may no longer exist in library catalogs and whether or not new editions will need to be purchased and what sort of repackaging they may receive (like the Cooney books).
In addition to the books getting sequels many years later, there’s another trend to keep an eye out for: repackaging of older standalone titles. Next year, for example, you’ll get to revisit Rob Thomas’s classic Rats Saw God with a new cover.
Are there any other books following this trend you can think of? Any ideas why this trend has become popular over the last couple of years?
— Kelly Jensen, currently reading Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt (an October debut)