Some background is probably needed to understand the title of this post. Basically, I recently re-discovered the joys of the library, and one of the books I brought home to read over Christmas was Matched by Ally Condie.
Now, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were good, but the reason I really liked it was because the dystopian society in the book was cool. It’s kind of like The Giver meets Brave New World meets … a generic YA novel (because of the obligatory love triangle). Anyway, the society was awesome.
And then I picked up the sequel, Crossed. I was obviously excited to read it, because I enjoyed the first book so much. But I quickly realized one very tragic fact — this book isn’t set in the dystopian society, it’s set in some weird chasm/valley place. And it’s great that the characters are running around and developing their personalities and overcoming adversity and so on, but I liked Matched because of the setting. Without the setting, I’ve lost interest in the characters and in the book.
It’s the same concept as the seventh Harry Potter book. The first six were amazing because it was set at freakin’ Hogwarts. Who hasn’t dreamed of going there, with the moving staircases and paintings, ghosts, Quidditch, etc.? But then book seven comes along, and suddenly we’re wandering around the wilderness for what feels like forever. I get that Harry had to leave Hogwarts due to that pesky little thing called “plot”, but imagine how much more awesome book 7 could have been if he’d stayed at Hogwarts.
Therefore, I present to you my very simple rule for writing a sequel to a book with a kick-a** setting:
Keep the story in the kick-a** setting. If you have to leave the kick-a** setting due to the plot, get back there ASAP.
I guess this rule can be waived if you come up with an even more awesome setting for the characters to go to. But that doesn’t seem to happen very often, so stick to the original rule when at all possible.
That’s all for now. I’ve once again fallen behind on my work and need to spend the day catching up. Adios, mi amigos!
Semi-related image of the day: