Bad Sequels, Good Times

Matthew: Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and thought it was great, but then the sequel came out and you had the opposite reaction? That’s what we’re looking at next on Bad Books, Good Times: what makes a sequel go bad.

Ariel recently read Sarah J Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses and was a fan, but then started messaging me every day about how much she hated the sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury. Of course, we can’t just dive into a sequel on this blog. So what we’re going to do is spend about a month quickly recapping the first book, talking about what we like and ways the story works. Then with that groundwork taken care of, we’ll do it standard chapter-by-chapter approach to the sequel, talking about how it all goes wrong.

Admittedly, I’m still going into both of these blind and it’s possible I’m not gonna like them at all, but Ariel and I don’t disagree on much. Plus, won’t it be refreshing to (maybe??) read a good book on this blog for a change? For a month until the book’s sequel goes, “About that? Never mind.”

Ariel: Reading ACOTAR was such an interesting experience for me. I was so sure going into it that I was going to hate it, and there were definitely things that made me roll my eyes in the story or gave me pause, but ultimately? Man, I was into it. I finished the book and couldn’t stop thinking about the characters, my favourite scenes, why I forgave some things that would have annoyed me in another story, and some of the moments that had surprised me most in the story.

I got about 25% of the way through the sequel, and as Matt said, I just couldn’t stop bitching to him about it. It was like I’d stumbled onto shitty fanfiction about the first book. So far it’s taken pretty much all the things I praised about the first book and just pooped all over them. I stopped reading as soon as we decided to write about it on the blog, so part of me is worried I’ll have a change of heart, but what a fun twist that could be! And somehow I just doubt it. My main fear is that because Maas’ writing itself is good most of the time, it won’t be as easy to blog about as the other books we read. I think it really could be fun, though, and generate some good discussions. At worst, we’ll jump ship, and at best we’ll have a blast.

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14 comments

  1. Rebecca Reply

    Oh, I’m so excited you’re doing this! This is going to be a blast. I have so many thoughts, especially on the second one. I really thought I was going to give up after the first one knowing spoiler things about the second, and it ended up really surprising me. Or, like, kidnapping me and forcing me to deal with it? Who knows!

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  2. Madeline Reply

    I’m very excited to see this new format! Especially since you feel so passionately about it Ariel, and Matthew can be a set of fresh eyes.

    Lord knows we’ve all been let down by a sequel.

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  3. 22aer22 Reply

    I’ve been dying to tell you since you commented on Patreon about reading the second book!!! But I kept quiet since we wanted to make it a big ~reveal~! I’m really excited to talk about the books and have a genuine dialogue about why the fuck Rhysand purrs all the time.

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  4. Rebecca Reply

    And here I was thinking I’d never prefer Tamlin’s weird predatory snarling.

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  5. Emily Reply

    Oh my goodness! I just finished A Court of Mist and Fury yesterday, and I was scouring goodreads reviews trying to find someone who had a similar reaction to me. I enjoyed a Court of Thorn and Roses (much to my surprise), even though it has some problematic things… but honestly… it was those problematic things that made the book really intriguing. Describing this second book as fan fiction-sequel is actually really astute. The characters are different, and the changes don’t feel honest. It doesn’t feel like actual character growth, or anything the author planned in the first book. I’m really excited to read what you guys have to say about it!

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      “the changes don’t feel honest at all” YES YES YES YES!!!! This is a huge chunk of my notes so far. It’s all over the place and like Maas just suddenly changed her mind about a lot of things and swerved. I’m going to save most of my ranting for the chapter by chapter stuff, but I’m so glad you saw the same thing.

      I’m still thinking about those problematic things pretty regularly and forcing my husband to listen to me debate aloud to myself. I figured it was best to take it to the blog. There are a couple scenes with Tamlin I can’t wait to talk about, but mostly everything in the second half of the book.

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  6. Rebecca Reply

    Emily–I’m really glad to find people who have read these books and that BBGT is doing this, because for real, I feel like I got bamboozled by the second book. I’ve read reviews where people are like “It was planned from the beginning, brilliant!” but I honestly think it was done sloppily, if it was. I ended up being like “okay, I guess that’s cool” when I finished, and I AM excited to read the third one–but Feyre and Tamlin, especially, felt so different. I know Feyre is saying she’s broken and PTSD or whatever, but it’s jarring for her to become so weak, and for Tamlin to be so…controlling. It sets Feyre up just fine for what ends up happening, but I still remember getting to part three and thinking I had been beaten over the head with the explanation why. And if the main character feels the need to repeat, over and over again, why things are happening, it feels like contrived motivations.

    I could talk forever. I’ll wait for more posts. So excited people want to talk about these books, though!

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  7. Ellie Reply

    Oh man, I’m so excited for this. Also, weird thing to notice, is it just me or did the second cover also drop significantly in quality? I mean, they’re kind of tacky to begin with, but at least the art on the first one had some dimension.

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  8. Krista B Reply

    I have been reading the blog for about 3 years now and I almost never comment. I am so excited! I started reading ACOTAR based on this https://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseypippin/this-is-what-a-feminist-books-like?utm_term=.jfzqX1O7LL#.lcwe49dJVV and only read a few pages and was not into it. Then I saw Ariel commenting that she ended up liking it, so I kept going and got into it after the first couple of chapters. Now it is sticking with me more than I expected. I was just thinking I need to Google reviews and then I saw BBGT is doing it! I just started ACOMAF and I’m sad to hear it isn’t very good. I’m not very far in at all, but I’m already sad that Feyre just gives in when Tamlin won’t let her go with him to the village – that’s not the girl we know. Also, I am confused that Tamlin has NEVER asked her about her nightmares…? This relationship seems strange now and I’m only in Chapter 3.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      YAY I’m so glad ACOTAR has brought the commenter out in you! Thank you for sticking with us all these years <333

      "I’m already sad that Feyre just gives in when Tamlin won’t let her go with him to the village – that’s not the girl we know. Also, I am confused that Tamlin has NEVER asked her about her nightmares…?" RIGHT??? It's one thing for Feyre and Tamlin to be damaged by everything they went through, but it felt like a complete departure from who they were and a disservice to the characters.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Also I read that Buzzfeed list and there are SO many books I want to read/re-read from it. Thanks for linking!

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  9. E.H.Taylor Reply

    I’m so looking forward to this! Life has gotten crazy and I (reluctantly) haven’t been reading this blog as avidly as I have in the past, but I can’t not for this. I loved the first book, read about 5 chapters into book 2 and had to put it down – haven’t picked it up again.

    It was this way for me with Mockingjay as well, and to a lesser degree with the second Divergent book (I wasn’t huge on the first one, but I didn’t hate it). They all read like they were written by completely different people!

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      YAY!!!! Excited to have you on board for this 🙂 It’s been really fun to blog about so far since there are enough silly parts mixed in with the good scenes for it to not be a slog to recap.

      It sounds like you got about as far as I am with ACOMAF. I’ve heard some people say it gets better, but I feel pretty confident about writing about it on here.

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  10. AW Reply

    You guys — WHAT???

    I thoroughly enjoyed ACOTAR and was then blown out of the water by ACOMAF. I thought it was such a brilliant twist on the Twilight-esque love story, dealing with the real-world, long-term consequences of a powerful, controlling lover who is terrified about your safety to the point that he, say, takes apart your car’s engine or otherwise limits your mobility/freedom/actions.

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