Monday, 1 May 2017

Calendar Girls - May 2017 - best sequel - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best sequel

When the found out that this month's category was the best sequel I got a little overwhelmed. Most of what I read is series - which means I read A LOT of sequels and sequels to sequels. Which means a lot of choices. I'm never sure how to choose when I have such an abundance of choices. My contrariness always makes me want to pick something that I don't think anyone else is going to pick. So I thought to myself, okay let's try and find a way to narrow down the options. What is the actual definition of a sequel? Can it be ANY book in a series or does it have to be the second book specifically? After crapping out with a dictionary of literary terms - which I had been sure would have a definition of sequel, but didn't - I turned to to see what it would tell me. Here's the definition that pertained most directly to literature:

A narrative or dramatic work complete in itself but designed to follow an earlier one. Through the Looking-Glass is a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. -- via The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition

That is a great definition, but it doesn't at all help narrow down my choices. Although it does make it clear that It's more correct to say, for example, Specials is the direct sequel to Pretties and a subsequent sequel to Uglies rather than just Specials is a sequel to Uglies. Sure, they're part of the same series, and Specials does follow the story of Uglies, but it was designed to follow directly the storyline that takes place in Pretties.

Now, after all that let's see which sequel I chose:

Lord Voldemort, the dark wizard responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents, is growing stronger. At the Quidditch World Cup, Voldemort's signature Dark Mark appears in the sky over the stadium, causing pandemonium. The lightning-bolt-shaped scar on Harry's forehead is sporadically causing him agonizing pain, and he is also hearing disturbing voices. Harry realizes that all this is the result of a strong connection between himself and the Dark Lord, one that is putting him in grave danger.

Back at Hogwarts, the students are getting ready for the upcoming Triwizard Tournament. Witches and wizards from two other schools are coming to Hogwarts for the year to compete in a series of grueling contests. The tournament is open only to students age 17 and above, but when someone secretly enters Harry's name, he is forced to compete. How can a 14-year-old possibly pass tests that might be fatal to an advanced wizard? And with the threat of Lord Voldemort looming, will he be able to focus on the tournament at all?

For Harry, his friends, and everyone in the Wizarding world, the stakes are about to become much higher. This fourth installment, with a heart-pounding and emotional climax, serves as a turning point in the series, for the reader and for Harry himself. 

-- via Goodreads
I know, I said my contrariness wanted me to pick something that no one else could possibly even think of picking, and then I went and picked a Harry Potter novel. I decided to ignore my contrariness and listen to my heart though. The Harry Potter series is my absolute #1 favourite book series, that is no secret. But as for a favourite book in the series, for me, it's a genuine tie between Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire. They're both perfect books in my opinion. But to me, Goblet of Fire is the perfect sequel to Prisoner of Azkaban and therefore, that makes it worth of the title of the best sequel.

What makes this the best and post perfect sequel you ask? First, because it not only directly follows the story set up in Prisoner of  Azkaban, it expands upon it in great detail. Goblet of Fire is the first of the doorstopper volumes in the Harry Potter series. It's where shit really got real and your first indication of that as a reader and fan was just seeing the sheer size of it in comparison to any, and indeed all, of the three previous entries in the series. At 636 pages it clocks in at exactly two times the length of the book it directly precedes and is only 155 pages shorter than the first three books combined. That alone gives it the foundations of being an absolutely epic sequel.

Second, and directly related to my first point - the expansion, the content of the expansion. In Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban we don't learn much about the larger wizarding world. But Goblet of Fire is full to bursting with new details about the wizarding world. It's here where we learn about other wizarding schools, about international quidditch, wizarding in other countries and about Voldemort's impact on the larger wizarding world. We're treated to the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament, and meeting all of the diverse people that go along with both those events. World building took about 100 levels in this book compared to in Prisoner of Azkaban. That's what good sequels do in my way of thinking.

The of course, and most importantly, what makes it the best sequel is just how well the story and characters in Goblet of Fire follow the story and character growth that took place in Prisoner of Azkaban. There are completely connected through lines in the two, repercussions from actions in the first book are at the forefront of the sequel. The book opens with the biggest one of all - Wormtail has been reunited with Voldemort, just as Trelawney predicted. This is really the point where the second wizarding war can be said to start I think. And this is where we also see that Trelawney is not the cookydukes, crackpot phoney we all were suspecting she might be in Prisoner of Azkaban - she made a genuine prediction that came true. The main characters, the golden trio, also do a lot of growing up in this book that is a direct result of what happened to them in Prisoner of Azkaban. There's a lot of growth for them, especially Harry, who really starts to feel the weight and pressure on his shoulders by the end of this book.

Do you think sequels at the middle or end of a series are often better than the second book in a series? Do you think sequels are usually better than the book they come after?


  1. YES! I was hoping someone would pick a Harry Potter book! I was seriously considering Harry Potter, but I limited myself in thinking of a sequel as specifically only BOOK TWO in a series, and I'm not the biggest fan of Chamber of Secrets. Sigh. I should have looked it up, but it doesn't seem like that helped you in choosing :P haha. The sequels thing does make a bit more sense to me now though, because of your post, so thank you for that!

    But back to Harry Potter. I could never decide if book 4 or 5 is my favourite, and while I usually go with book 5...I always feel bad for book 4, because it's almost right up there with 5. Sigh. Bookwork problems, eh?

  2. I have to admit I have not read this series yet. I am not sure why! I think I may make some sort of event out of it on my blog in the future to read the whole series, lol. As far as sequels being better than their predecessors, I think they should be, even if its just a slight improvement. I wouldn't want to read a series where the subsequent books fizzle out as it goes on.

  3. Hahaha! I love how your example for the definition used the series I picked. :p And I love that you gave us an actual definition. I feel like you are our go-to in the event for what is an is not acceptable for the theme. :D

    To be honest, I was quite surprised more people didn't pick Harry Potter or other popular series. I feel like a lot of the choices weren't overly well-known and that's awesome. But of course, somebody's gotta love HP. ;) Though, to be honest, I don't remember enough of this series (book version, at least) to have a say on it. I mean, I remember enjoying the series up until book five (at which point, I don't remember ANYTHING.) But every time I try to re-read Harry Potter, my mind just goes: are you kidding me? This is garbage. (because the writing in book one is... pretty terrible. :/ But I'm nit-picky. :p)

    Nice choice and I love your reasoning behind picking Goblet of Fire. I still think Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite, but Goblet of Fire was very involved and really offered SO much to the world as a whole. :)