It’s happened a lot in the past year — previously “completed” series getting additions or spin-offs. And I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, it’s exciting to get new content from authors we’ve loved for years surrounding the same characters or settings we already feel so attached to. But on another hand, it’s hard not to feel like it’s a cheap marketing trick from either the authors, or the publishers, who think stories with existing fanbases will sell better. Maybe they do; I don’t work in publishing so I don’t know. Sadly.
But releasing additions to a series is undeniably a source of massive amounts of hype. Twitter collectively lost it’s mind when books like the latest Shatter Me was announced, and the same with the Mara Dyer book from Noah’s perspective (if I’m correct). I loved those series when I read them back in the day — that golden age of 2014 YA where everything was simpler — but for some reason, the thought of reading an addition that wasn’t originally planned feels wrong somehow. I just can’t wrap my head around it.
Maybe it’s because I’m scared that revisiting an old favourite series will change the way I think about it. I know a lot of the books I read when I was 13 / 14 weren’t the best YA. I know that. But I also know that books like Hush, Hush and Shatter Me were the books that helped me fall in love with YA, and that fact shouldn’t be understated. I fear that rereading those books now, when I’ve read so much more and can recognise the difference between excellent and simplistic stories or sloppy writing, would be betraying teen me. Is that normal?
What saddens me the most is that when I attempted to reread Shatter Me a few months ago in anticipation of the next book, I just couldn’t find the same magic in it. It was like the spark was gone, and I couldn’t connect with a story I once loved so much. I guess it all comes down to the fact that I’m a different person now than I was back when it was released, and that’s okay. We can’t always stay the same person, nor should we be expected to stay the same reader and always love the same books we once did.
Take The Darkest Legacy for example. I wanted to love it, I really did. And don’t get me wrong, it was still an enjoyable read — it just didn’t have the same magic to it that The Darkest Minds had when I read it for the fist time when it was released. I know it’s wrong of me to launch into this whole new books expecting that it would be exactly like The Darkest Minds and I’d love it just as much, because it’s unreasonable to expect my reading tastes — and the writing style of the author — to not have changed for years on end.
But that didn’t mean that I didn’t try to love it. And for the most part, it was a really excellent novel. I enjoyed reading from Zu’s perspective, who was one of my favourite characters from the original trilogy (and I loved seeing her on screen recently in the adaptation of The Darkest Minds), and I loved all the reminiscing it contained back to the original gang with Ruby and Chubs and the good old days in the Black Betty. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I loved it for nostalgia’s sake. The story itself was nothing spectacular to me, and I just don’t really know why this series was extended. Some things are better left untouched.
Maybe if I’d read this book immediately after reading (or rereading) The Darkest Minds trilogy, I would have liked it more. But I didn’t, and therefore there was a whole lot of confusion about whether characters I was meeting were ones I was meant to have remembered of if they were new, and it just felt a little messy at times. The pacing was also a little jarring for me, like there was massive action sequences that moved really fast and then chapters where not much happened. Ultimately, I think I just missed the original gang of characters and was reminded why I typically avoid books surrounding series I’ve grown up loving.
Another prime example of this is in Scott Westerfeld’s new novel, Impostors, however this one was a little bit different. Something I admire about Scott’s writing in this novel was how he didn’t rely too much on characters from the Uglies series — they were more ‘historic’ figures. Instead, what he did was take us on a whole new journey with a new protagonist and someone who I was really interested in reading more about. But this could have easily been a book set in another world or place. In the same world as Uglies, it just felt like the plot had been done before (without body-doubles however, but close enough).
But perhaps what I liked most about Scott Westerfeld’s latest release was just how fun it was. It wasn’t a book I had to think too hard about, save for the five seconds I spent having to think about who Tally was, and all the action and adventure made it something I was happy to fall into. While some of the romance elements did feel a little shallow to me, I enjoyed the aspects surrounding family loyalty and friendship, and gosh, the sisters were just excellent. In saying that, I don’t think I feel compelled enough to read the next book. Can you believe this is the fifth book set in the Uglies world?! I think I’m finished for now. The original series will always hold a special place in my heart, but Impostors was nothing but a fun read I’ll quickly forget.
Whether it be because of my stubbornness towards getting to know new characters from series I’ve grown up loving or because I feel like it’s kind of cheating to write another book from a long-finished series to rope all the old fans back in, I don’t think spin-offs or additions are really for me. I’m glad I gave these two a go, but I think I’m going to steer clear of them for now. I’m happy with the memories of the series I spent my early teen years swooning over.
What do you think about books that continue a series that had supposedly finished years ago? Have you read any of them, like The Darkest Legacy or Impostors? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to HarperCollins and Allen & Unwin for proving me with a copy of The Darkest Legacy and Impostors in exchange for an honest review!