The Agony of Waiting for Sequels

Ok, friends. My statistics clearly reveal that we are all dying for Justin Cronin to just hurry up and finish the sequel to the Passage already. The post I wrote about this as-yet-unreleased book has been the MOST visited post on this blog for the last six months. Go figure. Clearly I should stop reviewing books and just start rambling about The Passage, then, right?

No. Steph's* recent post about embracing herself as a Black Sheep Blog(ger), has got me thinking about marching to the beat of my own drum in this little corner of book blogger land, followers and clicks be damned. So I'm not here to ramble about the sequel to The Passage (although I bet just saying "sequel to The Passage" this many times in one post will lead many unsuspecting searchers here only to disappoint them). Instead, this relatively mundane fact on my Google Analytics got me thinking about sequels and the urgent waiting game us readers play.

Even if you haven't read Justin Cronin's incredible hunk o' book (and you should, really, you should), there must be some book you've waiting eagerly for.** The next Harry Potter book to release, maybe? The third book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy? The new volume in Robert Jordan's legendary Wheel of Time series? I'm currently re-reading all 12 existing books in preparation for the release of number 13 here. Or how about the fifth book in George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series? Fans have been waiting for over five years for a new installation there, and are now being teased with an HBO series... but no fifth book.

I'm not just talking about eagerly anticipating an author's newest work. I'm talking about the kinds of books that end unresolved and leave us dangling, waiting for more story.

I know some readers won't start a series (or trilogy, or prequel) until the entire set is completed to avoid just this agony. After all, finishing a book whose successor is not yet publishing is like running to where the sidewalk ends and not really focusing on the fact that the sidewalk does, in fact, end.

Based on just my list of books above, I do not wait until the set is complete. Which means I waited for all six of the additional Harry Potter books after reading the first one the year it was published. And I waited for all of Robert Jordan's additional volumes in the Wheel of Time series; I'm still waiting even now that he has passed away and Brandon Sanderson has picked up the series. I'm dying for Martin to just hurry up and write the damn fifth book already, and if Cronin could just churn out his sequel, that would be great too.

Clearly, though, I'm not alone in breaking this rule. Just take a look at the number of hits on my post about The Passage's sequel. (Note also that my actual review of The Passage has received not 10% of the hits as the post on the sequel.) Readers here are not looking for information about the book that has been published, but news about the books yet to be published.

So what about you? Do you wait for the whole set to be published before diving in, guaranteeing yourself the satisfaction of a polished ending? Or do you start piecemeal, anticipating sequels and new series volumes as they are lined up for publication? Do you then (like me) curse yourself for the haste in starting, knowing the inevitable agony waiting for you at the end?


Updated 1/18/11: The Bookpage interviewed Justin Cronin in June, and talked about the release of the sequel, which is currently slated for 2012. You can also read the full interview with Cronin here, if you like.


* At Bella's Bookshelves, a blog I highly encourage you to visit. Right now. Because you've finished reading my new content, right?

** Ooph, ended a sentence with a preposition here. Must be in a fluster this morning, no?


  1. Most of the time I wait for the full series to come out, such as with HP. It isn't a conscious decision; I just usually don't get around to reading the series until it's finished. I actually kind of like the anticipation of waiting for the next book.

    I'm not sure if/when another Thursday Next book will be coming out, but I always check when I'm at the bookstore to see if there's anything new waiting for me.

  2. Ha! You're so awesome for adding me in this and sending people to my blog. Thank you!!

    I haven't started the Passage yet because I am afraid of loving it and being in agony, as you say, waiting for the second. I have the ARC but would like to buy the paperback, although that's not out here till May or something. Anyway, also haven't started the Millennium trilogy yet because I'm waiting for the third to be out in paper, to match my others. With Harry Potter, I waited. I bought each one the second it came out. And I've done that with other series too, but having The Hunger Games trilogy, for example, all three at once, made me realize how much better it is to close one cover and open the next when it's a series you love. I can't stand waiting for a book; I'm too much about instant gratification!! But the pro of having all three or more at once outweighs getting the book immediately now.

    I think.

  3. Red - I can understand that. It's not like there's a shortage of books to read in the meantime, after all...

    Steph - You're very welcome! And I hope you do read The Passage eventually, although you are probably wise to wait, as the last page of that chunkster was KILLER, and I'm dying for more. I still can't seem to help myself though - I'm a sucker for getting into a series/trilogy/prequel knowing all along that the next book isn't out yet.

  4. I am absolutely diver. I dive in because I am impatient. I just want to read the books that I want to read - and sequel be damned.

    I am very eagerly awaiting the sequel to The Passage and I hope Cronin gets a move on.

    Even more so though, I am really waiting for the final instalment of The Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M Auel. She wrote the first book in 1980!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can you believe it? If I waited for an entire series to be written before reading it, I would have been waiting 31 years!!!!!

    Whilst the wait for the final book has been excessivley frustrating, I am still glad that I read the series when I did.

  5. I don't mind when I start reading a series after all the books have already been released, BUT in many ways I enjoy the wait for the next book. You know, it's agony, but fun agony. :p I waited for all the Harry Potter books starting from four, and the midnight release bookstore parties are all such good memories. (The reading, not always so much. Everyone yelled at me for gasping.)

  6. I waited for The Hunger Games to finish before picking up the first one but I did just finish The Passage and reviewed it today. Holy Hannah - and seriously, all I could think today was that I have to wait until 2012 to get book two?? Aagh.... that's all I could think today.

    I also included a link to this post to my blog today, too. :) We can miserably wait together for book two to come out. Support group, anyone?

  7. Becky - I'm the same way: impatient. Eager to get into it. Etc, etc, etc. And I haven't read the Clan of the Cave Bear! I have my dad's old copy on my shelf. Someday I will pick it up.

    Jenny - Definitely fun agony. I like those midnight release parties!

    Coffee - I know! 2012 seems incredibly far away. Although I'm sure we both have lots of reading material to keep us occupied until then. Still, the end - Argh!

  8. I like to wait for stuff to come out in paperback before I read them, which I figure will buy me some time if it's part of a series. But yeah, either way there's waiting . . . ugh. But that's probably for the best knowing how obsessive I get when engrossed in a book. If there weren't a lag time, and I read an entire series back to back? I'd have bedsores from lack of movement.

    The Passage is on my TBR list and I'm really quite excited to get it started.

  9. 2012? Really? Oh good grief - I liked The Passage so much.

    I don't usually start a series until the second or third book is out. The Passage was an exception - I didn't know it was the beginning of a series! (My reaction was kind of like my daughter when we went to see The Fellowship of the Ring - she didn't know it was a series [a huge surprise on my part because I thought EVERYONE just knew there were 3 books] and she sat in the theatre and proclaimed that she WAS NOT leaving until the next movie came out!!)

    And then there are the times I don't start a series because I just don't get drawn into the first book. It took a couple of times for me to finally finish The Sorcerer's Stone. By that time the 3rd book was out so I was in heaven while I read the next 2 books.


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