Off-Spring Sequels: Longing for the Previous Protagonist Generation

Sequels are a completely different animal from reboots or remakes in that people are usually excited for them. Maybe the story was left unfinished, purposely setting up a sequel. Maybe there’s still more parts of the world to see that were only hinted at in the first part. Maybe several questions were left unanswered and the sequel is supposed to wrap everything up. Either way, people are often absolutely ready for a sequel to their favourite series.

I think one of the most disappointing types of sequels, however, are the ones involving the children of the original cast.

Recently, Gail Carriger published Prudence, the first of two (as far as I know) books acting as direct sequels to her Parasol Protectorate series that focus on the daughter of the main characters from that series. While I’m not finished the book and am enjoying it well enough, I’m noticing several things about my opinions of the sequel as I think back to its predecessor. The biggest thing is that I’m honestly more interested in the characters from the first series—reduced to secondary characters or mentions—than I am in their offspring. I was excited to hear how their lives had changed in twenty years. It was grand to see how Ivy had taken to being a vampire queen and changed London’s fashion scene with her questionable hats.  I was glad to see Biffy was doing well as London Pack Beta. The return of Professor Lyall made me feel absolute glee.

As for the now-grown children? Well, in the original series, they mostly appeared near the end as babies. This wasn’t a case like Rugrats. There were no established personalites for me to get attached to. And I’m finding that I’m not nearly enjoying them as much as I’d hoped.

For instance, Prudence is likeable as any Carriger heroine will be, but she reminds me too much of her mother without having the same charm. I know it is natural for children to be like their parents, but I was expecting someone a little newer to fall in love with. Percy seems like every scatter-brained professor I’ve ever read about. Quesnel—who was an older kid in the main series—comes across as your typical flirtatious Frenchman and his relationship with Prudence is trying too hard to mirror the original romance between Conall and Alexia (her parents) but isn’t nearly as fun. The only member of the main cast I’m fully enjoying is Primrose because while she has her mother’s likeably energy, she feels like a completely different character.

I’m still finding the world interesting, and enjoying most of the humour (though sometimes the jokes seem to be trying far too hard). Yet when I read a story, I want to fall in love with the characters. The main issue I’m having with Prudence is that I’ve already found characters to love, but they’ve been moved to a secondary role, and it almost feels like they’ve been replaced by people I’m not having as much fun with.

I think if a sequel is going to focus on the children of the previous main cast, those children need to be built up. It’s one thing to go from an infant introduced in the last book or two to an adult, and an entirely different thing to watch a child character grow and develop throughout the series. By the time they get their own turn at playing the protagonist, we’re already attached to them. While we may miss their parents, the sense of longing is less.

So, while I’ll continue reading Prudence and eventually read its sequel, I won’t lie that my longing is more for protagonists past.

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Categories: musings, On Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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