When I heard that the sequel to THE MAZE RUNNER, THE SCORCH TRIALS, will be available October 12th, I wondered how in the world Dashner could revisit such a narrow construct. THE MAZE RUNNER had a fantastic premise: kid wakes up in a maze and must find his way out. There was more to it, but that’s the basic idea. So what could a sequel possibly entail? Dashner can’t exactly stick the kid back into another maze without suspending disbelief further than readers can manage.
Actually, the sequel will follow Thomas and co. as they cross a scorched wasteland in a race to reach a safe haven. But that description leaves me scratching my head—how does that story connect to a story about a kid in a maze? Certainly it’s poised to answer questions left up in the air at the end of THE MAZE RUNNER, and it will bring new challenges, and—I hope—more puzzles to solve. But is that enough to create a coherent series? Perhaps navigating this wasteland will be similar to navigating a maze?
I had the same issue with THE HUNGER GAMES. I loved the first novel, but it left me wondering how the sequel would revisit the main premise: girl must fight to the death in an arena, on camera. I’ll confess that I found much of the set up of its sequel, CATCHING FIRE, to be boring. But I loved the last third of the novel, when Katniss was thrown back into the ring. Some said that that particular plot point was too much of a stretch—but I welcomed the familiar construct. Now how was Collins going to revisit the premise yet again?
I’ll keep this discussion spoiler free and just say that I appreciated her attempt to recreate the structure of the games without actually instigating another round (that certainly would have been completely unbelievable). Katniss and co. still had traps to evade and opponents to fight. Our hero worked toward the same goal she set in the beginning: Defy the Capitol.
I suppose I’m a fool for repetition. If I love the original book, I hope the sequel will provide the same joys. I don’t just want the story to continue, I want it to cycle. Or rather, to spiral—to move forward even as it repeats. But it’s a fine line a writer walks between reprising and repeating.
Do you enjoy sequels that repeat the original premise or do you prefer for the author to find new ground to cover? Which sequels do you feel have the perfect blend of old and new?