(Originally posted at The League of Extraordinary Writers
Sequels have been on my mind lately as I do battle with the edits for ASHEN WINTER, the sequel to my debut novel, ASHFALL. My latest plan for learning to write a sequel? I’m going to drive to Bloomington for the Truth launch party (Friday night from 7 to 10, be there!), corner Julia, and generally make an annoyance of myself until she agrees to give me a three hour seminar on writing the perfect sequel.
Because here’s the thing, Julia’s accomplished the nigh-impossible—writing a sequel that’s even better than her excellent debut. Movie directors can’t do it (I’ll give you The Empire Strikes Back, but outside of that? Watchable sequels are thin on the ground). Most authors—even the very best—can’t live up to their original work (Little Men, anyone? Prince Caspian?).
Julia achieves this feat by deepening and complicating Nina’s story. In XVI
, sex is a threat that looms with Nina’s sixteenth birthday—when her dystopian society will literally brand her a sex-teen. In Truth
, sex is something to be both feared and enjoyed, making Nina’s inner struggle more complex and relatable. Similarly, the world-building deepens in Truth
—we learn how the Governing Council formed—and as a consequence the book feels even more plausible than XVI
What I’m trying to say is this—read these books. For one thing, they’re enjoyable: XVI is something of a dystopian mystery, Truth more of a thriller. But they’re also important. Like all great dystopian fiction, their real subject matter is present day society, our tragically waxing rape culture. Something is wrong when the word “rape” is used casually in many quarters, while the word “feminist” is unutterable except as a perverse portmanteau, “feminazi.” Julia Karr’s fine work is, I hope, part of the antidote.
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