If only readers could order books. I do not mean send away for books online and wait in anticipation for them to show up, which we can already do; I mean request specially-made stories tailored to fit our desires.
If book-ordering were possible, I would describe all the stories bouncing around in my head, asking someone to produce the currently nonexistent novels I desperately want to read. I would ask for my favorite garnishes, beautiful prose and wittiness, and let the author produce a made-for-me book.
And when confronted with the question, "Do you want a sequel with that?" I would say no.
A while ago, I probably would have requested one. During my younger reading years, my first reaction upon finishing a book I loved was to crave a follow-up set in the same world. However, I have recently uncovered a distaste for those two-book series, duologies, that fall in the no-man's land between a full series and a concise standalone novel.
See, I love trilogies and series. I love the way they allow slow builds and long, epic plots that can span the length of many years without cutting out detail. I love returning to spend more time with my favorite characters. On the other hand, I appreciate the satisfaction of reading a standalone. I enjoy getting a complete story in one book and not being forced to remember minor plot points to understand book two.
But when reading a duology, I don't get the benefits of a series or a standalone. I don't get the satisfaction of a complete story, but I don't get the building excitement of waiting for the next book to come out, then the next one, then the next one. The plot falls in an awkward space between too long and too short, making me struggle to get invested. As a result, if I see that a book is accompanied by a single sequel, I hesitate to add it to my to-read list.
I feel even more irritated when a second book is tacked on, unplanned, after the first book's release—in these situations, the second books almost always feel unnecessary. When writing the first book, the author did not plan a sequel, so ideally he or she did not leave any loose ends that require another novel's worth of elaboration. If a book tells a complete tale that can stand by itself, I can only believe that book two will feature a stretched-out, unsatisfying story that leaves me with bad feelings toward a novel I previously enjoyed. I would rather skip the sequel and hold on to my smiling memories of the standalone.
Authors and publishers, if you have to revisit a fictional world, write a companion novel and let your old characters make cameo appearances. Or plan ahead of time to write a full series. Better yet, write another standalone. Your readers (at least this reader) will respect you more for it.
Because no, I do not want a sequel with that.