6 Delayed Series Installments that Kept Readers on the Hook

on July 20, 2015


Better Late Than Never?

The literary community is reeling over the release of Harper Lee\'s follow-up to the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird. The 92-year-old author released Go Set a Watchman last week, over half a century after its predecessor hit the shelves. To honor this momentous occasion for the bibliophile in us all, here are 6 other sequels and follow-ups that kept bookworms waiting.


Closing Time (Joseph Heller, 1994)

In one of the most confusing follow-up releases of all time, Joseph Heller published Closing Time in 1994 to \"sum up\" the events of the 1961 satire Catch-22. The sequel, set in 1990s New York City, revisits some members of Catch-22\'s 256th Squadron and is noted for inconsistency in the passage of time between the two storylines.


The Widows of Eastwick (John Updike, 2008)

In 1984, John Updike veered from the path of his acclaimed Rabbit quartet with The Witches of Eastwick, set during the Vietnam War and often labeled a satire of liberationist ideas. Updike revisits Alexandra, Sukie and Jane nearly a quarter century after Witches with The Widows of Eastwick, set thirty years after former\'s conclusion. Widows sees the Witches reunite in what was once Van Horne\'s mansion, having travelled and fallen out of touch, and after all three have been remarried and widowed. It\'s no surprise when dark magic finds the trio once again, with lethal results.


Scarlett (Alexandra Ripley, 1991)

Years after scoundrel Rhett Butler broke their hearts, fans of Margaret Mitchell\'s iconic 1936 depiction of the genteel south caught a glimmer of hope with the release of a 1991 sequel. Mitchell herself, of course, was long deceased-her estate commissioned Scarlett on her behalf. While the sequel enjoyed commercial success, critics seemed to liken its literary quality compared with that of Gone With the Wind to Mammy\'s opinion of the new money of the antebellum South: \"a mule in a horse\'s harness.\"

Bonus: 2007 brought us Rhett Butler\'s People, yet another authorized sequel by Donald McCaig. Frankly, my dear, this inconsistent portrait of Butler\'s life-which merely peppered a more enthusiastic depiction of the Civil War-was yet another revival attempt that fell flat for most fans of Mitchell\'s romantic classic.


Dr. Sleep (Stephen King, 2013)

If iconic 1977 horror favorite The Shining doesn\'t haunt readers to this day, Dr. Sleep will happily inhabit dreams with a check-in on Danny Torrance\'s mental health in the wake of the Overlook Hotel incidents. Hint: it\'s not so good. Now-adult Dan uses his \"shining\" abilities to comfort dying hospice patients, and angry ghosts from his past find and torment him. As if that weren\'t enough to occupy anyone\'s mind, Dan must also save a young girl with her own shining from a group that feeds on the essence of dying psychics.

Bonus: King\'s readers are among the most patient. His Dark Tower series, for example, has spanned more than 30 years.


The Coal War (Upton Sinclair, 1976)

Not long after King Coal illustrated the brutal working conditions in the mines of 1917\'s western United States, Upton Sinclair once again swung his pick at the coal mining industry in the sequel, The Coal War. However, publishers did not find it engaging enough to release, and it was tabled. After Sinclair\'s death, however, The Colorado Associated University Press took a chance on The Coal War and published it 59 years after its predecessor.

Washington Post

Sycamore Row (John Grisham, 2013)

In 1989, John Grisham thrilled readers with his legal drama A Time to Kill, a charged story of the small-town Mississippi murder trial of Carl Lee Hailey, a black man who sought to avenge his daughter by killing one of her white attackers. In 2013, Grisham took his audience back to the courtroom in Sycamore Row. The sequel again centers on Jake Brigance, whose life remains in shambles due to the KKK\'s backlash against his representation of Hailey in court three years prior. This time, though, Jake\'s legal success has entrenched him in the family battle over the estate of Seth Hubbard, who has hung himself from a sycamore tree because he can no longer endure his battle with terminal cancer.