Sequels can mean big money for the authors of popular books. Even more so if they make it to the big screen. But now, there’s another genre of follow ups to novels that’s becoming popular. Scott Southard tells us more in his review of "Another Day" by David Levithan.
There’s a weird new trend I’ve noticed creeping into the literary world. I’m not sure if there is a word for it yet, but I am sure publishers are seeing its financial potential. But while publishers and authors might be cashing in, readers aren’t so lucky.
You might call these books “companion books.” They are not sequels per se, but instead a mirror of the same book, telling the same story from another character’s perspective. E.L. James did it with her "50 Shades of Grey" series, retelling the first novel from the perspective of her male lead. Stephanie Meyer almost did it with "Twilight." It’s a trend that makes up a big part of the world of fan fiction, but now the mainstream is catching in. Recently, young adult author David Levithan has done it, showing us a different side of his wonderful 2013 young adult novel "Every Day."
"Every Day" is the story of a character named A. Each morning, A wakes up in a different body, a different life. Using only memories and instincts, A has to survive through the day, until he falls asleep and the cycle begins again. Levithan takes this wonderful concept and plays it perfectly in "Every Day." He uses each new morning as an opportunity to take on young adult issues like depression, addiction, and bullying. I don’t say this lightly, but I think that every 16-year old should be handed a copy on their birthday. It is that good.
Well, A and the other characters of Every Day are back. While this new book is called "Another Day," it is anything but that. A better name might be "Same Day." This book follows the exact plot of "Every Day," but retold through the eyes of A’s love interest, Rhiannon. As a fan of the first book, I was really hoping for a sequel that moved the plot forward and added to the story. I was, unfortunately, sorely disappointed.
The thing is that these books seem lazy to me. It feels like the authors just copy and pasted the first book into a new manuscript. Yes, they might give us one or two little snippets of new information, but we as readers are experiencing the same dialogue and jokes, the same interactions and the same plot. All that has been locked in by the previous book, so it can’t be changed. For example, in "Every Day" we had to deal with Rhiannon’s relationship to her obnoxious and angry boyfriend Justin. It was a weak moment in an otherwise great book. I can’t imagine any young adult reader cheering for more time with Justin. But in "Another Day" we get to experience it all over again, front and center.
David Levithan is a wonderful and creative writer, which makes this book an even bigger letdown. It’s hard to tell someone with so much talent that they made a mistake. But David, I’ve got to say, you’re better than this. "Another Day" feels like finding supplemental material on a movie DVD. Maybe it could have worked as a little short story, but did you have to write a full book?
So what is next literary world? Telling the Harry Potter series through the eyes of Ron? "The Hound of the Baskervilles" from the perspective of the dog? How about "The Great Gatsby" as told by Daisy? Mr. Darcy’s take on "Pride and Prejudice?" I could complain more, but I’m not sure the publishers would hear me over the cha-ching of those cash registers.
Scott Southard is the author of the new novel "Permanent Spring Showers" and "A Jane Austen Daydream". You can follow his writing via his blog "The Musings and Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard" at sdsouthard.com.