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Let’s Talk Bookish 3: SHOULD YOU REVIEW A SEQUEL WITHOUT READING THE FIRST BOOK?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

This week’s topic: SHOULD YOU REVIEW A SEQUEL WITHOUT READING THE FIRST BOOK?

When selecting ARCs do you ever choose sequels where you haven’t read the first book in a series? Do you think it’s fair to review a sequel without the context of the first entry in a series? Do you take someone’s review seriously if they mention they haven’t read the preceding books? Should reviewers even be allowed to do this?


Okay, confession time: I have been known to do this with a good thriller series. That is, I’ll pick up a thriller that’s the 2nd or 7th in a series and read it. I’ve only reviewed one book that I’ve done this for, and it was such a good book that I couldn’t help myself because Lisa Gardner is a queen.

Until recently, I didn’t think anything of starting a thriller series from the middle. I love thrillers so much that it really didn’t bother me. However, I have definitely changed my mind since I’ve been writing a book review blog.

Recently I received an ARC from BookishFirst. I stupidly did not realize that it was the seventh book in a series. That’s on me. I entered a raffle for this book and gave the first look a generally positive review. I have now had the book for a couple of weeks and I can NOT get into it.

It’s not that it’s a bad book, it’s just that the author didn’t have any sort of hook to draw in the reader because the author did’t need a hook for the 7th book in a popular series. By the 7th book in a series, the reader is already in because he or she knows and loves the characters. Since I did not know the characters, I was not enthralled by this book. Had I written a review, it would have been incredibly unfair to the author as well as to my own readers.

In short: a book reviewer should NOT review a sequel book without having read its predecessor(s).

9 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish 3: SHOULD YOU REVIEW A SEQUEL WITHOUT READING THE FIRST BOOK?”

  1. I totally agree with you here! I will admit I have sometimes accidentally started a series in the wrong place – but I would never review a series based on that sort of experience. Things are written in order for a reason. The story is meant to be told that way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree completely. I might have enjoyed a couple of books out of sequence, but I’m not sure I can give a fair review for it. Basically, can some series be read out of sequence? Sure. Should I write a review after just having read one book in a series without having read the first book? Probably not.

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  2. I think it depends on the kind of sequel it is? I think there are a few authors who make each book standalone with only the primary characters repeating eg: Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown. You can very well read Angels and Demons, Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol etc. individually and still enjoy the story. Whereas if you pick up something like a Harry Potter or Game of Thrones – it would be hard to follow from the middle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! I think thrillers in general are sometimes easier to get into in the middle, but other genres such as fantasy not so much. There’s so much world-building that comes with that genre that it’s hard to just hop in anywhere.

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  3. I try not to do it, if I figure out it is a sequel before getting it. But sometimes it has happened and it wasn’t always that bad. Personally, I always feel that a book should at least be able to stand on its own a little, even if you miss some of the overarching character development/plot lines by joining in later.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It really depends on that book. Of course, it’s preferable to have read the previous book(s) in a series before reviewing the sequel. But some are written so it’s easy enough to follow. They have enough information embedded in the sequel for the reader to grasp what’s going on. And some series’ are rather loose, in that you find the same characters in similar situations, but it’s not necessary to go back to the beginning of the series. But others…no. The author clearly wants you to have been reading all along. I’ve done it both ways, but I always recommend readers read the series to get a firmer grip on the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! When I read When You See Me, I felt like I had all the information I needed to suck me into the story, but that has not always been the case for me when I’ve picked up other books from a series.

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