I’ve always been ambivalent about sequels. Some sequels can be great, tying up loose ends and feeling like an extended vacation in your new favorite fandom. But I’ve noticed that a lot of sequels have a tendency to feel overworked, falling flat of expectations. When I heard that Christopher Moore was releasing a sequel to A Dirty Job, I was excited at first, then a little confused. There was nothing about A Dirty Job’s ending that made me feel as though a sequel was necessary. I felt sadness, a sense of hope, and closure. I was perfectly okay with the story ending there.
Unfortunately, I feel that Charlie Asher’s story would’ve been more interesting if it had ended with A Dirty Job. Secondhand Souls picks up where its predecessor left off, even though it was released many years later. The two feel disconnected, and something about the prose feels off, especially when reading it immediately after reading A Dirty Job. The characters don’t feel like themselves, which is disappointing since they were originally the highlight.
The disappointment only continues when you encounter bizarre story mechanics that don’t seem to fit within the established mythos, as well as the rise of certain characters that were never that likable to begin with (*cough, cough* Audrey). But the icing on the disappointment cake for me was the persistent poor use of dialects that made the prose difficult to read. One monologue written from the perspective of a baseball player was so tedious to read it took me five days to get through because I kept falling asleep. And the further you read, the more dialects begin to pervade the dialogue, bogging down what used to be witty banter.
Spoiler Alert: Sorry, Moore, but I think Charlie Asher would’ve been better off if he had stayed dead.