Have you ever loved, adored, or just plain enjoyed a first-time author’s debut book only to be sorely disappointed by their follow up? This happens to me a lot. It happened just recently, and I even asked my editor at Common Sense Media if I could swap March assignments, because I just didn’t want to write about such a mediocre book. I know that sounds like a cop out, and I respect the many book bloggers who have no problems writing one and two-star reviews. But as someone who spends the majority of my career reviewing movies –whether they’re terrible or terrific — I’d prefer my book reviews to be about books I’m actually excited to support.
So I’ve been thinking about debut authors whose SECOND books are as good as (or even better than) their first books. Here’s a celebration of five amazing sophomore books.
“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell** – “Eleanor and Park” was so fabulous (and hello, it’s getting adapted BY RAINBOW into a movie!) as Rowell’s first YA book, it was hard to believe that she could write something else of the same caliber. While some might debate which book is better, it’s certain that “Fangirl” lived up to everyone’s expectations of Rowell’s writing. –Diana
“Lola and the Boy Next Door” by Stephanie Perkins – Perkins’ debut novel “Anna and the French Kiss” was such a fun, romantic book that it was difficult to imagine her topping it. Although Lola is very different from Anna, Perkins showed that she still had it. Her sophomore novel was equally as romantic as her first and made us that much more excited to read her third book, “Isla and the Happily Ever After.” –Diana
“Noggin” by John Corey Whaley – “Where Things Come Back” was such a memorable debut it won not just the Morris Award but also the Printz — and not an Honor seal but the actual Awards! Whaley took his relative time producing his follow-up novel, especially in an era when YA authors pop out a book a year (or even more in certain cases). With “Noggin,” Whaley proves he’s far from a one-hit wonder; he’s a bloody genius in the vein of greats like Andrew Smith and John Green. –Sandie
“Out of the Easy” by Ruta Sepetys – Diana and I both adored Sepetys’ debut novel “Between Shades of Gray,” and we were equally as impressed with her second novel. The first takes place in World War II Siberia and the second takes place in 1950s New Orleans, but they both offer insights into how an incredible teenage protagonist deals with extraordinary circumstances. Sepetys is a historical novelist we hope to be reading for decades to come. –Sandie
**I know “Fangirl” is technically Rainbow’s third book, but it was her second YA book, in the same way that I’d consider “Landline” her second general/women’s fiction book.