Book List

Second Books That Live Up to First

November 28, 2017
Casey Nugent
Riveted Editorial Board
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Many people out there hold the belief that the second book can never live up to the first. After all, there’s nothing quite like your first love, right?

Wrong!

There are many, many instances where the sequel is as good as ­— if not better — than the original. I mean, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back anyone?

As a well-documented lover of sequels, I am here to offer my defense of the second novel. More than the unloved middle child in a trilogy, more than a shadow of its predecessor, a truly good second book takes everything you loved about the first one and amps it up. Way up. More drama, more romance, more suspense, more intrigue. Here’s my list of second books that live up — and sometimes even surpass — the first books. Check it out, and then let me know what your favorite second books are!

SPOILER ALERT: Some of the descriptions of second books will spoil the first book for you. If you haven’t started a series yet, you are WARNED!

THE EMPRESS by S.J. Kincaid

(Second Book in the Diabolic Trilogy)

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The Diabolic was one of my favorite stand-alone books in 2016, so I was extremely excited to find out it was becoming a trilogy! I wasn’t ready to let Nemesis and her world go. Luckily, the second book, The Empress is just as suspenseful and riveting as the first. Tyrus, Nemesis’ love, has ascended the throne, defeating his evil uncle and grandmother. But it’s easier to get power than it is to keep it, and soon Nemesis and Tyrus are facing off against religious and political rivals, in a battle that could destroy them both.

LORD OF SHADOWS by Cassandra Clare

(Second Book in the Dark Artifices Trilogy)

good books for teens

It’s no secret that Cassie Clare can turn out a sequel, but she still manages to shock me with just how good she is. Lord of Shadows takes all of the heartbreak and action of Lady Midnight and raises the stakes impossibly higher. Emma Carstairs thought avenging her family would be the most difficult challenge, but now there’s a possible faeirie war brewing, and her complicated romantic feelings for her parabati threaten both of their lives.

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han

(Second Book in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy)

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The sweet, relatable, and genuinely wonderful romantic antics of Lara Jean continue in this wonderful follow-up. Lara Jean didn’t mean to actually fall in love with Peter K, but along the way their pretend relationship turned into a real one. Now she has to navigate what it’s like to be in a real relationship, while also dealing with the return of a boy from her past.

THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

(Second Book in the Mara Dyer Trilogy)

9781442421790

The sexy, dark, and thrilling mystery of Mara Dyer continues to unravel in this second novel. Mara used to think she could outrun the past. She used to think her problems were all in her own head. She used to think the boy she loves would never keep anything from her. But everything she thought she knew seems to be wrong. As the truth evolves, Mara must make some difficult choices — choices that might just prove deadly.

THE TREATMENT by Suzanne Young

(Second Book in the Program series)

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In this chilling, suspenseful follow up to The Program, Sloane and James find themselves on the run after barely escaping the titular, horrifying Program. But they’re not out of danger yet. Teaming up with a group of rebels, they must figure out who to trust and how to take down the Program. They know they’ll need to regain their lost memories in order to do so — and the only way to get those back is through a pill called The Treatment. There’s a high cost, however — there’s only one dose.

PRETTIES by Scott Westerfield

(Second Book in the Uglies series)

9781416936398

Here’s a backlist blast from the past, and one of my all-time favorite books. Tally Youngblood has finally become a Pretty. She has it all — perfect looks, perfect clothes, and the perfect boyfriend. But even with all the nonstop parties and high-tech luxury, Tally can’t help but feel a nagging sense that something is wrong. That she’s forgetting something important. Then a message arrives from her Ugly past — one that reminds Tally of what’s wrong with Pretty life, and of the rebel past she’d forgotten.

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