Sequels can be tricky territory for authors. They are tempting to write because the world-building and character development is in place, and what author wouldn’t love to have a successful series of books to her name? But there’s also the unavoidable pressure to make the sequels live up to the original. Fortunately, some authors accomplish that task with skill and aplomb. Search through the book shelves, and you're sure to find some books with amazing sequels that prove a follow-up book doesn't have to be rehashed leftovers of the original.
From classic literature to modern fantasy stories, these sequels measure up to their originals and take the story even further. And hey — why stop when you have a good thing going? As long as it holds your interest as a reader, any book is great, whether it’s a standalone novel or the tenth installment in a series.
Science fiction and fantasy works seem to lend themselves to sequels especially well, and many pieces of historical fiction blow up and become long-running series. But even more literary fiction boasts a sequel now and then, because some stories just can’t be told in one book alone. Here are a few selections from a wide range of genres to get you started. Bet you can’t read just one.
1. 'The Witches Of Eastwick' by John Updike
John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick follows the adventures of three women who find themselves beset with amazing powers, as well as the interest of an intriguing newcomer to the town. And this bitingly humorous story continues with The Widows of Eastwick, in which the trio reconvenes 30 years later to come to terms with their pasts.
2. 'A Wizard Of Earthsea' by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea covers the story of Ged's right of passage as he faces fantastical battles and becomes a wizard's apprentice. In its follow-up, The Tombs of Atuan, Ged encounters a nameless priestess who is his only hope of conquering a labyrinthine tomb.
3. 'The Other Boleyn Girl' by Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl covers topics such as sibling rivalry, political intrigue, and the dangers of using love as a bargaining tool against the backdrop of the Tudor court. Its prequel, The Constant Princess, concerns Katherine of Aragon's marriage to King Henry VIII, while its sequel, The Boleyn Inheritance, profiles the three women who seek to become the fourth wife of Henry VIII.
4. 'The Sparrow' by Mary Doria Russell
What do you get when you send Jesuit priests, an astronomer, a computer whiz, and others into space? Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow follows this unique crew all the way to Alpha Centuri. Its sequel, Children of God, follows one of the priest's return to earth and the spiritual and moral questions that he faces as a result of his far-flung mission work.
5. 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is an account of Okonkwo, a Nigerian man who has a falling out with the people in his Ibo village around the time European missionaries arrive in the area. Its follow-up, No Longer At Ease, follows Okonkwo's grandson as he navigates Western culture, his tribal roots, and the struggles that face a developing nation.
6. 'The Shining' by Stephen King
In Stephen King's The Shining, a family's stay at the creepy Overlook Hotel forever changes their lives — particularly the gifted young Danny's. And its long-awaited follow-up, Doctor Sleep, profiles the now-adult Dan who tries to help others with the same weird gift that has affected him for so long.
7. 'Sea Of Poppies' by Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies follows a group of characters from all walks of life converge aboard the Ibis, an opium transport vessel. Its follow-up, River of Smoke, delves deeper into the many forces, from cyclones to political resistance, that complicate this era of globalization.
8. 'Me Before You' by Jojo Moyes
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes follows the unlikely romance that occurs between an ordinary woman and a surly ex-sports star who is forced to live in a wheelchair. The story explores some morally complex issues that occur as the pair's bond deepens. Its sequel, After You, follows one character's struggle to move on after losing a loved one.
9. 'Wicked' by Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire's Wicked is the darker and weirder retelling of the story of Oz and its citizens, with a focus on the Wicked Witch herself. Its sequel, Son of a Witch, follows the adventures of Liir, who may (or may not?) be her son.
10. 'War Horse' by Michael Morpurgo
The super-popular War Horse by Michael Morpurgo profiles the horrors of World War I from the perspective of a horse. Farm Boy, its sequel, follows the horse's return to normal life after the war and further details his relationship with the people who care for him.
11. 'Plainsong' by Kent Haruf
A pregnant teenager, a teacher with an ailing wife, and a pair of brothers who know more about cows than people make up the cast of Kent Haruf's Plainsong. Its follow-up, Eventide, picks up these characters' stories (and introduces some newcomers) as they struggle to make a life in blue-collar America.