This modern-day thriller is set inside The Herd, a fashionable New York City co-working space aimed at women with a waiting list a mile long. Eleanor Walsh founded the organization years ago, and Katie Bradley is a writer hoping to gain entry to the exclusive club, thanks to her sister, who’s best friends with the private and mysterious Eleanor. But on the eve of a huge announcement that might change everything for The Herd, Eleanor disappears, and everyone is a suspect.
Maggie, Lisa, and Nina are best friends with a fragile peace—they’ve managed to look past old resentments and lingering hurts, forming a seemingly unshakeable bond. But when Sam Decker, a devastatingly handsome movie star shows up at the bar the three nineteen-year-olds frequent, everything they know about themselves and each other will change in an instant. A look at the all-consuming nature of young female friendship, this book is about the complexity of women and their relationships with one another.
Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe was an inventive novel about a son’s search for his father, and now Yu is back with his equally creative Interior Chinatown. Willis Wu doesn’t think of himself as a leading man, even in his own life. That is, until he gets the chance to play a small part in a television show, and the role he plays in real life and onscreen begin to merge in this thoughtful novel on immigrants and identity.
It’s hard to think of a family saga as widely praised and well-received as Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, which is why it’s so exciting her new novel is on the horizon. Transcendent Kingdom follows one Ghanaian American family as they grapple with the paradoxical “American dream.” Gifty is a PhD student, studying addiction after her brother falls victim to an OxyContin overdose in high school. Her mother is suicidal, barely able to get out of bed because of her depression, and Gifty finds she may need more than science to help her understand her family’s situation and find a way forward.
The Starless Sea
We’ve been waiting years for Erin Morgenstern’s follow-up to The Night Circus, a love story between rival magicians set at a magical circus, and The Starless Sea doesn’t disappoint. It features Zachary, who finds a book with his own life story written on its pages. Curious about where it came from and what it might mean for him, he follows its trail on a magical journey that’s a tribute to the power of the written word and what stories can do for each of us in our daily lives.
It’s always exciting when a follow-up novel is a sequel, and that’s just what Dan Vyleta has for us with Soot. His previous book, Smoke, was set in an alternate Victorian England where people could actually see thoughts in the air—called Smoke. But Thomas, the main character of the novel, discovered there was more to Smoke than what he’d been taught, and, in Soot, the world has completely come undone from these new revelations. People are rising up in the chaos to try and take control of Smoke once and for all, with devastating repercussions.
In this expansive novel, Téa Obreht takes the mythology of the American West and reinterprets it for her gripping story. It’s set in the Arizona territory at the end of the 1800s, and features two separate narratives. First is that of Nora, who is grappling with the absence of her husband and two elder sons, and, as a result, she’s singlehandedly raising her youngest son and caring for the others in her household. Lurie’s chaotic childhood in Turkey leads him to join up with the United States Army Camel Corps, and, as he deals with the ghosts of his own past, he meets Nora in the most unexpected of ways.
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird
What happens if you find a doorway to your past—a way to fix the terrible things that have gone wrong, those moments you wish you could relive, rather than having to deal with their consequences? That’s just what happens to Lydia Bird. After the love of her life, Freddie, dies in a car accident, Lydia is inconsolable. She knows she can’t grieve forever, though, and begins to at least try to live again. That becomes much more difficult when she’s given a second chance with Freddie—an alternate reality in which he never died—and Lydia must figure out what she really wants and who she’s meant to be.
Two Can Keep a Secret
Karen M. McManus
One of Us Is Lying was a breakout thriller in young adult literature, so it’s no surprise that people have been eagerly awaiting Karen McManus’s next book. It features Ellery, who’s forced to move to the small town of Echo Ridge—the same town her aunt went missing from as a teenager—to live with her grandmother. When another girl goes missing, Ellery begins to dig into the town’s picture-perfect facade and discovers that there are many, many secrets beneath the surface, and she may be putting herself in danger by bringing them to light.
Last Couple Standing
Jessica and Mitch have been friends with three other couples since college, but now they’re the last ones standing—everyone else has divorced or separated. They consider themselves happy, but they wonder if their own marriage is doomed—and decide to take preemptive action as a result. Mitch and Jessica begin to consider and set the terms for a more open marriage, but this action introduces new conflicts and issues into their marriage, and they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake.
In a dark future, women are assigned roles to determine what kind of person they will be. Will you receive a white ticket, and have a family? Or will you be a blue ticket women, with a thriving career? Women no longer have to choose, prioritize, and juggle. Instead, the system chooses for them. But when Calla begins to question the choice made for her, she must flee, leaving everything she knows and bringing into question who she really is and what she was made for.
This multi-generational family tale delivers the story of the Greenwood family, ranging from Everett Greenwood in 1934, who rescues an abandoned infant, causing his life to change forever, to Jacinda, who, in the year 2038, delivers tours of one of the world’s last forests to ultrarich tourists who want to see what the world used to be like. Each generation has its own voice, as Christie tells a sweeping story of the bonds between family, what we owe each other, and the environment around us.
This beautifully written novel centers on four children—Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya—who are given a great gift in their adolescence: The siblings sneak out to see a psychic and are each informed of the day they will die. But what is supposed to be a gift turns out to be a bigger burden than any of them imagined. Each Gold sibling grows and changes under the weight of this unnecessary knowledge, even as they aren’t sure if the predictions are accurate or not.
The Late Bloomers' Club
Nora revels in the comfort of tradition as the owner of a diner where she knows everyone’s usual order. But a wrench is thrown into her predictable life when she finds out that she and her sister, Kit, will inherit the home and land of a regular customer, Peggy. Peggy was in the process of selling off her land to a developer when she died, and Kit wants to continue the process. But Nora doesn’t want to let go of the land and the house, and the town is strongly divided between the new opportunities a developer might bring and the unwelcome changes that might result. As the two sisters confront one another, they must come together to face the most unexpected of challenges and find solace where they can.
Girl Gone Viral
Everyone assumes Opal’s father committed suicide, but the seventeen-year-old insists that there’s more to the story. That’s why she enters a contest to create a viral VR experience for WAVE, the biggest virtual reality platform, because she wants to meet the reclusive founder who worked with her father, hoping he might be able to provide some clue as to what happened (or might even be the one responsible for his murder). But as Opal begins to dig deeper and deeper, her own motives come into question as she risks everything for the chance at some answers to the questions that have plagued her for years.
Odd One Out
Courtney (nicknamed Coop) and Jupiter have been friends for years, but their relationship might be developing into something more. After all, Coop has started finding his feelings for Jupe aren’t exactly the friend variety. But when Rae moves to town and falls in with the duo, Coop and Rae hit it off—leaving Jupe out in the cold. In this thoughtful young adult novel, each of these people must figure out what they really want, and how they can achieve happiness without hurting the people they love and cherish the most.
It’s always fun to discover an author when they write a crackling and scintillating debut novel. The energy that results from knowing that you’ve found an author with a long career ahead of them, who you can follow for years, is incredibly exciting. The wait for that second novel can be excruciating, but it’s almost always worth it.
If you’ve been eagerly anticipating sophomore novels from the authors you love, then this list is for you. These books vary by genre, age range, and writing style, but what they all have in common is that they’re the second book from talented, incredible authors who stunned us with their debuts. All of these books avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, providing the best reading experience whether you’ve devoured their first book or still need to add it to your TBR.
Featured image: @JulieK via Twenty20