The word “sequel” has practically become a pejorative these days, mostly due to horrendous movie sequels that are clunkier, dumber and less fun than the originals. However, the science fiction and fantasy genre has its own share of clunkers. Sometimes, no matter how cool the concept, characters or setting, an author can squander their goodwill on inferior novels that retread familiar territory. But sometimes authors can strike gold twice at the same mine. Here are three recent sequels that manage to not only match the first book, but sometimes even exceed its accomplishments.
Caliban’s War by James SA Corey
An excellent second novel in the Expanse series. I actually have enjoyed this one just as much, if not more than the first one. The characters get even more depth as the author delves into their backstories. The dialog is witty (shades of Bujold abound) and the story has an undeniable thrust that makes the 500+ whoosh by. The story involves a ragtag crew of space mercenaries who become embroiled once again in a cross-solar system political scheme gone awry. You’ll want to read Leviathan Wakes first (lucky you!), but this series is shaping up to be an absolute classic. Sequel to Leviathan Wakes.
Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland
Another entry into the White Trash Zombie series that manages to be funnier, wilder and more emotionally thrilling than the first. The perfect antidote to the ho hum homogeny of the genre. If the idea of a high school drop out with a criminal record, a history of dating losers and a taste for brains sounds awesome to you, trust me. The book more than delivers on the premise. Sequel to My Life as a White Trash Zombie.
Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan
My goodness what a series! Ryan pulls no punches in the second installment of the Sky Chasers series which revolves around two generation ships in conflict: one staffed by scientists and the other by religious zealots. Think Lord of the Flies written by Poul Anderson. This novel had more shocks than should be legally allowed in literature. Sequel to Glow.