13 Highly Anticipated Sophomore Standalones of 2016

2016 sophomoresYou know the best thing after falling in love with an author for the first time? Learning you’ll get to spend even more time with their words in the future. Whether a followup comes after one year or five, there’s nothing like following up with a new favorite and seeing they’ve still got that magic…or might’ve even surpassed it. Here are the sophomore books we’re dying for in 2016, from thirteen authors whose debuts definitely made their mark.

See all 2016 previews here.

Up to this Pointe, by Jennifer Longo (January 19)
Longo’s debut, Six Feet Over It, was one of the most quietly beautiful YAs I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and her sophomore is every bit as special. When Harper’s life throws her for a loop, she escapes as far as humanly possible to reevaluate her life. Like, Antarctica far. And it’s only there that she finally faces some hard truths and figures out how to lay the course of her life now that her future plans have been upended. A must for ballet lovers, and for contemp fans in general.

Take the Fall, by Emily Hainsworth (February 16)
It’s been a bit of a wait since Hainsworth’s romantic sci-fi thriller debut, Through to You, released in 2012, but this compelling murder mystery is well worth the wait. When Sonia stumbles into her family’s diner, all banged up, the only thing she can recall is tussling with an unnamed assailant in the woods the night before. Then she learns her best friend was killed in those same words the same night, and the killer is still at large…and she might be the next victim.

Behold the Bones, by Natalie C. Parker (February 23)
Candy’s the only one who can’t see the Shine, the glowing magic that surrounds the deadly swamp in her Louisiana town. But it’s utterly fascinating to everyone else, including the new ghost-hunting family in town…and so is Candy, when she proves to have a power none of them knew she possessed, but all of them need. Parker’s second novel may be a companion to Beware the Wild (which, by the way, is probably my favorite YA Southern Gothic), but Candy’s story works all on its own, though pairing them best highlights the wonderful friendship between the two books’ main characters and the third girl in their trio. I don’t know if the latter is getting her own book, but man, I hope so; Behold the Bones has a subplot about allyship involving her that quite literally brought tears to my eyes, and I will miss these girls and their personal shine so much when they’re gone.

In Real Life, by Jessica Love (March 1)
Love’s first solo book (her debut, Push Girl, was cowritten with Chelsie Hill) harnesses the power of internet connections to bring together Hannah and Nick, who’ve been best friends since eighth grade, but have never actually met. When Hannah’s spring break plans fall apart, she takes the opportunity to change her and Nick’s online-only—and friends-only—status by surprising him in Vegas. But her newest plans fall apart in an entirely new way, thanks to the girlfriend Nick failed to mention, not to mention a few other details about the guy she thought she knew that don’t quite hold up IRL.

The Forbidden Orchid, by Sharon Biggs Waller (March 8)
It’s one of my biggest book shames that I haven’t yet read Waller’s debut, A Mad Wicked Folly, because by many accounts I trust, it was a glorious achievement of feminism by a historical fiction author to watch. This year I’ll have to double down, because her sophomore sounds similarly too good to resist. Elodie is the oldest of 10 girls growing up in a small English town, until her family’s threatened to be torn apart by a debt her father has failed to pay, in the form of a rare orchid. Desperate to keep her family together, Elodie journeys to China with her father for one last chance to find the flower, and finds there’s far more treasure than she imagined in finally seeing the world. Finding the orchid may keep Elodie’s family together in England, but the more she travels, the less sure she is that’s even what she wants.

On the Edge of Gone, by Corinne Duyvis (March 8)
In the future, one disaster after another rocks earth, and generational ships that take people away from the planet and allow for new life elsewhere are the way of the future. But passage isn’t easy to come by, especially if you can’t prove your worth, as autistic Denise is afraid she and her addict mother will never be able to do. But she’s determined to try, and to find her missing sister, too, and do whatever it takes for everyone she loves to survive. This book is a perfect example of how diverse casting can straight-up make books better by adding more nuance to plot points without being the plot points, and Duyvis has a way of making me adore books that are so completely outside my genre comfort zone (if you haven’t read her standalone YA fantasy, Otherbound, get on that!) and letting me know that when her name is on the cover, it’s gonna be different in the best possible way.

What You Always Wanted, by Kristin Rae (March 29)
Rae’s debut, Wish You Were Italian, practically had me licking the pages in my desperate desire for gelato—just one of the memories of my trip to Italy she skillfully evoked in her first romance. Her second contribution to Bloomsbury’d If Only line features Maddie, a classic Hollywood fan who dreams of finding a guy who can live up to her highest standard: Gene Kelly. Her new neighbor Jesse Morales is so not that guy; jocks aren’t exactly known for singing in the rain. So why exactly is he starring in her dreams?

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas, by Kate Hattemer (April 19)
Here’s the thing about Kate Hattemer: I find her to be one of the most dauntingly intellectual YA authors right now. Her books are eerie levels of brilliant, interweaving art in multiple forms and featuring memorable voices of utterly huggable characters. Her debut, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, is laugh-out-loud funny, which had me unprepared for how quickly her newest, about five teens brought together to tour Europe by a boy they’re all grieving, would break my heart.

Outrun the Moon, by Stacey Lee (May 24)
What I love most about Lee’s books is that they feel like instant classics, reminding of the historical fiction with fiery heroines I grew up reading over and over again. Her incredible 2015 debut, Under a Painted Sky, featured two best friends on the run during the Gold Rush. Her newest takes place half a century later, bisected by the infamous 1906 earthquake that rocked San Francisco, and stars Mercy Wong, a Chinese American girl who aspires to be a businesswoman and schemes her way into an exclusive heretofore all-white school as a result. Mercy’s personality, tenacity, boldness, and love for her family are wondrous to behold, and if you grew up loving books like my personal childhood favorite, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, this one is not to be missed.

How it Feels to Fly, by Kathryn Holmes (June 14)
From the author of The Distance Between Lost and Found comes another book about survival and faith, in very different ways. Ballet is Sam’s life, but the way her body has been changing as she grows up doesn’t quite fit with her mental image of a ballerina, and it’s making her miserable. When her dysphoria gives way to anxiety attacks, the only solution is to send her to a camp where she can work through all her emotional distress. But while a new relationship there helps her work through her issues, troubles at home may send her right back to where she began.

Autofocus, by Lauren Gibaldi (June 14)
Maude doesn’t know much about the woman who gave birth to her, gave her up for adoption, then passed away. So when she’s given a photography assignment to show the meaning of family, it’s the perfect occasion to visit her best friend, Treena, who’s now at college in Maude’s birth mom’s hometown, and do some research on the side. Unfortunately, the changed Treena doesn’t seem quite as interested in the hunt, but her dormmate, Bennett, is more than happy to help Maude out…and to help her realize she isn’t defined by her origins, but by who she has become. Gibaldi’s The Night We Said Yes was one of my favorite fun, romantic reads of this past year, and I can’t wait to read more of her words.

Never Missing, Never Found, by Amanda Panitch (June 28)
Panitch’s Damage Done is one of my all-time favorite YA thrillers, so there’s clearly no question I’ll be first in line for round 2. Her sophomore features Scarlett, a girl who was kidnapped as a child and has since escaped her captor. Now, as a teen, she’s finally ready to start her life over right…only to learn a girl was just kidnapped from the very amusement park where she’s starting a new job. As it dawns on her that one of her coworkers looks mighty familiar, she realizes these events may be connected. But what does she risk by questing to uncover the truth?

The Inside of Out, by Jenn Marie Thorne (July 12)
The title may be on theme with her fantastic 2015 debut, The Wrong Side of Right, but Thorne’s second book leaves national politics behind and enters the realm of the politics of allyship. Daisy wants to prove her support when her best friend, Hannah, comes out to her, despite the fact that Hannah’s girlfriend is the last person Daisy wants around. But Daisy’s determination to be The World’s Greatest Ally leads people to believe she’s gay, too…which doesn’t bother her until she falls for the college journalist covering her activism and realizes she’s somehow managed to lose Hannah along the way.

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