Is there anything better than finding a great book and having a continued world to explore? That is the beauty of sequels, series, and shared worlds, or books that take place in the same world as a former book. Reluctant and voracious readers alike enjoy spending more time with characters and watching storylines unfold over multiple books. Continuing plots, characters, world building, and adventures in stories are a treat for all. Here are 11 exciting books that begin, continue, or explore new dimensions of stories for tween and teen readers.
Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations #2). B. B. Alston. (2022). Balzer + Bray.
Thirteen-year-old Amari Peters is navigating her newfound fame after being recognized as a magician, helping the Bureau of Magical Affairs, and having an epic battle with Dylan Van Helsing in Amari and the Night Brothers (2021). All she wants is to be a “normal teenager” and enjoy school with her friends until she receives a mysterious omen: “Beware of unseen dangers.” Dylan Van Helsing, who wants the Crown, escapes an inescapable prison and is continuing to hold Amari’s brother, Quentin, in a deep sleep. Amari challenges Dylan to the Great Game, a series of obstacles to test wit, intelligence, and loyalties, and if she wins, she secures the Crown and can save magickind and her brother. Amari is an amazing character who brings much needed Black representation to fantasy books for young people. This is a riveting, action-packed novel that will have readers turning the pages and eagerly anticipating the final book in the Supernatural Investigation trilogy. (Gr 6 Up)
Bitter. Akwaeke Emezi. (2022). Knopf.
This prequel to Pet (2019) is breathtaking. Seventeen-year-old Bitter lives at Eucalyptus, a private boarding school for young artists in the center of Lucille, a city at war. Bitter has an unusual gift; she can bring her paintings to life with a drop of blood. When fighting breaks out in the streets and one of her friends is injured, Bitter makes a new painting out of anger and uses more blood than usual. The “monster” she has created comes to life, calls itself Vengeance, and says the “angels” are coming to purge the city. Now, Bitter must own up to the consequences of her actions. She despises violence and war, but may just have to engage in it. With representations of young people with extraordinary talents, LGBTQ characters, and fantastical elements of war, this book is pure magic and engagingly readable. (Gr 9-12)
The Bone Spindle (Bone Spindle #1). Leslie Vedder. (2022). Razorbill.
In this fractured fairy tale, readers meet Fi, a treasure hunter who teams up with Shane, a well-known warrior. When Fi pricks her finger on a bone spindle, she becomes linked to Briar Rose, a prince under a sleeping curse. This gender flipped approach to “Sleeping Beauty” is set in an amazingly rich fantasy world with LGBTQ representation and surprises. Leslie Vedder’s debut novel is sure to delight teen readers who want a rougher edge to their fairy tales. Fi is a strong, focused, and determined heroine. Shane is tough, speaks her mind, and follows her heart, which sometimes gets the duo in trouble as they navigate dangers. The ending of this fantasy sets the stage for a follow-up which readers will be anxious to read. (Gr 6 Up)
Loveboat Reunion (Loveboat, Taipei #2). Abigail Hing Wen. (2022). HarperTeen.
In Loveboat, Taipei (2020), readers were introduced to Xavier Yeh and Sophie Ha who had a tumultuous and short-lived romance in a summer program in Taipei where teenagers are sent to find their love match. In this sequel (told in alternating first-person chapters), the characters’ lives could not be more different. Sophie is off to college, figuring out her love of fashion, and striving to impress her computer science professor. Xavier is repeating his senior year of high school and trying to hide the fact that his severe dyslexia makes reading nearly impossible. Will an accidental and extravagant reunion with their friends in Taipei be a chance to rekindle their love, or will their differences drive them apart? This engaging teen romance explores the dynamics of a generations-long tradition of matchmaking in Asian-American culture and the desire of the present generation of young people to break from tradition and forge their own paths. (Gr 9-12)
Map of Flames (The Forgotten Five #1). Lisa McMann. (2022). Putnam.
In this new fantasy series for middle grade readers, five orphans (Birdie, Brix, Seven, Tenner, and Cabot) raised in seclusion on a tropical island enter the outside world for the first time. The parents of each of the orphans were supernatural villains who gave those with superpowers a bad name. When their caretaker dies, he leaves the children with a map and a mysterious note that sends them on a wild adventure. For the first time, they must navigate a world that has been conditioned to dislike them. Their journey becomes more perilous as each child begins learning about their own supernatural abilities. Readers are sure to relate to one of the five children, who represent a great range of talents, strengths, and fears. The superb character development of this fast-paced novel will leave readers anticipating more adventure with the forgotten five in the sequel, The Invisible Spy, due out in November. (Gr 3 Up)
Omar Rising. Aisha Saeed. (2022). Nancy Paulsen.
In this companion to Aisha Saeed’s book set in the same world as Amal Unbound (2018), 12-year-old Pakistani Omar, the son of a servant, has been accepted to a prestigious boarding school, the Ghalib Academy for Boys. He is excited to learn, join clubs, play on a team, make friends, and change his and his mother’s future. When he arrives at school, however, he learns there are special rules for scholarship students. They are not allowed to participate in clubs or teams, they are expected to do chores around the school, and they must maintain an A+ grade average or face expulsion. While confronting microaggressions, Omar works extremely hard to follow all the rules. When it looks like most of the scholarship students will not be allowed to continue at Ghalib Academy, Omar and his classmates band together to stand up for what is right and challenge the school’s discriminatory policies. (Gr 6-8)
One True Loves. Elise Bryant. (2022). Balzer & Bray.
In this companion to Happily Ever Afters (2021), 17-year-old African American Lenore Bennett’s parents are taking the family on a dream cruise before she heads off to New York City for college. Her parents give her the ultimatum that she must declare her major and life plan by the end of the cruise. After a bad break-up, she has sworn off guys, and her best friend wants her to give love another try. Lenore is not excited about either of these plans. On the cruise, she meets Black-Korean Alex Lee and falls hard. How will this impact her future? Is their love made to last? This romantic comedy examines a teenager’s opening up to love and opportunity in unexpected ways. (Gr 9-12)
Sense and Second-Degree Murder (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #2). Tirzah Price. (2022). HarperTeen.
In this sequel to Pride and Premeditation (2021), the first book in a trilogy in which Tirzah Price reimagines Jane Austen’s classic books as murder mysteries, Marianne and Elinor Dashwood investigate the sudden death of their father. Initially, it is believed that he suffered a heart attack, but the clever sisters soon discover clues that point to murder by poisoning. Told in the writing style of Jane Austen with characters and setting from Sense and Sensibility but updated for a new generation of readers, Sense and Second-Degree Murder will delight teens who enjoy reading mysteries and classics retold with a modern flair. (Gr 8 Up)
The Turtle of Michigan. Naomi Shihab Nye. Illus. by Betsy Peterschmidt. (2022). Greenwillow.
In this companion novel to The Turtle of Oman (2014), Naomi Shihab Nye continues the story of Aref Al-Amri and his family. Eight-year-old Aref is moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, so his parents can pursue graduate studies. He is excited about the move, but sad to leave his beloved Sidi (grandfather) in Oman. As he adapts to a new school, new town, and new schedule with his family, Aref must repeatedly respond to the question “Oman, is that a real place?” Readers are given closure to the story of Aref and his Sidi and how Aref finds his place in a new country. Those who first meet Aref in The Turtle of Michigan may want to learn more about Aref’s life in Oman by reading The Turtle in Oman. (Gr 3-5)
The Unforgettable Logan Foster (Logan Foster #1). Shawn Peters. (2022). Harper.
Twelve-year-old Logan Foster lives in an orphanage and writes letters to his missing brother. The brothers were separated when they went into the foster care system, and Logan’s great hope is for them to be reunited. When Logan, who has had many first meetings with potential families, meets Gil and Margie for the first time, the couple seems interested in him. However, a sudden earthquake occurs, and they disappear for a few days. They return still interested in Logan. Over time, Logan realizes that his new foster parents disappear frequently and are hiding something. He learns they are real life superheroes! This captivating story shares a positive perspective on fostering and a neurodivergent primary character. With an eidetic memory, Logan can remember everything, and he often says the wrong thing, but his parents are supportive and enjoy having him as part of the family. Middle grade and reluctant readers will anticipate following the ongoing storylines of future books in this fast-paced superhero adventure. (Gr 3 Up)
Wreck at Ada’s Reef (The Swallowtail Legacy #1). Michael D. Beil. (2022). Pixel+Ink.
After Lark’s father died when she is young, her mother remarried, and Lark became a member of a Brady Bunch-style family. When her mother dies, preteen Lark is left to be raised by her stepfather with her sister and stepsiblings. The family heads to Swallowtail where Lark’s mother spent summers growing up. There, Lark discovers a mystery about an infamous shipwreck at Ada’s Reef and sets out to discover the truth, doing her own research and interviewing those involved. This book that takes readers on Lark’s vacation at Swallowtail is full of adventure and mystery, making it ideal summer reading. (Gr 3 Up)
Tracey S. Hodges is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and current member of the Notable Books for a Global Society committee.
These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG).