15 Books That Desperately Need Sequels, Because I Still Have So Many Unanswered Questions
Some of the most bittersweet moments in the life of a book lover are discovering those books you just can’t put down and that you never want to end — sweet because they’re just SO good, but bitter because at some point you will, in fact, arrive at the end of the story. There are other kinds of books as well; those populated with characters who puzzle, infuriate, and intrigue you, or filled with plot twists that keep you up at night. No matter how well a writer wraps up her story, these are the books that still leave you with questions you REALLY want answered, or introduce you to characters you’re desperate for some follow-up on. Basically, they’re the books we wish had sequels.
If you’ve ever reached the end of a novel and realized all you want to do is crawl back inside that world and find out more, you know exactly what I’m talking about — and you’re not alone. I think just about every book lover has, at some point in time, turned that last page of a book and wished there were more. (No matter how many books are impatiently waiting in your TBR pile.)
Here are 15 book sequels we wish existed — assuming our TBR piles could handle it, that is.
'The Catcher in the Rye' by J.D. Salinger
Is this just me, or are we all dying to know how Holden Caulfield turned out as an adult? The qualities and characteristics that were wholly insufferable in the prep school teen are suddenly completely relatable in adult life — amirite? Back in 11th grade English there was definitely no love lost between Holden and me, but now? I would totally grab a coffee with the guy. Sadly, The Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger is no longer with us, and so far no sequel for his best-known novel has been discovered (as far as I know, anyway. Word in the library stacks is there’s an unauthorized sequel, but we don’t talk about that.)
'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn
Two things are for sure: one, through all the various plot twists in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, by the end it’s fairly well established that Nick and Amy Dunne kind of deserve each other. And two, I cannot be the only person wondering how the ol’ Dunnes are doing six years later. Have they been able to sleep next to one another — or sleep AT ALL — since? Inquiring minds need to know.
'Ella Enchanted' by Gail Carson Levine
Here’s the thing about Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: it ended just as it was getting good! Readers trucked along with Ella for one page after another of trials and tribulations, injustices and misunderstandings and heartbreak, just waiting for her to sort her curse out and save herself from her fate. And the moment she does, she bursts into tears and the novel is over. Um… hello? I want to know what Ella’s going to do with her life — and fierce new free will — now.
'The Immortalists' by Chloe Benjamin
This is the newest addition to my “I wish there were a sequel to this” booklist, since it only came out in January (so, you know, no pressure Chloe Benjamin — I understand these things take time.) If you haven’t had the opportunity to check it out, The Immortalists dives headfirst into the lives of four siblings whose lives are transformed when they each learn as children the dates they’re predicted to die. I won’t give away the ending in case you haven’t read it yet, but suffice it to say I REALLY want to know what happens in the future of this family, the psychic, and all the other characters swirling around them.
'Tuck Everlasting' by Natalie Babbitt
A novel that, in some ways, travels in the direct opposite direction of the aforementioned The Immortalists, Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting navigates what happens to a family who can never die — and specifically, the young girl who meets and falls in love, in different ways, with all of them. And, while sequels about the Tuck family could theoretically go on forever (because they’re, you know, immortal) I’m not really all that interested in what happens to them for all of eternity. I want to know how Winnie Foster — what she ended up doing with her time, if she ever had any second thoughts, and what her reflections were at the end of her life. Maybe that’s a lot to ask for a Middle Grade novel, I dunno…
'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood
Now that we’ve got a firm grasp on the misogynistic dystopia that is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, we want a revolution! (Or, at least, I do.) Something along the lines of "Part Two: The Handmaids’ Uprising". You can see it, right? And you can’t tell me Hulu wouldn’t be all over that too.
'The Lauras' by Sara Taylor
Another fairly new addition to both my TBR pile and my pile of books I’d love sequels for is The Lauras by Sara Taylor. If you haven’t had a chance to check out this 2017 novel, it tells the story of an agender teen named Alex whose coming-of-age years are interrupted when Alex’s mother leaves home, taking Alex on a years-long nomadic journey across the country with her. And I’d really like to know what happens to Alex next. Does the teen ever truly reconnect with the father left behind? What is Alex’s journey into adulthood like? As a 20-something, is Alex eager to return to a traditional life, or will Alex always be defined by the wanderlusty teen years?
'Middlemarch' by George Eliot
Middlemarch by George Eliot, is the kind of book you can read and reread throughout your life, and always relate to differently, and learn something different from. It’s the kind of novel that asks always-relevant questions about love and identity and family and obligation… So maybe what I actually want isn’t so much a Middlemarch sequel, as a Middlemarch revival for the 21st century.
'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer
Hands down one of the best 9/11 novels ever written (IMO) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer made readers fall in love with 9-year-old Oskar Schell, who loses his father in the terrorist attacks. And, I’m kind of curious to see how Oskar turned out. Does the utterly endearing little boy have rebellious teen years? How does his relationship with New York City — and his understanding of the attacks — evolve as he grows from little boy into young man?
'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath
All the stuff about The Bell Jar being Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel aside, I’ve kind of always suspected that the novel unfairly chronicled what Esther Greenwood would later look back on as her “lost years”. I’d love to check back in with Esther at, say, the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, or writing scathing articles about misogyny in the workplace as part of a #MeToo series. I do not think her story ended in 1963 — honestly, I think it was just beginning.
'The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls' by Anton DiSclafani
Anton DiSclafani’s The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is another novel that I suspect chronicled a girl’s “lost years” — only, unlike Esther Greenwood, who I’m pretty sure ended up getting all her ducks back in a row, I have NO IDEA how Thea Atwell turned out (and the sorta sinister, scandalous story-loving side of me is secretly hoping she kept fanning the flames of her sexuality and causing dramas for everyone around her…) Is that very wrong?
'The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne
On the whole, I actually found The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne to have wrapped up quite satisfyingly. Except… (there’s always an exception, yes?) I want to know how Pearl turned out. Basically, I want an in-her-80s Pearl to write a long reflection on her life, the life of her mother, and how time changed for Puritan and post-Puritan women, from the daughter of a woman who knew the suffering of Puritan women firsthand.
'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee
Before you jump all over me shouting about Go Set A Watchman, I have two things to say: one, Go Set A Watchman was not technically considered a sequel. It was a first draft. And two: it should have stayed a first draft, because it was terrible. I want a "sequel" do-over. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was too good to be tarnished by all that Watchman nonsense, and I want a real sequel wherein all the characters are still exactly themselves, only better.
'The Winds of Winter' by George R. R. Martin
So, technically this sequel does exist — or, as Game of Thrones lovers all over the world are wishing — is very, very close to existing. Rumored to be making its way to bookstore shelves at some point this year (although, haven’t we all fallen for that before?) George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter is the planned sixth novel in the epic fantasy series that fans can’t get enough of.