Last month Sarah Pauly and I presented a workshop at the CCIRA convention about the Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Awards. We did book talks on the 2013 nominees and announced this year's winner, which is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney. Book talks for the 2013 nominees are now available on the website at http://www.coloradobluespruceaward.org/. Several books that are the first in series were nominated, including The Comet's Curse (Galahad series by Dom Testa), Fallen (Fallen series by Lauren Kate), The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan), Matched (Matched series by Allie Condie, Mission Unstoppable (Genius Files by Dan Gutman), Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell) and Witch and Wizard (Witch and Wizard series by James Patterson.) Two sequels, Crescendo (Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick) and The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner series by James Dashner) were also nominated. I always find those nominations interesting, because so many sequels are dissastisfying bridges to the final novel in the series.
I have recently read Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter, A Million Suns by Beth Revis and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, which are all second books in series. Goddess Interrupted continues the saga of Kate Winters, who married Henry, the god of the underworld in The Goddess Test. Just as she is about to be crowned Queen, Henry is abducted by the King of the Titans. Kate must enlist the help of Henry's ex-wife Persephone to help save him. In A Million Suns the crew from Across the Universe continues to hurtle into outer space. Elder is now in control of the ship, but when he takes the inhabitants off Phydus, the mind controlling drug that makes them passive, chaos erupts. He and Amy have to work together to discover the truth about life on the Godspeed. Both of these sequels basically end on a "to be continued" note.
However, Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver is one of the most satisfying sequels I've read in a long time. Although the story could almost stand alone, I would recommend first reading Delirium, the introductory book in this dystopian romance, which takes place in world where love is a disease and all eighteen-year-olds must undergo a surgery that is considered a cure. Right before Lena Holloway's procedure, she falls in love with Alex, who is an uncured Invalid living in the Wilds, but passing in the Valid world. At the end of the book they attempt to escape into the Wilds, to live a vagabond life filled with passion. As Pandemonium opens Lena is near death and Alex is missing and presumed dead. She is nursed back to health by a band of rebel Invalids and decides to join their resistance movement. The story is told through a series of flashbacks to her convalescence and present-day accounts that chronicle her undercover work in the Valid world. There she is abducted from a rally along with Julian, the uncured son of the DFA (a movement supporting the cure) leader, by a group of Scavengers hoping to get a ransom. During their incarceration, they fall in love. Their escape and subsequent adventures are action packed and lead to a rewarding conclusion. The sequel's success can be attributed to perfect blend of action and suspense, paired with Lena's equally compelling evolution from a wounded bird into a courageous resitance fighter. The startling revelation at the end of the story, which sets up Requiem, the final book in the trilogy (due out February 2013), is icing on the cake. The series has also been optioned by Fox 2000 to become a movie.