Reading Novels One, Two, Three | Wyatt’s World

Debut novels are delightful because they promise future works to follow. Second books then confirm the hope of the first, while third novels launch a career. Here are five titles that combine such offerings, introducing readers to fresh voices and proving the power of authors who have more to say.

  • History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Atlantic luckyboy2.jpg12017Monthly).
    One of the buzzy debuts of early 2017 is this mix of coming-of-age story and psychological suspense. Fourteen-year-old Linda does what plenty of girls her age do: she babysits, goes to school, and wonders at the lives and actions of other young teens. Yet for Linda, life is not that normal, as Fridlund’s chilling novel makes clear.
  • The Dry by Jane Harper (Flatiron: Macmillan).
    Another shining star of early 2017 is this debut thriller already optioned for a movie by Reese Witherspoon. It begins as Agent Aaron Falk returns home for the funeral of a childhood friend and tensely spins out from there. Suggest to readers who enjoy full-speed-ahead storytelling combined with a killer plot.
  • Human Acts by Han Kang (Hogarth).
    The author of The Vegetarian, which won the Man Booker International Prize, returns with this disturbing, difficult, and violent novel stemming from the uprising and massacre in Gwangju, South Korea, in 1980. With unflinching power, Kang chronicles the event’s brutal fallout and its impact from character to character.
  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (Putnam).
    Following 2009’s The Prayer Room, Sekaran’s second novel presents a complex and gripping saga of immigration, love, and motherhood. The narrative is set in motion when an undocumented young mother is placed in detention and her son is given over to the care of another woman, who longs for a child of her own.
  • Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (Morrow).
    After The Kind Worth Killing and The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, Swanson pens his third novel, an intense psychological thriller about what one knows, what one thinks one knows, and what is being told. It all takes place in an apartment complex and is triggered by a mysterious death.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at