There are many great books in my reading life, including books that I love with all my heart (or at least really, really enjoy). And, when you come across those books, you tend to reach out for more books from those authors – after all, if you loved one book from them, there’s a good chance you’ll like more, right? That’s normally the case for me, but there are always those exceptions – the One Hit Wonders.
What’s a one hit wonder? We all know what those songs are when it comes to music, but I’m talking about books. I’m sure there are plenty of authors who only ever write one book, or who only have one book that’s really beloved, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Instead, I’m talking about the books that I’ve made into One Hit Wonders – the books I loved, but for whatever reason, never expired me to check out more from the author. Maybe their other books don’t interest me, or I don’t want to taint my love of their one book. There are multiple reasons, but there are quite a few books on my personal shelves that are one hit wonders, so let’s check them out.
This book has long been a favorite of mine. I don’t remember how I first found it – I probably just picked it up at the library because the title, summary, and cover intrigued me – but I fell in love with this little magical realism love story from the beginning. It involves a girl whose family has long been cursed to become teenage mothers and go mad after they give birth to another girl, and they apparently become the love of the Goblin King or something like that (I need another reread, obviously). It involves rape and mental illness and discussions of abortion and other hard issues like that, as well as sweeter things such as adoption and supportive friends and a boy next door who becomes more. I just fell in love with it and enjoy all of my rereads.
And YET – you knew this was coming, based on the theme of this post. I never found anything else by the author that sounded interesting, so I never bothered checking them out. And then I learned that she was going to write a companion to Impossible – and, instead of getting excited, like I normally do when a book I like gets a sequel or companion or whatever, I immediately decided that I didn’t want to read it. I was happy with the way things ended with everyone, and I didn’t want to see bad things happen to them. This is definitely the book that inspired this whole post.
* Note After I wrote up this bit, I was at the library and saw a book I read last year and realized that I actually did read another book by Nancy Werlin – a mystery called And Then There Were Four. I kind of hated the book and skimmed a lot of it, so you can understand why I forgot about it; it also was very different from Impossible, so there’s that. So, Nancy Werlin is definitely a one hit wonder for me.
I don’t remember where I first discovered this book – either via some book blogs or just the library – but it was an enjoyable read. I was so enchanted that I wanted to see what else Kristi Cook had written. Unfortunately, all of her previous books were paranormal, and I just wanted some more cute romances from her, so I figured I would check out future things from her if they were contemporary books; however, there never seemed to be much coming from her. Then I saw that there was a novella sequel coming out, but a bit like the previous book, I wasn’t interested in seeing the central romance hitting another snag, so I decided that this one book was enough for me. I finally reread this one earlier this year, and I had just as much fun reading this quick book, with no desire to get more, so I think I’ve made the right choice.
I have actually read more than one book by E. Lockhart – in fact, I’ve read most of her books, both contemporary and mystery – but her Ruby Oliver quartet remains my favorite from her. I kind of liked some of her contemporary books, but I really didn’t enjoy her mysteries so much, which is definitely disappointing. I want her to write more amazing, mental health boosting things like the Ruby Oliver series, but none of her other books seem to work for me, and they actually seem to make me like her less and less each time. I don’t know if I’ll bother checking out anything else from her unless someone who loves Ruby says that her new books are similar.
My mom got Saffy’s Angel for me from a school book order, so I have her to thank for showing me the quirky and charming world of the Casson family. This is the first book in a five book series about a family of color-named British children. It took me a few years to learn that it was a series, so Hilary McKay transcended the “one book” part of One Hit Wonder, but after I read all of the eccentric adventures of the Casson family, I only vaguely thought about checking out more of her books, which are all middle grade, like this series, if I remember correctly. By that time, I think I was already outgrowing middle grade, so I just never bothered reading anything else from her. I’ll enjoy rereading these odd little tales instead.
The Westing Game is another book for which I have my mother to thank, and I am so very, very thankful. This is another middle grade book, but also not – there are many characters in this story, and most of them are adults, although obviously they aren’t thinking about R-rated or even PG-13-rated things when we’re in their heads. The story revolves around a game to win the inheritance of a mysterious millionaire next door to an apartment building full of people who are all somehow related to or once were involved in the life of the dead man. I wanted to check out more from her after I got older and realized that authors normally write multiple things, but nothing stood out to me, so I just never did. If you ever read The Westing Game AND some of Ellen Raskin’s other works, let me know if anything else measures up!
Authors in Danger of Being One Hit Wonders
I’ve read multiple books for all of these authors (3, 2, and 5), and I’ve liked more than one for the first and last authors (Huntley Fitzpatrick and Paula Stokes), but even for them, I’ve only really loved one book of theirs (ironically, their first books). I hope that things change or that I might like some of their books more upon a reread, but they’re hovering on the edge of joining my infamous and not really a thing One Hit Wonders List.