This was really hard for me, because generally I’m not aware what novels are the author’s debut. Once I started looking, though, it was hard because so many of the books I love are debut novels! But, I was able to whittle it down to my top five. And here they are!
Beauty by Robin McKinley is probably one of my favorite books of all time. I had no idea it was a debut until I started looking for books to write about! I talk about it all the time. Despite my initial rejection of the book ( I remember crouching down in my middle school library, scoffing at what I thought was a first person retelling of Sleeping Beauty), when I finally gave the book a chance, I loved it so, so much. There was just something about an unlovely, awkward, bookish Beauty that pinged me right in my awkward, bookish soul. Even though almost everyone who’s read both this and Rose Daughter prefers the latter, I’m all about the debut.
Count Anne of Green Gables as another book I didn’t realize was a debut. For some reason, I thought the Emily books or Story Girl came first; I’m not sure why. I was introduced to Anne via a friend in sixth grade. She had an Anne of Green Gables tea party for her birthday, and soon after, my family watched the miniseries. From there, I read the book and fell head over heels in love. It helped that I was an imaginative, talkative, fiery-tempered kid, although, to my great disappointment, I didn’t have red hair.
I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Harry Potter. I was in high school when my mother, a substitute teacher, first brought it to my attention. She’d been in many classes where it was the read aloud and eventually bought the book so she could read the whole thing. Initially, I couldn’t get past the first chapter, but I finally got a chance to sit down and really give it my full attention. I loved it. I loved every moment of it, I loved Harry, I loved Snape, I loved the world, I loved everything. I became a lifelong Harry Potter fan and have never turned back.
I think I assumed Marissa Meyer was an established author when I first read Cinder. It’s just so well done and the world building is so complex. I’m so jealous of the imagination these author’s have, the ones that can build whole worlds and magic systems and create such complex characters. I love the characters and the plot in this book. Cinderella retellings are my second favorite fairy tail retellings and this one was done perfectly. Cyborgs, lost princesses, and plagues? Sign me up.
My sister recommended Legend by Marie Lu to me soon after it was published. She told me it was loosely based on Javert and Valjean from Les Miserables, only gender-flipped. How could I turn that down? I highly enjoyed the book. Day was a great hero of the downtrodden, and June was amazing as a military star whose world starts crumbling around her. I think it was a strong debut and although none of Marie Lu’s other books have lived up to this series, I think this one shows how talented she is.