Sequels can be tricky things for me, especially if the first installment is really good. Any subsequent book (or movie) after that doesn’t seem to have the same fineness as the first book. In fact, sometimes it seems as though there is a sequel just because of the popularity of the first, not because the creator thought that the first book was incomplete.
Fly Away, however, is an exception. It is a phenomenal follow up to an already great novel, and in fact, in many aspects, it is even better. On a base level, you can definitely tell that in the years between Firefly Lane and Fly Away, Hannah has matured in her writing drawing the reader in even further into the story as she did in Firefly Lane.
An indication that a sequel is strong is whether it can stand alone, without the first part. For the most part, I think the Fly Away does this. Sure. it adds a lot to the experience to have read both books but if you picked up Fly Away without realizing that it was a companion to another book you would still be able to read it and follow it. Hannah gives you enough back story to fill in the missing pieces without going into overload (so those, like myself, who have just finished readingFirefly Lane didn’t get bored or frustrated with the recaps. It did help to have read the first book, sections, such as Cloud’s narration had much more of an impact having already known part of her story from the first book but it would have been a good read regardless.
Most importantly, I wasn’t able to pick up on any major inconsistencies which usually happen in sequels, especially ones in which there’s a gap of space in between the times they were written. You can definitely tell that Hannah went back and fully immersed herself in the first book in order to write Fly Away.