My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There are some interesting developments in this that really moves the story along, especially in the Warner category. If you were a big Warner fan from the first book, you will be thoroughly pleased with him in this book. If you weren’t a Warner fan in the first book, you might be surprised at his progression here, and may even completely change your mind about him, or at least come to understand him better. (Also, if you’ve read Destroy Me, that should help to understand him better as well.)
Before I continue with the big Adam vs. Warner thing, let me start off by saying that as far as the story goes, overall, I think it was great. The pacing was good and it didn’t feel slow at all.
Ever since Juliette, Adam, and Kenji escaped underground, things have been edging closer to rebellion in Sector 45. People are anxious to make changes and the Rebellion underground are getting ready to make those changes, especially now that Juliette is with them. But Juliette still has to deal with not only her power, but her mental state as well.
Now, with that in mind, I found myself feeling very empathetic for Juliette, sometimes too empathetic for her, especially in regards to another particular character in the book, which I will get to later.
What’s cool to see is how Juliette deals with herself more than anyone else throughout the book. She has severe psychological problems from all her time in the asylum, being in solitary confinement, basically. And from what I understand, being solitary confinement really does drive one pretty much insane, so I can understand that trying to overcome the feelings of lack of trust, lack of sympathy, lack of feeling, as well as the lack of touch, can be devastatingly hard. And yet, she’s able to do so within a span of a few weeks. That’s pretty impressive. Almost too impressive, though, because it makes me wonder if she really has overcome all of it… I would think there’s still more to overcome in the third book. Sometimes rushing something like this can backfire in a worse way than people imagine, which actually seems to happen a few times in this book.
So, yes, in the part of what she’s overcome, sure, she’s a great character. But she, along with all the other characters, are certainly not without fault. There are really none of these characters that I would try to put on a pedestal. That even includes Adam Kent, though he’s the least of them (of the major characters), and especially not Kenji! (I know, I know, some of you even love him now.)
However, what’s realistic about the events that take place in this book is that nothing really is as it seems, especially when it comes to people. They are full of secrets and good intentions and misunderstandings.
There are some startling surprises, at least for me, and then there’s also Chapter Sixty-Two, which has been talked about excitedly by the fans who’ve read it and also by Tahereh Mafi, but only in teasing. I have to say, although it was an interesting chapter, I found myself quite disappointed in Juliette because of it. Maybe I’m being overly-critical, but this is one point in which I will agree with Kenji about her idiocy at times.
Let me explain something, people – just because a person is beautiful/gorgeous/god-like and that person likes you back doesn’t mean that he/she is “the one” for you, good for you even. Let them prove their worth, more so because they are beautiful. And three weeks of knowing a person just doesn’t cut it.
There’s a ton of romantic angst and such (some to the extreme), but there are also a couple of cool scenes in regards to people, especially Juliette, using their powers, and it continues to excite me like an X-Men story. I truly love that.
There are some new characters (some were briefly introduced in the first book) that add to the story and turn your feels inside and out and twist it all around, especially the leader of The Reestablishment. Turns out there’s more to him than anyone realized, and it makes for some really interesting twists.
The slight problem I have with the story are the many, many allegories that the author has Juliette use to describe her feelings, as if there’s aren’t too many to use. I don’t mind it every so often, but I found myself getting a bit bothered by them after a while. But hey, I suppose this is from a girl who all she did was probably write and think that way ever since she was stuck in that asylum, so I guess I can’t begrudge her of that. And the strikeouts are less frequent this time around, showing you that she’s starting to think clearer.
It’s interesting how the author uses the words in the book in an “artistic” way to give you a certain feel of what’s going on.
So, yes, the book has a great story to tell and some great twists and realistic feels and I thoroughly enjoyed spending practically all my spare time reading it in pretty much one day.
Now, I’m going give my short opinion on what I think of the characters after this sequel (still no spoilers, just my more personal opinions on specific people):
Juliette – She definitely progresses much faster than any other character. There’s a lot to admire of her, but she definitely has her faults and has some major lack-of-control issues regarding her emotions. She’s admirable in pushing through her psychological issues, but like I said before in regards to Chapter Sixty-Two, I found her disappointing me because of it. She certainly put herself in a bad situation and I have a feeling it won’t be a secret she’ll be able to keep in the third book, and when it’s revealed, it will be devastating for at least one person.
Adam – Probably the least regarded in this book, and when he’s there, it’s almost painful to see how little he can do due to no fault of his own. I just really want to give him the biggest hug and hurt with him because he deserves better.
Kenji – If I’m to be completely honest, I don’t know if I could be really good friends with him. Sure, I’d probably pat him on the back for the good he’s done, laugh at his silly humor sometimes, but I think he laughs and jokes too much at his friends’ expense. And then he presumes to know how Juliette is feeling, which annoyed me to no end, so much so that I really did feel like slapping him way upside his head. Sure, he’s had a hard life, too, but to presume that he knows what Juliette has gone through and degrade her for feeling totally insecure because of it is tactless and just pompous of him. I know he means well, but I feel his approach was just completely inconsiderate. He obviously is a good tactical leader and very smart, but I also feel like he’s hiding too much of himself sometimes. I want to like him more, but I really have a hard time with him.
Warner – Ah, Warner. He’s the most complicated of them all. He definitely didn’t deserve such a past, no one does, and like all the rest of them, he’s too young to be hated. But he’s gone through too much in his life and it’s going to take a lot more than a few weeks to tear through the walls he’s built up all his life. Warner is fighting with how he’s been raised to think and what he feels and what he thinks about himself. There are many things wrong with him to keep him at bay, but at the same time, you want him to be better, and like Juliette, you know he can be. I certainly don’t love him, though. At least not yet.
As for the whole “Warner vs. Adam” thing, let me just say that if you prefer one over the other, just know that both have a lot for you to sympathize about. Both still have a lot to overcome, and I really don’t know what it all means for Juliette, but I would hate for either of them to come to an unfair conclusion when all is done with the trilogy. Both deserve a second chance, a way to turn things around for the better, despite both wanting the same person.