(I have been provided a copy of this book by the author for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own).
Koren is a young celebrity and her life is falling apart. She thinks that her refuge is Aaru where her sister Rose now lives. But is Aaru as perfect as it looks? What is life when you will never grow old, where everything will remain perfect forever? What happens when a secret is found and that secret begins to take a part this utopia? Who will save them all now?
I have say this was a great follow up to the last book. Most of the story felt seamless and continued the tale really well. I liked that this one got dark but with a message overtone that wasn’t overtly obvious.
I really liked the depiction of Koren’s life. We all know that being a celebrity is not as glamorous as it seems. This book did a good job at showing what that kind of attention can do to someone as young as Koren.
In this book we saw how broken she was and how broken her family had become. Her father is an alcoholic, her mother is only concerned about her image and Koren is being forced to grow up way too quickly. This was shown really well. It wasn’t a lecture about the dangers of having children in a spotlight; it was showing the pieces falling apart until they were nothing but a crumbled bits of rubble.
I also found the character of Hel extremely interesting. She is a combination of multiple people. (Though I am not a 100% certain why that is). I liked watching her come to find her voice and herself. She has two sides of herself, represented well by depicting her as Hel from Norse mythology.
She is constantly trying to determine which side of herself to follow. Does she given into her darker side or does she stand with her better half? She is the perfect one to “liberate’ those who are stuck in quarantine. She felt like a leader character. She was oppressed and she knows what it means to fight for true freedom.
I was a bit worried at first when the topic of mental health was brought up, worried it was going to be talked about in a negative manner. Instead we get this revolution type feel. We see Hel fighting to free these people. We see that she knows that being mentally ill is not a thing that makes you a monster. You don’t have to be locked away. I liked this message and I liked how she became their leader. Granted she went a bit too far into the darker side but I am interested to see how that progresses in the future of the story.
I also liked Rose’s storyline. She is trying to figure out what her purpose is now. What is your purpose when you can create anything and be anything? What do you strive for? What does life mean then? If you don’t have to work for anything what is the point? I am hoping we see her find some type of purpose in the last book.
I had a little bit of trouble with the timeline of this story. I thought for a bit that the parts with Hel and her creation were happening in a completely different timeline. Then I realized they were happening at the same time. But I was confused as to when that whole process started.
I think alot of confusion came from the fact that I didn’t know that this was where the Magic Man was going with his plan. I didn’t quite understand his purpose before and I am still vague on him. I think the timeline would have felt more stable if I had known this was the end game the whole time.
I also wanted to know more about Simon/Atem. There is something there about him. He doesn’t go from someone who fights to help the mentally ill to working with a pervert to get back into the system. If he wanted to save people I felt like this was the last way to do it. I really want to know more about him and what happened in his life.
There were two things that really threw me out of this story. The first was the sexual elements. I was really uncomfortable with the Magic Man lusting after Koren in the first book in this book it was worse. I felt like these elements were not needed. He could have needed her brain for his creation but the sexual element was not necessary. I felt like that was there to make us hate him which we already did. Those parts just made it hard for me to read.
I also didn’t like the creation of Frenir. I get the Norse mythology parallels but I didn’t like the idea of making a mentally ill person into an animal. I have a real issue with the message the send. Just become someone is disturbed doesn’t mean they are an animal. That image bothered me.
I ended up giving this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I liked the way the story progressed just certain elements made me uncomfortable.
“Not having anything to complain about and being happy aren’t the same thing.” (pg. 107)