The dead are not gone forever. When you die your body and all your memories are preserved in the Archive. There you are stacked on shelves, able to leave a lasting impression on the world. Mackenzie is a Keeper, charged with keeping Histories from escaping. An easier said then done job when the Archive begins to break down and her world is upended. Can she stop those responsible or will time run out and will she be added to the shelves?
I misunderstood what this book was about when I read the summary and read other reviews. I have seen people praising this book and I loved Victoria Schwab so I knew I had to read this one.
I thought that the idea was that people’s consciousness were preserved in literal books. Instead their bodies are recreated in this Archive and that is where their memories are stored. I really liked the concept. I liked the idea that when you die you are not dead and gone forever. I liked the idea that there is a literal library of people and their histories. Each person is important because of the life they have lived and the things they have learned throughout that life. I loved the idea of preserving everyone.
I thought the pacing of this story as great as well. It didn’t drag on. The mystery was presented early and I liked that our main character was the one to stumble upon the mystery right away. She didn’t just hover around waiting for someone to tell her what to do. She was curious and began investigating. She worked to find the answers she wanted.
The story moved a perfect pace. We got our mystery and pieces were slowly revealed bit by bit. I liked that we weren’t stumbling around wondering what was going on or the end being just a huge info dump. Everything seemed to work in the right order.
Wes was my favorite character in this book. He felt original and fresh. I loved that he wore earrings, nail polish and eyeliner. I loved that he is an individual and he isn’t someone who is going to fall into a generic category. I think too many times male characters are just described as handsome in a super generic way. Wes felt more dynamic and real.
I could have used a bit more detail about how the Archive itself works. I don’t quite understand how they get all the people and their memories there. The world isn’t magical one so I am unsure how that works. Especially since it is so secretive. It isn’t like everyone knows about it yet everyone is cataloged there.
I also saw hints of one of my least favorite things in this story near the end. Thankfully it didn’t go that route but I still feel like the possibility for it, is there in the sequel. The idea that you don’t have to tell someone something in order to protect them. I hate the idea of keeping secrets because you want to keep someone safe. It never works and I hope it doesn’t become a thing in the next book.
I enjoyed the whole ride of this book. I see hints of where the next book could go. I didn’t have anything that threw me out of the story and made me want to put it down.
I have this book 4 stars. I really enjoyed the story, the characters and am excited to read Unbound to see where the story goes.
“We leave memories on objects we love and cherish, things we use and wear down.” pg. 26
“Lying is easy, but lonely.” pg. 84
“Things only hurt more when you can see them.” pg.251
Mae is beyond excited, she has been hired at the most sought after company in the world. She knows she has to prove herself and she is ready to do whatever is necessary to climb the ranks. The Circle is the leader in technology. Though as she gets deeper into the company Mae begins to understand the scary implications of the work they are doing. Will she fight back or will she succumb to the power of The Circle?
I thought the way the book goes into the power of brainwashing is fascinating. There wasn’t too much plot and the character development was minimal; what really drives this book is the reader watching as Mae falls deeper and deeper into this cult like atmosphere.
It is interesting because it starts off pretty benign. You see her beginning to think like the heads of the company want her to think. And as a reader you agree with some of the way they frame the new development. You agree that you want the world to be safer. But as an outsider you also are able to think deeply about what this new way of life could mean for the world itself.
I sat there reading thinking of how terrifying this whole process seemed. Mae questions things at first but she is quickly told to back off. She is manipulated by how she is given certain questions. She is told to think in one way and when she fights back they make her feel guilty. They twist every word she says and make her feel like she is in the wrong even though her concerns are valid.
I also thought the way the technology evolved was interesting. I read it wondering what they could possibly try to do next and it just got worse and worse. The scariest part is that this is all very possible. We let technology into every part of our lives and we think it is okay but this book shows how far it can go.
I was captured by the way the world is taken into the hands of this company and molded to who they want the world to be. As a reader you read hoping to take notes and know what to look for in case this becomes to close to reality.
I thought the plot itself was lacking a bit. Most of this story was about how the technology progresses and they get closer to closing the Circle. There is a lot of hearing about the new techniques.
Near the end you start to see hints of resistance. I wanted a bit more from this part thought. I also wanted to know more about the founders of the company. I thought they were too flat. I thought that if I understood them a bit more I could understand how this company began. I think deepening their characters would have made the reader feel a bit conflicted about how they see the world. We get hints of what they wanted with this company but I think if we got their POV too I would have had trouble damning their ideas.
I had a bit of an issue with Mae’s character. I felt she was to naive. She accepted everything quite quickly. While she did question things for a minute it wasn’t much.
There is one moment in the first few pages that made me wonder what was wrong with her. She is getting all her passwords and paperwork done on her first day. She is told to sign something but not to ask what it is. She doesn’t even question this idea. She just does it without a thought. I sat there wondering how you could ever sign something without knowing what you signing.
She also is given a new tablet and she is told to upload her personal computer to the new tablet. She is then told all her personal computer information is now in the company’s cloud. Again she doesn’t even think twice about this. How can you literally give all your personal information over to your work place without thinking about it? Work and personal should be separate but she just does it.
I had trouble understanding that anyone wouldn’t at least think this was weird. Now this could be because of the world itself but the world is set up to be much liker ours. I can’t see anyone I know not thinking this is strange and fighting it. This set Mae as too gullible and easy to manipulate too me. I wanted her to be a bit more of a fighter.
I also had an issue with her relationship. She kept going back to someone who was creepy. He taped them without her consent and then made her feel guilty for wanting him to delete it. She then was manipulated into agreeing with him through the system. I don’t blame her for this as much as the system and I thought this depiction was disturbing. I really didn’t like the relationship aspect in this story.
I have this book 3 stars. I enjoyed it I just thought it could have done with a bit more development of the side characters and a bit more focus on the actual plot.
“All that happens must be known” – pg. 68
“It was a kind of micro, but it was incomplete, distorted. And if Francis wanted any or all of that information, why couldn’t he just ask her?” – pg. 126 – This touched on the one time she fought the system but she quickly fell back into line. It also hints at a very problematic relationship.
“Now we’re all God.” pg. 398
“That the volume of information, of data, or judgements, of measurements, was too much, and there were too many people, and too many desires of too many people, and too many opinions of too many people, and too much pain from too many people, and having all it constantly collated, collected, added and aggregated, and presented to her as if that all made it tidier and more manageable – it was too much.” pg. 414
We jumped back into David’s perspective again in this installment in the Everworld series. While we were in the other’s POV’s I was having issues with David. I was falling into this way of seeing him as love struck and wannabe hero. I was having trouble remembering who he truly was.
This book reminded me who this character actually is. David is a kid who is desperate to get back control of his life. He has not felt like he is strong or worthy since his childhood. What happened to him as a child has broken him and he is starting to see the real damage done at that camp.
I find it really interesting how this storyline is being handled. While nothing is blatantly stated or shown you get a good idea of what happened to David. It’s even more interesting because as a teenager I never caught on to what happened. Or if I did it didn’t stay with me.
Now this storyline I can see and I can understand the true impact it is having on David as a full character. He is very self aware. He is trying hard to not show the rest of his friends what happened to him. He can’t watch as his worst fears about himself are being proved true. We hear how he knows he is weak around Senna but not willing to walk away from her. This push and pull makes their relationship more than just a normal crush relationship.
I remembered this part of the main plot well too. This is the point where our group starts having a lasting impact on the world around them. They are introducing aspects of the real world to this new world. I did have a little trouble believing they could do all the work they needed to do in such a short amount of time. But Jalil is smart so I am letting that slide.
I know the next book is one that I struggled with when I first read the series. I remember it being about fighting and tactic heavy and less about the characters. I am interested to see how I feel about it now.
Robin walks down the aisle and marries Matthew, but no one could call it a happy marriage. Strike is riding high after his last case that put him in the spotlight and finally gave him the chance to create a successful business. Though he isn’t exactly happy with his own personal life.
Billy, a mentally ill man, walks in and throws the pair of them into a mystery that wraps up an entire family. Affairs, unwanted children, possible murders and much more take theses two through a mystery that makes them not only question who is truthful in the case but in their own lives.
I don’t read this series for the mystery and detective elements. I read it for the personal stories of Strike and Robin. These two characters keep me coming back to these books. J.K. Rowling or Robert Gailbraith has a way of creating characters that are alive and familiar. We feel connected to them because they go through many of these same things we go through as readers.
The end of the last book was a bit of a cliffhanger. We wondered how Robin’s life would play out and what Strike would do. The prologue in this book answered those questions in a very realistic way. There is no dramatic runaway bride or abrupt change of heart. Instead the way things resolve is a slow burn. It plays out as I think it would in real life.
I thought it was interesting in this book how Strike and Matthew’s characters were played against each other. This what set the stage for the majority of the conflict in this book. When we met Matthew in the first book we thought him the perfect fit for Robin. He seemed loving and their story was fairytale-esque. Then, as happens when you truly get to know someone, we realized that he is not the perfect man for Robin. He is far from the right person.
Strike at first seemed gruff and uncaring. He was about himself and wanting to make his way in the world. He didn’t care about anyone really but we see again that first impressions don’t tell us anything about anyone.
Robin wants to be taken seriously, she doesn’t want to be told what to do and when to do it. She is afraid of being vulnerable. There is some great commentary about the way a woman can’t show her pain and anguish like a man because then she will be sidelined.
While Matthew tries to push Robin into a safe space, which would change her whole world; Strike does the opposite. He acknowledges her issues, makes her confront them and yet lets her still do what she wants to do. He doesn’t force her to a desk, he let her continue working.
But he also makes sure she knows that she has to deal with her issues. He won’t let her ignore them. He shares his own struggles and makes sure she understands that he is on her side. He cares about her and wants her to heal but he also knows putting her in a box won’t do anything to help her.
I didn’t think I wanted Robin and Strike together after the other books but after this one I think they would work perfectly together. There is understanding and truth there that will make a good relationship.
The mystery element and major plot of the book was as well done as the other books. I have mentioned it in previous reviews but the way the details are given is thorough. There is no sensational elements only there to make the pages turn. It gives what would happen in the timeline it would happen.
While I enjoy the details of the case, the length of the book was a bit much. I felt like the middle dragged. It is a hefty book and I think that some of the details of going back and forth and who was riding what train were not needed. We would have cut some of that and some of the retelling of the details in order to move the pace up a bit.
What I wished was different:
I had a little bit of trouble keeping all the characters straight in the story. There were a lot of names and different players. I think it was good for the mystery element, more people to suspect, but I found myself wondering who was who.
I had to remind myself every time I picked up the book who was the main characters, who were the side ones and what plots mattered. I wished I had an easier time keeping everyone straight.
I gave this book three stars. I liked the mystery and I loved the development of the characters I just thought it a little too long.
Felicity wants nothing else in life other than to be a doctor; but she is a woman in a time that scoffs at the idea of educated women. She needs to find a way around the restrictions placed on her. She teams up with a mysterious stranger, not knowing what Sim’s ulterior motives are. She meets an old friend and the three of them embark on a journey to save a secret and a legacy.
In the first book, A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I didn’t care much for Felicity. To me she was nothing more than just the big sister character. She was there to tell Monty when he was wrong and to foil his plans. To me she didn’t hold any real personality of her own.
This book changed my opinion of her all together. We learn that Felicity is a woman stuck in a time that is not for her. She wants to be a doctor. She wants to be independent but she lives in a time where she is told that she is supposed to get married, have kids and take care of her husband. I liked watching Felicity come to terms with who she was and the world she lived in.
She had a fighting spirit that she kept throughout the story. I found it interesting that throughout the story she wasn’t told right out that she was some hero or someone who was going to change the world. She learned that she had to find a way to balance all aspects of her life. It was okay for her to be who she was and she learned that throughout the story. She was able to see that she didn’t have to resign her life to fit what she is told she has to be.
I also liked the three female characters and how they balanced each other throughout this story. Sim was a tough woman, she wanted to be recognized and trusted. She was adventurous and she didn’t back down. But she was also soft as well. She had a softer side which she showed to Felicity.
Johanna was interesting because she was someone who enjoyed dressing up, she wanted to be married and go to parties but she also wanted to study nature and make a name for herself. She liked being taken care of but she also could take care of herself when necessary. I think she played against Felicity’s character well.
The two of them together showed that there is no one way to be a woman. You don’t have to be all girly and poised or defiant and tough. You can be a mix and that is okay. That commentary on not belittling other women for who they are was poignant and important.
I wasn’t thrilled with the end of this story. I felt a lot was leading up to a very epic end but we got a quick handful of pages. Things were taken care of quite quickly and easily. Our main villain was taken out pretty fast.
I understood why things ended as they did, and it made sense. I just wish there had been more. I felt like it ended and we got to that last point and were just like, “okay, that’s all.” I wanted a bit more to make me feel tense and feel like we truly accomplished something.
I read this book quite quickly. I didn’t get hung up on any details. I do think the main premise was a bit of a stretch. I kind of wished the creature they were after was easier to identify. I know it had to be something we have in our world today but I had trouble making a connection.
I think it would have made more of an impact if I knew what they were talking about. In that day and age it was common to mistake certain animals for mythical creatures. They gave these grand ideas and names to these creatures because they didn’t know better. I wanted to be able to say, “Oh, okay, I can see how they saw that as this.”
I have this book four stars on Goodreads. I think if there had been a stronger end I would have given it a full five stars.
“I want to understand things. I want to answer every question ever posed me. I want to leave no room for anyone to doubt me.” (pg. 48)
“….it’s hard to be raised in a world where you’re taught to always believe what men say without doubting yourself at every step.” (pg. 69)
“But one can only spend so long booklets in the company of another human before one feels compelled to make conversation.” (pg. 210)
“You refused to let me – or anyone! – like books and silks. Outdoors and cosmetics. You stopped taking me seriously when I stopped being the kind of woman you thought I had to be to be considered intelligent and strong.” (pg. 246)
“So if you can’t win the game, you have to cheat.” (pg. 297)
Ben and Arthur have a chance meeting in a post office. Arthur stumbles over his words, completely out of his element. Ben is just trying to mail his ex-boyfriend his things back. What is the universe trying to tell these two? Can you be destined for the one you run into for a moment? How can they make this work? Should it work?
I had to get this book the moment I heard about it. I adore Adam Silvera. His books are among some of my favorites. He has a way of making you feel deeply for his characters. Normally his books are extremely emotional, while Becky Albertalli’s book are sweeter, cuter romances. I was very interested to see how these two could create one story.
I liked that you couldn’t tell this was written by two different people. Sometime when a book is coauthored you can hear the different writing voices. I have been able to tell before just by word choice and way the story flows. In this book everything flows right. It probably helps that each of them wrote one of the characters. Silvera wrote Ben and Albertalli wrote Arthur. They were each able to give the characters their own personalities while keeping the story as one complete and whole story.
I will say I liked Arthur better in this book. Arthur was just adorable. He was this guy who had no idea what he was doing. He kept describing himself as having “no chill,” and there could be no better way of saying it. He was always stumbling over himself and his words. He was a lost little puppy just trying to figure out this new world around him. I thought he was adorable. I loved the way he tried so hard.
I liked the theme of this story, that the universe had some part in the relationship of these two. They meet in a post office but don’t exchange numbers. They then have to go through an elaborate scheme to find each other. I am someone who constantly talks about how “the universe,” needs to do this or that. I liked that they equated parts of their relationship to being done for them.
As the story moves forward you realize it is the work done by them that makes this work. For all their talk about the universe they do what needs to be done to make this whole thing work. I liked the way these two idea flowed into one another.
All of the references to Harry Potter, Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen were awesome. As a lover of all three of those I adored the shout outs and references. It was nice nod to those popular things.
I know that the end of this book is a diverse one. I will say that I adored the end. The end, to me, fits perfectly with this story. It is real. It makes sense for their age. It also fits perfectly with the theme of the universe having a controlling force in their lives. I don’t want to go into too much more detail but the end works well because of how real it felt.
I wasn’t as thrilled with Ben’s character as I was with Arthur. While he did end up growing on me at first he was a bit annoying. He seems a bit self centered and that was bothering me. You could tell that at first he didn’t quite want to be with Arthur. I felt like he was so hung up on his ex that he was being a jerk to Arthur.
I wanted him to just give Arthur a chance. I felt like he was acting like he was obligated to be with him, even though he searched for him. In the beginning I had a lot of trouble reading him and I didn’t like the way he talked with Arthur. In the end he did grow on me and I thought he was good for Arthur but it was that start that made me a bit unhappy with his attitude.
There was nothing in the book that threw me out of the story. It flowed well. The characters were good, Ben grew on me. The story made sense and I felt ended just as it should have ended.
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads because I loved the sweet story. It was just a nice story to read.
“We’re not old-school Catholics who live by the Bible and convientienly ignore all the verses that contradict the hate coming out of their mouths.” (pg. 67)
“You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.” (pg. 148)
“Except it’s not over, because Arthur and I have to carry this around.” (pg. 242)
“I don’t like that the same world that brought us together is also scaring him.’ (pg. 243). (This scene in the train is what ultimately changed my opinion of Ben).
“Maybe it’s all about people coming into your life for a little while and you take what they give you and use it on your next friendship and relationship.” (pg. 328)
“I don’t know if we’re a love story or a story about love.” (pg. 414)
I am going to do a mini-review for the rest of these books. I have looked at things like the writing and the plot progression in depth before and I think at this point there is nothing too new to say about any of it. I want to concentrate some of these reviews on the development of the characters. This is where this series excels and I am curious how I see their progression now. I don’t think I need to do a longer review with these anymore, because it will just get repetitive.
This is Jalil’s book. I was having trouble remembering what Jalil’s story was. I knew some of David’s, April’s and Christopher’s but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what Jalil was doing in the story.
I forgot that Jalil has OCD. We see it from the first pages. He is enslaved to his mind and he hates it. He can’t fight it and he doesn’t let anyone know what it does to him. In Everworld though he is free. Senna gave him that freedom which makes him appreciate her but also hate her.
I most curious about how his story grows. Jalil is very logical. He loves science and everything has to have an explanation. He is trapped in his own mind in the real world so he uses knowledge to control everything else around him. He is going to change, take on the idea that things are different in this world and that is okay.
I still like watching Jalil try to make sense of this new world he is in. He is slowly realizing that magic is real here. That science is not the same. I am want to see how he begins to rethink his two worlds. One he is trapped in a disease he can’t free himself from. In another world he is free of that disease but he has many more dangers to fight. I think he whole story is going to revolve around this fight and I am eager to see how it comes out.
This book also introduced Hel which is who I thought abbot when I was reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology book. I remembered she was in this book and I wanted to see how she compared. I really like how close these books are to the real stories and how Applegate makes them her own as well.
Being an EO sounds great in theory. You get awesome powers and can do anything that you want. But you have to die in the process. You have to experience you breath stopping, your heart beat going silent. You wake up and then have to live with those memories. What if your death is caused by someone else? How do you live day to day with that memory in your head? What if revenge is all that you want and need? Can you be stopped? Should you be stopped?
(This is a review for a second book in a series. There will may be spoilers from the first book.)
I have been waiting for this book since it was announced. I love V.E. Schwab, she is one of my favorite authors. I liked the first one because of how it concentrates on anti-heroes. Victor and Eli are not good people, they destroy what is around them and enjoy watching the world burn. Yet you are drawn to them, you understand them. I was curious how their story could and would continue.
This book picks up five years after Vicious. We see the results of Sydney bringing Victor back from the dead. We learn that bringing people back from the dead doesn’t always goes as planned. I enjoyed Victor’s journey throughout this book. He is desperate to find a way to save himself. As he dies over and over again he looks for anyone who can save him.
It was interesting because Victor is still his selfish self. His first concern is about how to save himself. He wants to live and he wants to survive. Though there is this small piece of him that really cares about Sydney. This is his saving grace. We see him trying to find a way to save himself without harming her.
I like how Schwab is able to make us care about these characters even though they are not good people. All of them kill at one point or another. They destroy lives yet I wanted them all to win. She does a great job and giving us a sympathetic side to them, giving us something to latch onto and relate to. Victor wants to keep Sydney safe. He wants her to not turn into him.
The new characters Marcella and June are two people who have been broken down and are now standing on their own two feet. Marcella was treated like a side piece. She was nothing but a figure to admire and use. After she rises again she takes her power back. She is no longer weak but a strong woman you can’t fight or deny. She is easy to relate to.
Once we see how she was treated, especially at a certain party scene you want her to win. You want her to kill and destroy those who hurt her. You want her to show that she can be just as strong as any of the men. I didn’t despise her. She was a woman wronged and she found a way to make things right for herself.
I loved June, she is my new favorite character. June is mysterious and I want to know everything there is to know about her. She has a past were don’t quite know. She was killed, but we don’t know how. She is a shape shifter who refuses to use her real face. I want to know why? I want to know what destroy her self image. I need to know why she is hiding.
Even though she is hiding though she still is strong. She is able to stand on her own two feet and she doesn’t let anyone tell her who she is. She can be anyone and she can take on any form. She is hiding but she is also showing the world who she can be. I want a whole book about her.
I had this same issue with Vicious, the end was quite quick. I felt like the book was setting up this huge fight. There were so many players and we saw them setting up so many elements. But the end fight was done quite quickly. I pictured a sort of cinematic fight, with all the people going after one another. In the end we got a quick fight with a definite end. I just wanted a bit more.
There was nothing that threw me out of the book. I loved the characters. I was impressed how much I felt connected to these despicable people. I thought the plot kept things moving.
I have this book five stars because I adored the characters so much. The end fight left me wanting more but the end it self left room for more and I hope to see these characters again.
“Eyes were fickle. Minds were weak.” – pg. 57
“But there was, it turned out, a crucial difference between destroying things and destroying people.” (pg. 132)
“‘What does normal look like?'” (pg. 165)
“Men ahead of their time were always, by definition, outside of it.” (pg. 215)
“How many men would she have to turn to dust before one took her seriously?” (pg. 266)
“People can see an awful lot, and believe none of it.” (pg. 275)
“Every end may be a new beginning, but every beginning had to end.” (pg. 460)
Andrew should be dead. He was supposed to die in the accident that took his parents and little sister. He now hides in the hospital where they died. He is intent on evading Death, who is after him. That is until the night a boy his age comes through the door. Now he must save Rusty. But how do you save someone else when you have no idea how to save yourself?
The characters in this story were compelling. Andrew was interesting because he acted beyond his age. He was able to take care of himself in the hospital. He was smart and clever enough to hide from the authorities. He wasn’t afraid of being alone. He showed wisdom beyond his age.
Normally this would throw me off. I would wonder how a child could manage all this, even a teenager. But it is well established that this kid has been through a trauma that allows him to grow up fast. We see that what happened to his family threw him into a whole new world. One where he had to learn to sink or swim.
I also really liked Rusty. This wasn’t his story per se but it felt like his story as much as Andrew’s. We learn what happened to him and why. The details that Andrew gets give us a clear picture of what is going on.
I also really liked that Rusty connected to Andrew so quickly. He saw a kindred spirit in this lost boy. Both of them were lost kids who needed someone to understand them. They saw that in each other and connected over it.
The addition of the comic Andrew was working on was great. I really liked being able to see and read the comic. I think something would have been lost without that addition. I don’t think just describing it would have been able to give the whole picture. With the periodic looks at the comic I felt the connection to the story as a whole. I liked the mix of these types of story telling to give one full story.
I felt like there were some stories missing. Each of the characters had a tale of their own and you got hints of them from everyone but never the full story of anyone. I wanted to know more about all of them. There was definitely something missing from Father Mike’s story as well as Aimee’s story.
I found myself anticipating what was coming for them and was disappointed when we didn’t learn what was going on. I could discern most of it but I didn’t want to guess at it. I wanted to know that these people all had problems just like Andrew. I think each of them revealing their secrets would have helped Andrew grow and find his way.
I adore Shaun David Hutchinson’s other books. I know this was written before those and you can see him finding his way as a writer. While this book is great it is very heavy handed with its message.
You didn’t have to guess at the message even a little bit. There was no room for interpretation in the message. It was plain and written out over and over again for you. I am used to his much more subtle way of telling you something in his later books.
I think that if I read this book first before the other ones I wouldn’t have had an issue with this way of telling the message of the story. But I know what he can do and am glad to see how he grew as a writer. You can see he found his groove with We are the ants and it is great to see.
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. While I enjoyed it it was missing the punch that his later books have.
“It begins there because it’s important to know that a superhero with no past began as a man with no future.” (pg. 8)
“Maybe hell is seeing the lost loved painted over the faces of the strangers we meet.” (pg. 58)
“Maybe our beliefs decide our fate after death.” (pg. 99)
“No one unravels all of life’s many mysteries. They grow older and become better liars.” (pg. 123)
(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)