Damn it. This book. I have so many mixed feelings about this. On one hand there were so many things that irritated the hell out of me. On the other there were these little glimmers of hope that made me think that this story is way better than it is. The story excels at being addictive. I just wanted to read more. Despite the book being as long as it was, I breezed through it. That says something about the writing and how easy it was to plow through.
Let’s address the big elephant in the room, the writing. One of my biggest problems with the first book was the writing. It was too overly flowery for my taste. The prose was actively putting me off because it kept actively drawing attention to itself and not in a good way. It was making me notice it not because something beautiful or insightful was said. That changed in this book. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t change completely. I was still irritated at times, but for the most part it was much smoother. The amount of flowery language decreased dramatically and was reserved for more specific moments.
The plot was still slow moving. Very slow moving. If you take all the events from the first book and combined them with this book the story still wouldn’t feel like a whole lot was going on. It was simple. It was about the little character moments. There’s nothing wrong with that. However it felt like we were spinning wheels while there were people dying out in the real world. The longer that this isolation and occasional jaunts out into the world the more I felt like this resistance was kind of terrible. I wanted more to happen to push the characters rather than let them languish in their states for so long.
This book made me love Kenji. I remember when we got some more interaction with him in the first book. He was like a little ray of light. However, it wasn’t until this book that I realized just how amazing Kenji is. He’s the kind of guy who cares, but isn’t afraid to express when he doesn’t like something. He has a smart mouth and quick wit and it makes him the kind of character that you know has a lot going on even if he keeps you at a distance. I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to see him pop up more. He quickly became probably my favorite character in the book because of how freaking amazing he is. Kenji is the heart of the group. Many times he feels like the heart of the story.
Then there is Warner. Sweet, broken Warner. We didn’t get nearly enough to him in this book. However what we did get was brilliant. Warner is a screwed up individual. There is no denying that whatsoever. He is cruel, but he can also be sweet. He knows violence like his own hand, but he has also seen suffering. This book we learn how crappy his life really was. We learned how he was shaped. Despite all of the negative influences he’s had, he has turned out sweet. He tries to hide it, struggles with caring, but it’s in him in a way that’s almost painful to watch. The more we saw Warner and how he interacted with Juliette, I was enamored by their growing relationship and what they could do for one another. They are very different, but their relationship is one that forces the others to grow.
Then there is Juliette. The first book frustrated me because she was so broken. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t that she was broken that frustrated me. It was that she didn’t feel broken, off kilter yes, but was constantly told how broken she was. She was stunted and had gone through abusive relationship after abusive relationship until she landed where she was. This book should have been an opportunity for Juliette to finally grow. It wasn’t though. For the vast majority of the book she still had these pressures placed on her that continued to cripple her. Adam held her back it it frustrated me. While Kenji and Warner built Juliette up. It’s stunning to see how much he crippled her progress. Once she got on a roll though, Juliette became fascinating as she made her own choices, not all of which were that noble.
Then there was Adam. If you couldn’t tell, I wasn’t a fan of Adam. In the first book he was a wet blanket . I tolerated their unsettling romance. It seemed like he was taking advantage of a girl who had never known what real love was. It felt skeevy, but in this book Adam just came off as unsettling. Juliette made a decision, one that already was not easy, but was for the best. Adam refused to let that live. He pleaded and put Juliette in positions that prevented her from growing as a person. By the end of the book I just had enough of him. Completely.
I kept hoping that there was going to be something more to the book. Yes, there was a good twist in there. Yes, the last 200 pages were pretty darn entertaining. However I still spent about half the book wanting more. I give it to this book for digging its teeth into me enough that I desperately want to read the final book to know how things will end.