by Ellie Aiden
Well, I so didn’t expect to not like this one. I really loved the prequel, after all: that one was perfectly paced and a brillantly balanced mixture of sassy sarcasm and dystopian elements. This one wasn’t. Somehow, it all felt off to me, starting right at the start. My biggest issues were with the protagonist’s actions while her best friend was kidnapped, the villain’s incompetence, and the pacing. Obviously, this review contains spoilers for the first part, Living the Way.
First issue: at the end of the first book, there was a massive and evil cliffhanger which was just as evil as the ending of this one. Anyway, the protagonist’s BFF has been kidnapped, and while there are moments when she freaks about this, they’re not consistent enough for me. Instead, there’s a lot of fun she has with her love interest and a ton of new characters before they start seriously thinking about saving her. I really hated that for two reasons. Reason one: the brillant dynamics between Anna and Ash were one of the biggest reasons why I loved the prequel. As Ash spends a lot of this one being kidnapped and tortured, there is none of that friendly banter for a very long time, and that made me enjoy this one far less. Reason two is: I didn’t buy her being that level of ignorant. True, Anna kept mentioning that she is afraid for Ash and that they should save her, but it didn’t feel consistent enough for me.
Second issue: the villain’s incompetence. One way to make a book excellent is a brilliant antagonist, a fleshed out, ambivalent, relatable villain. However, one way to ruin a book for me is having a stereotypical villain. That’s what happened here. David is evil because he is evil. He’s a sadistic psychopath, and there’s no depth to him. Also, he’s incredibly dumb – and him getting this much power while being so dumb and incompetent, making one mistake after another, just wasn’t believable for me. On the other hand, the protagonist’s friends are overcompetent, the General especially, who is able to fight off thirty opponents on his own.
Third issue: the pacing. As I said, I adored the pacing of the first book. It was hilarious and made me laugh, then it was darker again, all of it was perfectly balanced by Anna’s sassy remarks and her conversations with Ash. This one isn’t, and not only because Anna has to make do without her bestie for a long time. The whole atmosphere is darker than in the prequel, and it’s so dark that all of those tequila sessions and funny conversations felt out of place to me.
So, I didn’t like this one. The writing is still okay and there were still very strong passages within it, but I didn’t enjoy reading it as much the first one. By far. I’ll still read the last book and hope that things improve again.
by Ellie Aiden