“He danced on the knife’s edge between awareness and sleep. When he dreamt like this, he was a king. The world was his to burn.”
The ley lines have been awakened, but Cabeswater is dying for unknown reasons. Meanwhile, Ronan has been having nightmares and difficulty controlling his dreams, and this sequel continues characters’ journeys from the first book while introducing several new players who threaten the existence of the ley lines.
***Genre: Young adult, Paranormal
***Note: This is the SECOND book in the Raven Cycle. Review for the first book here.
I must say, this is a tricky one to review. I enjoyed this installment more than the first, yet I found it difficult to differentiate between the two books as they both suffer from a lack of plot and character motivation. However, this book is the more cohesive of the two, and that’s because it presents a clear theme and villain at its forefront.
For example, the antagonist is highly reminiscent of the Joker from The Dark Knight. Apologies for such a cliche reference, but the villain harbors a hatred of himself and of the world that he desperately wants validated by someone like Ronan (a.k.a. Batman lol), and this nihilistic dichotomy spurs Ronan to reflect upon himself and ultimately shed his own self-hatred, a character development that I thought was very smartly done.
Furthermore, the plot still feels rather lax at times, but the author alleviates such flaws by the channeling paranormal events of this book to mirror the inner turmoil of these characters. This made the plot feel not only much less random, but it also served to unify character arcs under one thematic umbrella by tapping back into such core themes of mirrors and self-hatred, thus reinforcing the cohesiveness of this book as a whole.
In that, I’d endeavor to say this book is simply an enhancement of the first. There’s little for me to add considering the plot isn’t defined by any drastically different conflict or events from the first book, yet it feels more driven and deliberate as a result of the unifying conflicts under one reoccurring theme and villain.
“It’s only you,” whispered Orphan Girl. She was holding his hand, crouched down next to him. “Why do you hate you?”
Once again, the author blows the roof off with her beautifully cerebral prose. Such poetic intricacy might not be so apparent to the virgin reader, yet you can tangibly feel layers being peeled away from these characters as you read, and such complexity was particularly delightful to unearth upon subsequent re-readings of the series.
Not to mention, there’s a terrific web of implication when it comes to character relationships in this book. Blue and Adam’s dynamic was deliciously volatile, Maura’s love interest pleasantly unexpected, and the hints of romantic jealousy between Ronan and a certain other is highly intriguing to unravel: there’s an odd sort of “wrong makes right” chemistry to every single pairing in this book, and I loved that.
Therefore, I’d most definitely recommend this book if you loved the first. I have nothing to say in regards to the plot as it still feels quite loose and aimless, but the author does a much better job honing this sequel to feel cohesive, so kudos for that.
Bottom line: It’s getting better.
The lack of structure to these books makes it difficult for me to distinguish between individual installments. However, with this one, the author built upon the strengths of the first book (stellar prose and characters) while alleviating its flaws (via reoccurring theme and villain), so I give this book at least a strong 4 stars.
Rating: 4/5 frogs
***By the way, I died laughing when Ronan threw Noah out the window. Literally the highlight of the series for me. Oh, and I still love Adam so much; I didn’t think the author could elevate his complexity or angst any more than before, but she did. Yasss.
***And whoop, I knocked out the first two Mistborn books this week! About to finish the trilogy tonight, but Lord help me because my expectations are sky high.