First Lines: The first thing you should know about me, the truest most important thing, is that I ain’t never really had friends.
Admittedly, I was a little reluctant to read this book. While I certainly remembered certain scenes from the first book with alarming vividness, I did not feel like I remembered enough to do this book justice. (This is a running trend with me.) But I figured the book would probably help me out.
*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*
Jane thought life would get easier after the fall of Summerland. After all, what more was there to do than survive and find her mother? But when a devastating loss occurs on the way to the town of Nicodemus, Jane is forced to question everything she thought she knew about surviving. What’s more, this “safe haven” at Nicodemus isn’t as safe as she thought–there are far too many familiar faces there. Caught between lies, the undead, and her own demons, Jane soon finds herself walking a dark road into the future. But Katherine Deveraux won’t let her go alone. Katherine never thought of Jane as an ally before, but when friends are hard to come by–and the knowledge that Jane needs her–Katherine finds herself developing a soft spot for the girl who is so rough and dangerous. Can Katherine keep both of them alive as Jane reaches her breaking point?
This is a solid read. Granted, I wish I remembered the first book better because it would have made the book more emotionally impactful. As it was, I didn’t really feel some of the dramatic moments because I didn’t really remember the people involved. However, the writing of this book is so good that it really didn’t matter. By the end of chapter one, I was already invested in the story. There was just something about the writing that made me feel like I was there and a part of the action. The writing never got in the way of the story, if that makes sense.
The characters are fabulous. We get to see this story from Jane and Katherine’s perspectives, which was a definite plus. Jane is headstrong and reckless, whereas Katherine is more refined and strategically clever. Seeing the same situation from each perspective was very enlightening. (It was also fun to see Jane through Katherine’s eyes and vice versa just because neither of them sees themselves the way the other does.) But even though they’re our heroines, that doesn’t mean they are perfect–or even good people. There are a few times where you really start to question whether a character is actually about to become a villain.
There’s something about this premise that is just so fascinating and I’m not sure just exactly what it is. I mean, the zombie thing–and how daring this story is because of that–definitely is a bonus. But I think what really draws me into this is that our main characters are diverse. Most are Black, but a few are Native American or a mix of races. I think their experiences often mimic what is still happening in our world now, however much we may want to deny that and just seeing that played out in a story helps me see it happening now even better. Jane is fierce about delivering justice and righting wrongs–and she doesn’t hold back when she sees inequality. That means every time there’s someone being treated differently because of their skin color, she points it out. Actually, now that I say that, I almost think Katherine does it more because she’s fair enough to “pass” as white. It aggravates her more than it does Jane.
The plot is pretty daring. There were a few points in the story, particularly near the middle, where I was quite shocked by the turn the story took. I respect that a lot.
I guess if there was one other thing that bothered me (besides my own lack of emotional investment, as previously mentioned) would be that there were times I was clearly missing something and I’m not sure what the cause is. I’m tempted to say some of it was stuff I forgot from the first book, but there’s something that happened to a character that we just met and there’s just this, “Oh hey, by the way….” delivery of information that I feel like I missed something huge. Maybe I read too fast over something and missed it? I have no idea, but I wasn’t a fan of that.
All of that is utterly fascinating and a fantastic combination of plot and characters. I do wish I felt more as I read it, but it’s too late now.