My rating: 1 of 5 stars
HAHAHAHAHAHA…this book can go f*** itself.
Actually, no, that’s not true: this is very personal. You see, I am personally offended that this book even exists to try and rot out my braincells with each letter typed in each word in each sentence of each line of each paragraph on each page of this book.
Remember how in my review of An Ember in the Ashes I said that I hoped Ms. Tahir wouldn’t waste the reader’s time by spending any time on rescuing Laia’s brother? Guess what kiddos: THE ENTIRE BLOODYDAMN BOOK IS ABOUT TRYING TO RESCUE LAIA’S BROTHER? I’m sorry, excuse me? Is this one totally insignificant character we never got to know (let alone care about) in the first novel so important that we need to waste the entire second book’s plot on him? (Answer: NO)
But don’t even get me started on the character assassination that goes on in this book, or the overall character inconsistencies at that. I mean, let’s be honest: the characters are so horrifically shallow, we shouldn’t even bother knowing their names. But let’s just run through the tally: Laia is a special snowflake for no reason who doesn’t deserve either of the boys in her love triangle (gag me) to fall for her, who constantly gets into “danger” without any true feeling of threat to her person because she is special snowflake to whom no actual harm will occur, and who basically should have died a long time ago and still serves zero purpose to the narrative. Why is she still here? She ruins Elias’ life; she frequently endangers Elias’ life; and every single terrible thing that happens to Elias in this novel is a direct result of Laia. I hate this girl with a fiery passion that I cannot even come close to properly articulating.
Elias is brooding mope-boy who used to be bad but is now good and (surprise, surprise) is now in love with Laia because predestined-fated-love-romance (kill me) and Tahir obviously doesn’t know what to do with his character now that he’s not playing the role of reluctant hero who could have stayed behind “enemy” lines and been useful to the narrative as a spy. Cool. There’s also the fact he is literally just used as Tahir’s punching bag for this entire novel: he goes from physical to emotional trauma and prisons without respite (thanks, Laia), and never gets a moment to develop and breathe in a way that is not in some way directly tied to him being caused harm. Like…seriously? Your one selfless and brave character who was actually functioning as a half-decent protagonist in your previous book and you’re just going to cause him harm as a direct result of Laia’s actions and make him take all the damage so that Laia doesn’t suffer at all.
WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. F***.
And then there’s Helene…the tragedy that is Helene. In my review of Ember I stated that not only was Helene the only worthy character of the entire narrative, she should have been the damn protagonist. She had a definite arc over the course of the novel going from Point A to Point B — even if part of it was wholly unexplained by the end of the book — from both a plot situational standpoint as well as a character developmental standpoint. And then, for this novel, Tahir just throws it all away and sullies this character’s potential. Literally just took a proverbial baseball bat to this character’s head in order to induce brain damage and bring her back as something completely different. How dare you? This was the one “saving grace” (and it was barely that) of Ember and now she’s just thrown onto the pyre of “Things That Make Mad Want To Consider Burning This Book.”
Throw in some more obvious title drops (thanks, Augur), inconsistent character backstories (who was Elias’ baby-daddy again?), a love triangle/square that didn’t need to happen nor should have happened, and nothing — and I do mean absolutely nothing — that I listed as a problem in the first novel was solved in this second, complete with an ending that, had I not been in a bookstore, would have made me fling this book at the wall.
That’s right: I skim-read this book in a bookstore and even that was time in my life that I want back.
And this series (lol remember when it was supposed to be a standalone?) is going to be a quartet.
Kill me. Kill me now. Please.