This is just a small warning: since this is the second book in a series, it is possible there are a few spoilers for the first book in this review before the designated SPOILERS section at the end! Read at your own peril.
I actually felt like the writing for this book was better than the first. There weren’t any weirdly worded sentences until about the last 30 pages of the book. Near the end, it felt like some of the sentences, especially in Kane’s point of view, were missing important nouns and verbs and it felt suddenly sloppy. I don’t think it was done intentionally to reflect his situation at the time, since it happened a few times in Cassia’s chapters as well. Other than that, the writing felt just a notch better than the first, as if the author got a bit more comfortable in writing these characters in this world.
However, like the first, I felt as if the settings got washed out and the main focus was the characters. As much as I love getting such an in depth look at characters, I found the description of setting lacking and generally imagined these characters doing these things in general bland settings because I couldn’t really picture anything vividly. The books, and the previous one, were both short, and definitely could have used another ten pages to fully flesh out the world created because I was so engaged in the characters that I really wanted to know all about this new world they were living in.
Looking back, I think I liked this plot more than the first book. It was a little more driven with a full story arc with a few offshoot subplots, and it wasn’t as messily thrown together. Also, unlike in Starflight, the plots weren’t so ridiculously easily taken care of. Yes, the good guys always win out in the end, but there was a bit more skill put into the fabric of the plots of Starfall and the addition of new characters really rounded out the array of people who could take part in the subplots.
There is no surprise that a main plot is Cassia returning home and helping her people; it says so on the jacket. That meant that this book follows her and Kane rather than Doran and Solara. At first I was apprehensive about that, but as it went on, I actually found myself liking these characters and the whole novel’s idea more intriguing than expected. Doran and Solara had an entire book, and their struggles would have been dull to read about since they basically had their big life changes in Starflight.
There was a twist at the end of this in the same way as Gage was the twist at the end of Starflight, however I didn’t see this one coming like…at all! I was completely surprised and I think that’s really what boosted this up to four stars. Whereas the first book was pretty predictable, Starfall actually managed to catch me off guard and I was thoroughly pleased with that fact.
As stated before, I wasn’t a fan of Kane or Cassia in the first book. I was interested in their on-again-off-again relationship, but not enough to think I wanted to read a book about them. So when this started, I don’t think I even tried to enjoy the first few chapters, but then shit got real with the Daeva and I was suddenly hooked. These characters were a bit more atypical of the usual YA main characters-e.i. Solara and Doran-and I found myself completely invest in their world.
Kane, was impulsive and brash but not in a “bad boy” trope kind of way. He had layers, and it was cool to see those layers push back and really give him development that we didn’t see in Starflight. He has a big storyline push at the climax of this book, and that was really terrible and interesting and brought this book up to four stars for me. The last thing I expected was for this character in which I didn’t really see much interesting in the first book suddenly become someone I was dying to keep reading about.
Cassia, although she is teenage (ish? I think she’s 19 in this book if I’m not mistaken) royalty, she does not strike me as a reader as that “chosen one” who will save the world. At first it’s played up that she may be, but that idea/trope is quickly squashed. Her see-sawing feelings about Kane were the only thing that really bothered me about her point of view. I almost didn’t want them to end up together (I’m sorry that’s sort of a spoiler but kind of inevitable even from within the pages of Starflight) and for her to end up with someone else, but alas it was fixed and I didn’t hate the idea at the close of the tale. It was interesting to see the differences in her thinking and actions when she was on her planet and when she was on the Banshee.
Renny annoyed me a bit in this book, just because I wanted to really figure out his thoughts about Arabella and I just…didn’t get that need satisfied. His actions sometimes felt out of place, but in the end he was still a great captain and he kept his family (his crew) safe. I did find myself liking him moreso in the first book but he had his moments in this book.
Solara and Doran had their fifteen minutes of fame in book one, and their story was complete. It was nice to actually have them being background characters. I know if they had been the main characters in a second book, their relationship would probably have been a main point and there would have been drama to break them up and get them back together. So, as not a fan of that sort of storyline, I was happy to just see snippets of them being comfortable with each other and their newfound lives.
I never thought I would give a sequel more stars than the first book, but here we are! I was super glad that I picked up this series. It was a little cliche, but all in all it was a fun read and I look forward to reading more of Melissa Landers’ books to see what else she comes up with. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes YA and sci-fi, as it’s very much “sci-fi lite” and it’s easy to follow. It would probably be a good introductory book for someone wanting to see if they like sci-fi and novels that generally take place in space with spaceships and the like. I read them quickly and enjoyed them enough, though I’m not sure if I’ll ever reread them, but that’s okay. I am only one person, I can’t exactly reread every book in the world!
Below is a section of blatant spoilers where I gush about certain events in the book! Don’t read on if you don’t want to be spoiled to bits!
Not many things to gush about here. I have to say that Kane’s introduction to the sickness/drug was not at all expected. It came out of left field and the very dark turn the story took from his PoV really drove the ending of the story for me. I mean, people cutting themselves for other people’s amusement? Futuristic gladiator battles? People lost fingers! It was so intense.
I had a feeling General Jordan was the mole from the first time he spoke to Cassia in the cell, aka his introduction. I first thought he was the enemy in the way I read that scene, so I was far from surprised when he was labeled the rebel mole. I wasn’t expecting Kane’s mom to be the rebel commander, so that was a nice touch of feminism there.