Although I enjoyed In The End, I have to admit that most of the beginning felt bloated and I ended up being frustrated by character inconsistencies. For while our main character Amy made (for the most part) smart survival decisions in the first book, she loses nearly all those skills and consistently makes decisions thoughtlessly to get herself injured or killed in the second book. At times, it almost felt like I was reading a different story set in the same world as In the After but with a character that had received a lobotomy.
Story: Amy has survived for several months on her own outside of New Hope. But then she receives a message from the City: Baby (and her unique ability) has been discovered and taken to the dreaded Ward. Amy’s only chance to help Baby lies with a doctor in a fortified former prison city of survivors. If she can evade the convicts and psychopaths in the desperate prison, she might be able to convince the doctor to free Baby and bring her to Amy. But the situation is dire both inside and outside of the prison – and it has a sinister connection to New Hope’s administrators…
Three quarters of the book takes place in the prison. So much of the wonderful and organic storytelling of the first book was lost in book 2: plot points and Checkhov’s guns are so obviously laid out as to be disingenuous (e.g., yes, we know Tank is a serial rapist/murderer with female issues, already. Honestly, did we need an entire signed confession handed on a silver platter to Amy in order to figure it out??!) and yes, scientists are all amoral and apathetic. I loved in the first book that we really didn’t know much about the world or people until nearly the end. That doesn’t happen in the second book – there really aren’t any compelling mysteries to solve.
As with the first book, the male characters fall into two categories: sociopath or servile. This is one of the few love triangle books where I didn’t really care for either guy (though I like that Lunetta gave us conflicted heroes who weren’t perfect, idealized, shining beacons of knighthood). But to have yet more scientists turn out to be callous (at best) or megalomaniacal (at worst) took away from the complexity of characterizations. Especially at the end, where Amy’s nemesis starts spouting off his plans for world domination, complete with evil cackles, it was hard not to roll my eyes and expect Shaggy and Scooby to come to the rescue.
Most of the characters of book one were ditched in favor of new ones in book two. And yet again, YA’s most popular plot device (read: force character to do something by bribing her with someone she cares about’s life) comes into play. It’s probably a shame to pick on this one particular book for that overused trope since it is happened in nearly every single YA urban fantasy/dystopian/paranormal that I’ve read in the past two years. But all the same, I always hope for authors to use creative ways to spur their characters into action and not the old “take him/her hostage and make demands of the main character” just so we can see how noble our main character is in her willingness to sacrifice herself for the ones she loves. There’s just too many rainbows and unicorns in that ideal and typically the world WOULD be better if she sacrificed that someone.
Yes, it appears the story does wrap up and this is the last in the series, though it is a very rushed ending. And everything ties up neatly and perfect within the last 10 pages. That was a bit disappointing, and unrealistic, and kind of a let down after all the promise of grit and destruction and death from the beginning of the first book. I won’t put specifics here for spoilers, but everything just gets hunky dory perfect suddenly at the end.
Admittedly, I did get a bit bored and frustrated with this sequel. It was by no means terrible but I couldn’t help but feel I read it before (especially with Ann Aguirre’s Razorlands and Perdition series).
Reviewed from an ARC.