The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When the first book in this series came out last year, I thought it was promising but flawed. This second volume pleased and surprised me: it has corrected most of my complaints, and showcases an improved, maturing writer with assurance and command of their story and characters.
The biggest beneficiary of this improvement is the character of Astrid, the titular First Sister of the initial volume. She was more than a little passive in that first book; not so here. She takes command of her story and life, and--especially at the climax--turns into a bit of a badass. The other three viewpoint characters, the returning Lito and Hiro and Lucinia sol Lucius, Lito's sister, similarly benefit from this book's deeper characterization. These four characters rotate chapters, and this split-storyline approach also shows off the author's prowess in plotting and pacing. Just when I was starting to think, "I wonder when we'll hear from [character] again?" I would turn the page and the next chapter would spotlight the missing character. This contributed to the story's flow and steadily rising suspense. The final chapter introduced a new POV character, not "new" in the sense of new to the story but new as to not having a chapter written in her viewpoint before. This chapter, together with the epilogue, set up the upcoming third book very well, and definitely whetted my appetite for it.
By this laser-sharp focus on the characters and each one's personal stakes, the author creates a tight, engrossing story. We also learn more about the Synthetics, the cyborg machine race that abandoned the inner solar system to humanity centuries before, and has apparently spread to other systems since. The Human factions of the solar system, the Icarii of Venus and Mercury, the Geans of Earth and Mars, and the Asters of the asteroid belt, are still on their collision course.
It's so satisfying to see a new writer improve like this. I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to the third volume of the series.
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