Whether you're looking for a diverse read or a good fantasy, this could be the book for you. The world feels lived in, the magic system is really cool, the plot fits together, the pacing is great, and the characters had me rooting for them. The cast is almost entirely non-white, since for the most part the light-skinned characters are busy in another part of the world (see book one), making the book a perfect feature for this blog--well, aside from the romance aspect, but more on that later. I enjoyed getting closer to the 'True Father', who we are slowly introduced to in book 1, and felt appropriately creeped out by the things that happened. The writing was really good, too, not just because there were few typos (and maybe those were fixed in the published version, since I got a pre-release copy), but because the sentences flowed so well, without awkward structure or wording. I enjoyed the first book, but I feel like this book really kicked it up a notch.
So, on to my only complaint, the romance aspect. I had a number of eye-rolling moments, for example, when our heroine has to ride a machine behind our hero; "When her palms met the firm muscle of his abdomen, her temperature, already high from the desert heat, increased another few degrees." Some things might have changed since, as I mentioned, my copy was prerelease, but you get the idea. Maybe there's a little part of my brain that's stuck in its nine-year-old form, and that's why I find this kind of content so…goofy? Head-slappingly nonsensical?... Then there was the obligatory sex scene, which was really, really, really long, and which I skipped, so I couldn't say how 'good' it was, but with that many words devoted to it, it almost HAD to be of the blow-by-blow nature. On the positive side, it was only one scene (thank you Miss Penelope) and I didn't feel like I missed any part of the story. Of course, this leads me to wonder why it needed to be included in the first place, but I understand that not everyone has the same perspective on these things. Probably some readers were on the edge of their seats waiting for it.
I guess when I think about it, the saddest thing about the statements of attraction and the sex scene, is the story didn't need them to prop it up. It could easily have stood on its own without relying on supposed sexual tension to remain engaging. In some books, the only reason the characters have to end up together is their mutual attraction, (truly pitiful, by the way), and the only reason to read the book is to see them get together, but in this book there is so much more. Lustful thoughts only detracted from their growing respect and concern for each other. I wanted them to get together because they really LIKED each other and had much in common, not because they felt all hot around each other.
But before you decide to pass on this one, assuming that the previous two paragraphs would encourage that, let me remind you that I really, really enjoyed the story despite my one little gripe. The story is much bigger than the romantic aspect, very cool, and I was able to blow off that irritation and get into it. I say this is an indication of the book's high quality; if it was a book ABOUT girl meets boy I would have dropped it, but in this case the plot and characters had much more to them. My guess is most readers won't even dislike the romantic aspect, and I'm one of the few who would rather do without.
Language: There is some foul language in brief spurts. The author did the kindness of exchanging an 'e' for the usual 'u' in the most used (that I remember) word, but it's still pretty obvious what it means.
Sexual Content: I think I've already talked about that enough. There is sexual content in one long scene, and then numerous brief thoughts about the attractiveness of other characters. I found that it did detract from the story for me, but that the story stood well despite it.
Violence: Yes, there is explicit violence.
Overall Message/Plot: The plot was great and I don't remember any instances where I felt that things didn't line up, or that the characters were acting contrary to what they should. I'm not sure if I'd say there's a message, except maybe that we can all chose to do the right thing, even if it doesn't seem possible.
Find it here.