Sunny Day

Siege and StormI’m always glad when summer turns to fall, but I haven’t finished reviewing summer books yet! So if you didn’t get enough summer sun, I give you the Sun Summoner, Alina Starkov! She doesn’t just walk in darkness (see previous post) she dispels it, allowing safe passage through the deadly Fold that divides Ravka. When last we saw Alina, she was escaping the Darkling who had enthralled her power to increase his own. She abandoned him in the Fold, leaving him to perish in the everlasting darkness he created. Alina rescued her friend Mal, and together they sailed to a distant land to lead ordinary lives. That would be nice for them, but it would make a rotten second book in the series. Fortunately the Darkling tracks them down – he survived, and gained terrible new powers in the process! Even so he still requires Alina’s ability, and they go off in search of another amplifier to increase its potency. All the conflicting plans come to fruition with minimal resistance. A new character is introduced, and he spirits Alina and Mal away from the Darkling. What follows is a tour of the other districts countryside, complete with pseudo-love triangle, that reminded me too much of the second book in another young adult series. There is another overwhelming confrontation with the Darkling and his hordes, but Alina and her ragtag band of freedom fighters manage to slip through the siege. They take refuge in an underground bunker, and the Mockingjay Sun Summoner becomes a symbol of the uprising to come in the last book in the trilogy. I didn’t care for the third book in that other popular series, so I wouldn’t continue reading this series if not for a singular surprise in the ending. I prefer Bardugo’s short fables set in the same world, such as “The Too-Clever Fox,” to the tired trilogy approach.

FragmentsFragments by Dan Wells is an example of a second book in a series that is more exciting than the first. It’s not an example of a summer book – came out in February – but I read it in June and I’m reviewing it in September. I deliberately waited until I read Siege and Storm so I could review the two books together. I anticipate doing the same with the third books – Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3) and Ruins (Partials Sequence #3) – when they come out next year.

After learning that she is neither human (as she was brought up) nor a standard Partial (the enemies she was brought up to fear), Kira sets out on a voyage of discovery. She hopes to discover the truth about her own nature and hopefully unlock the secret to the survival of both races. Leaving behind Marcus, her human companion who wouldn’t understand, she goes off with Samm, her Partial counterpart with whom she cannot link. She is trying to embrace both sides, to bring them together and save both sides, but she is rejected by both sides. Kira is not mistaken for a saint or fanatically followed like Alina. She does get to travel cross-country, but in the place of the Shadow Fold there is the Desolation of the Midwest caused by the destruction of the oil fields of Texas. Flying monsters are replaced by acid rains. No edible forage remains for their horses, no bridges remain for crossing overflowing rivers. Kira and her traveling companions don’t have a fantastic flying contraption like Alina uses to traverse the wasteland, so they have to find their own innovative ways to cross. Where Ravka is thinly veiled, this post-apocalyptic America is nuanced and believable. First they travel to flooded Chicago, then on to ravaged Denver. It is a long journey on horseback, but the pace doesn’t slow down. Surviving the trip is challenging enough – one of the foursome doesn’t see the end destination – and finding the information they seek hits snag after snag. In pursuit of Kira and her peculiar genetic profile is the nefarious Dr. Morgan, from whom Samm helped her escape in book one. Wells broadens the scope and deepens the plot in book two, making it more compelling as the story progresses. I read Partials in May and Fragments in June, but even with waiting until September to write this review it still seems like a long wait for the conclusion of the series in March!

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