A very worthy successor to the first
novel, which set up only a few survivors. The characters are intense and
show no mercy, making it like a wild-west situation. Just when the
reader starts to get suspicious, so do the characters.
While the first
book was about surviving a major catastrophe and invasion, this one is
about surviving as the remnant of humanity. The characters are pretty
much unchanged from the first book, except that they start to fall in
love, and get more relaxed as a result. The characters are all very
strong. They are mainly separable by their personality traits. I still
love the way Cory and Rob think things through thoroughly. Every detail
of a plan is vocalized, and worries are often internalized. They begin
to build this little community of survivors, and allow others to make
I was happy to see a strong female character in
Shannon. She knows how to survive, and takes charge of things that she
knows about. Unfortunately, although Rob makes many overtures to Shannon
to cook and clean for himself, he almost never ends up doing it, as she
insists on doing it for them. It's better than the last book, but these
books need to break out of more of the stereotypical roles.
the first book, I said that Cory never had to pay for his arrogance.
Here, it finally happens. Clair’s death was shocking, senseless, and a
necessary caution to the complacency of the main characters, who thought
they were safe in their own back yard. It was foreshadowed by her
talking about lightning striking twice, reminding the readers of her
encounter with the mean men when they were being forced to work for the
spheres. Her death brought everybody down, and made them rethink their
strategy, at least for a while.
Sometimes grief is hard to get
over, and sometimes events force people to push their grief aside. I
found that after Clair's death, life got easy again for them, as every
precaution paid off, and every threat could be easily backed up. Of
course, the book is more about building a community, and having
everything turn against them all the time would get in the way.
Once again, for most of the book, Cory was always “right”. In this book,
he pays the price for being compassionate in the previous book, which he
thinks was his error –but this kind of thinking is an error. In the time
before Clair’s death, and the time after, he always makes the right
choices. There is a bit of grumbling when he says or does something
controversial, but after that, things always work out. Unfortunately, he
is still arrogant, which makes his “right-ness” feel like it should have
some payback. Fortunately, Rob often takes him to task on operating on
his own, even though he always supports the decisions.
life of me, I couldn't remember how old Clair was. I felt that we needed
an early reminder of Clair’s age. It was certain that she is young, but
I couldn’t remember how old she was without referring to the first book.
Cory’s age is less of a problem, because it is always referenced to
I liked the dynamic between the characters, especially
Rob, Cory and Arthur. And I liked the way Shannon took an active
interest in repairing the family dynamic. Cory’s unease about being
around Shannon (especially turning crimson when anything about love or
sex is brought up) turned nicely to companionship and love, in a
realistic sense, as they passed through their trials and grief. Any sex,
near the end of the book (after he grabs pocketloads of condoms) is
almost completely hidden, almost too subtle. One scene has Cory passing
Shannon a towel, and he is obviously no longer shy about seeing her
naked body. Their pilgrammage to the outskirts of the city seems to have
included a bit of afternoon pleasure, as they fall asleep in the
apartment for no apparent reason. I guess older readers will take more
out of that than younger ones.
I think the switch between
welcoming strangers to becoming suspicious of their good nature and
acceptance was nicely done, but maybe could have been a little more
gradual. On the other hand, that may be the point, as the spheres
suddenly started interfering again (as opposed to gradually doing so).
Although they noticed that the weather remained warm, and that Bolton
was cooler, as well as one bird (and group of flies, etc...), I think it
would have been a little more effective for them to notice other things
mentioned at the meeting a little earlier, so that the reader thinks
back and recalls these things. As it is, the flies, dog and bird are
My biggest complaint about this book is Emily's
conversion. Emily needs a stronger counter-argument to the decrees of
the men. She is always referred to as a librarian, as if she had no other
interests (actually, all of the characters are defined by the jobs they
held previously). In that capacity, surely she has read enough about
tribes that intimidate the people who contact them. After Clair’s death,
they are being over-protective, which is natural, but Emily’s role
should have been to remind them what they are gathering together for.
Compassion is needed in addition to security, otherwise they are
building a group that many people would not want to live in. Rob and
Cory failed their first test, not allowing other points of view; she
should be reminding them not to become a police state –their
overly-cautious plans could be accepted for the moment, but she should
always be watching them, ensuring they don’t overstep their mandate.
Fortunately, Rob and Cory’s actions show that they understand this in
their hearts. Their words were angry and intolerant, but their actions
showed that they could think it through when they needed to, as when
Daniel arrived, and seemed like a threat. Regardless, I think Emily gave
up too easily in her argument against Rob.
Once again, this was
a last draft of the book before it goes to publishing, though I don't
expect any changes to that point. The book was enjoyable, and kept me
wanting to know more about how they were going to get humanity going
again. Setting up the RV campers seems like a good idea for now, as long
as their group remains small. I wonder how they will deal with a
continuously growing population... And of course, the suspense mounts as
we wonder how they will deal with the return of the spheres...