|I received an ebook of Never Fade from Disney|
Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
Let me explain to you why I hate reading on my e-reader. Well, one of the many reasons. The biggest reason right now.
You cannot tell when the book is almost over. Sure, there is a little progress bar. But do you ever look at it? No.
You get to the last sentence, and try to turn the page, and what do you find?
Oops. The book is over. You have to wait another year to find out what happens next-- "next" meaning after you yell "AGCHGHH?!?" eighteen times and forcefully throw your expensive e-reader onto a hopefully cushioned surface.
Never Fade begins six months after the end of The Darkest Minds, and Ruby has been training with the Children's League since then. She's not sure she's on their side yet, but she's doing what she can to make sure they're on her side. Which brings me to my first point: Ruby Daly. You could read this book for her character development alone, and still feel fulfilled. Remember when Ruby was afraid of her power? No more. Remember when Ruby carefully schooled her face into a mask of indifference because she was afraid of being noticed? No more. (Now her indifferent mask is meant to keep people out, because her feelings are none of their goddamn business.) Her nickname around the League is Medusa, and she's earned it. Six months without anyone who loves her, or contrarily anyone who would kill her for being Orange, have produced a Ruby Daly who has no more soft edges.
Next up: Plot. There is so much more action and drama in this book. In The Darkest Minds, we had a plot that was kind of like one of those walking conveyor belts at large airports-- it was a smooth power-walk from one point to the next, without many off-the-charts spikes in action or drama. Never Fade is more like a rollercoaster: so fast and wild that you come out of it with wind-blown hair and a mild headache. But it's... the good kind of headache?
Moving on to... new characters! These two new characters in particular could have been thrown at me, they could have been lifeless nobodies whose sole purpose was to fill the void left by missing characters from Book 1, but they were not. Vida jumped out in front of me, told me we were going to be friends but I better not step on her toes, and then walked me to my car, threatening creepy dudes with profanity and knives. Jude walked up next to me, introduced himself, talked about his fears but tried to make it seem like he wasn't afraid, and followed me to my car like a loyal puppy dog. They're not Chubs and Liam, but neither are they replacement-Chubs-and-Liam*. You can't help but love them.
*No, I will not disclose whether Chubs and/or Liam are in Never Fade. Sit down.
The writing even improves on the first book, with practically genius tension-building and tension-diffusing both. Naturally comedic dialogue at all the right moments and heartfelt or strategic dialogue everywhere in between-- it's part of what keeps this book so consistent with the first one, when so much of the plot and cast are so completely different.
I have to say the only thing I did not like about this book was that there was so much drama that was not character-centric. Certain characters and relationships weren't given nearly as much attention as would have satisfied me, given the setup from Book 1. It was so focused on the action and all the different conflicting groups of people that the more personal touches, which I loved so much about The Darkest Minds, faded into the background. But at the same time, this made it exponentially more effective when the focus was on the personal elements-- when the characters would really step into their roles of who they have to be for each other, rather than who they have to be for everyone else (there was ONE LINE that turned me into a flailing, squealing mess). I just wish it could have happened more often.
Finally, back to the end. I have to talk about the end. I won't tell you what happens, but I will tell you it ends even more suddenly and torturously than the first book did. But instead of leaving you with that "NO THIS IS NOT OKAY" feeling, it leaves you with a sly grin on your face and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this time the upper hand is just waiting for your beloved characters to grab it. It's almost theirs.
Four stars for now, but I get the feeling this is going to end up being one of those books that keeps on poking at my thoughts until I give it five stars.