Here we are again: me singing praise to Ann Aguirre and you guys putting up with me. (Oh, stop trying to run away, I'm not about to start singing for real.) I must admit I was terrified of reading this book, but not because I doubted Aguirre in the least. After reading 11 of her books and loving them all, I know perfectly well what she's capable of. No, I was terrified because, even before starting it, I knew it would crush me into tiny Maja bits. And it did.
There's a reason for everything, and a million reasons for some things. The list of reasons why Ann Aguirre's books always affect me so deeply is about three miles long. I'm very familiar with her work - I've read everything she's published under her own name, some books more than once even, and I've long ago stopped being surprised by how consistently good she is.
Let's start with the worldbuilding, shall we? I can be rather nitpicky when it comes to dystopian worlds. I need them to make sense, but sometimes they truly do appear as if they'd been created by YA Dystopia Story Generator. (Hot water has been banned and the government controls fish byproducts, or something along those lines.) But in a world destroyed by a disease, with no government, internet or means of transportation, extremely violent gangs would undoubtedly form, as they did in Deuce's world. There would surely be groups of people, entire communities that would go back to old values. And some would probably find their way underground, where such a thing is possible. As always, Aguirre's world is fully realized and flawless.
But character development is where the author's skill truly shows. She doesn't just point out Deuce's upbringing when it's convenient or when it serves to further complicate the plot. She is meticulously consistent, and not just with Deuce, but with all her characters. Not many authors leave me in awe of their insightfulness and intelligence, but somehow, Ann Aguirre always does. She is, above all, an excellent psychologist and she knows her characters to the bone.
To call what happens between Fade, Stalker and Deuce a love triangle seems vastly unfair and oversimplified, although I suppose, technically, that's what it is. It is a triangle of comfort, hope and kindred spirits, and there is nothing simple about it. I may have hated some things that happened in this book with a fiery passion, but I never hated the characters for them!
Deuce is amazing, one of those characters take make you want to stand up and do something extraordinary for yourself and for others. She is grown up in some ways, and adolescent in others, naive at times, but a quick learner too. She grew up knowing nothing of how the real world functions, and yet it didn't take her long to start appreciating family bonds and friendships, or develop her interpersonal intelligence.
I suppose I should address the cliffhanger as well, as there's been a lot of grumbling around the blogosphere. It's a trilogy, and as much as it pains me, I understand the need to leave things open for the last book. And truth be told, this open ending (not exactly a cliffhanger) is less painful than most.
This is, hands down, my favorite book in 2012. I hope I helped the rest of you decide to read it, and soon.show more
by Maja (The Nocturnal Library)