Trying something new this month! I rarely review series books, unless it’s the first in a series. So I thought I’d do a set of mini-reviews instead. (Note: minor spoilers ahead since two of these reviews are for the second book in the series.)
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
I really enjoyed this second book in the series which began with The Bone Season. This book has a very different feel from the first one, because the setting is so different. The Bone Season begins with Paige Mahoney, a dreamwalker, who is captured and sent to Sheol I, a slave camp for “voyants”, so that the Rephaim can feed off of their powers. The Bone Season introduces a fascinating world, but the story itself felt somewhat predictable. (That said, if you like paranormal/dystopic fiction, definitely check out The Bone Season.)
In The Mime Order, Paige returns to London and all bets are off in terms of what happens next. Does she go back to her life of syndicated crime? What is going to happen to her captors and her fellow prisoners from Sheol I? What should she do about the corruption she’s experienced with the Rephaim and Scion? And why is no one listening?
This is a fast-paced, action-packed book that sometimes feels a bit improbable – Paige has big ambitions but no idea what she’s doing, and the forces that oppose her are much stronger. I loved the whole London-underworld feel to this book, including much of the vocabulary and dialect that Shannon creates (there’s a helpful glossary in the back). The powers feel a little nebulous to me, especially Paige’s, but I don’t mind that.
I will say I felt kind of “thrown in” to this second book, and would have liked more of a recap of Book 1. There are a ton of characters, some from the first book, and it’s hard to figure out who is who or really get to know them. But Paige herself is a strong, interesting character.
Symbiont by Mira Grant
Symbiont is a sequel to Parasite, in which humans suddenly start getting “sleeping sickness” – in other words, they basically become zombies. The question is why. A lot happens in the first book, so I will try not to give too much away here.
I struggled with the second book for three reasons. One, there was a lot of torture and medical experimentation, two things I do NOT want to read about. Two, it felt very repetitive. There is a basic storyline about what it means to be human and what it means to be a parasite, but to say any more will give away too much. It just felt like the same issues were rehashed a lot. Three, there are a few points in this book where a plan is established that is completely unlikely to work and most likely to kill everyone involved. The characters just say “but we have to do it” rather than coming up with a better plan. At the same time, when two of them are captured and tortured, no one does anything.
Grant does note in her epilogue that she put a lot more scientific research into this book, so those who are interested in bio-science will probably enjoy this one more. I thought the characters and story were much more interesting in Book 1.
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
I don’t have too much to say about this book, which is the first in a series. It felt too young for me, and while I enjoy Carriger’s writing, it just didn’t grab me as much as her Parasol Protectorate series. It’s clever, at least in its use of names and gadgets, just not a must read. It didn’t have much in the way of character development or plot.
For the uninformed, this is Book 1 of the Finishing School series. Sophronia is sent off by her family to a “finishing school” which turns out to be a school for female spies and assassins. The school takes place in a floating zeppelin, only they are being pursued for some kind of mysterious gadget and the question is whether one of their own trainees has betrayed them. There are the usual vampires and werewolves but only at a distance (they work for the school). It’s a decent beach read if you want something really fluffy (and on the young side) but it didn’t stay with me.
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