I have decided I am not a fan of the second book in a YA trilogy. Too often these stories feel like they are treading water instead of advancing the story. Sure, some stuff happens, but little is resolved. I feel like authors write the first book not knowing if there will be a second so the story is complete even though there may be an opening to continue, but essentially the author has told a tale with a beginning, middle, and end. However, the second book deal seems to come with the deal for the third. The author seems to think therefore there is no need to have the three parts when a third book is forthcoming. This drives me crazy. A 3RD BOOK DEAL DOES NOT RELIEVE YOU OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO TELL A COMPLETE STORY. There I have said my peace about that.
So the two books I have read and been frustrated by are The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, and Rebel Heart by Moira Young. Now do not get me wrong, I enjoyed both books as far as they went. I can also appreciate the need for a cliffhanger in order to get me back for the 3rd book, but I feel like little progress was made.
I read Rebel Heart first. While it was good to see Saba interacting with Lugh I felt like more of him was needed, or more Jack. I guess the third book will show how the two function when they are both part of Saba's life, but I felt we really got to know Jack in Blood Red Road, but the real Lugh, not the one of Saba's memories is still elusive. This book was the chance to reveal him without the shadow of Jack, but that just did not happen. I enjoyed especially the world building though new ways of living seem to have cropped up quite quickly after the death of Vicar Pinch and the take-over of DeMalo (who is just about the most interesting character in this installment). So I liked this enough to continue when the 3rd book is released, but I am going to really be looking for some rich storytelling to make-up for the stagnation of this story.
My next read was The Crown of Embers, sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I had high hopes for this book, but was also a bit disappointed. Elisa does take control of her kingdom and make some actual decisions about her love life, but so little happens here. I feel like too much of the movement was internal and there was a serious lack of action! The romance was the best part if I ignore the ridiculous introduction of primitive birth control. I suppose Carson was trying to include a message here about safe sex, but it felt seriously contrived and not at all empowering for Elisa to be making decisions about sexual activity and love. As with the previous book, I have hope for the final installment of the trilogy.