2018 was full of many anticipated sequels. I’ve mentioned a few in previous reviews, but I wanted to spotlight the ones I read this past fall and winter as well, since most of the ones I was eagerly waiting to read came out at this time.
The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarrelli
The Last Namsara was one of my absolute favorite books from 2017, so I was stoked to return to the same world, even if the story focused on a different character. I loved Roa’s perspective and her desperation to save her family. But I think what I enjoyed most about the book is that Roa learns what truly matters and that Kristen’s message of love triumphs over everything continues in this story, even if it’s about different characters and plot lines.
Wildcard by Marie Lu
While predictable, I think fans of Warcross will enjoy the second half of Emika’s story. There were a few shocks here and there that kept me reading, but I found a lot of it to be crippled by dull writing and terrible pacing. It felt like something exciting would be uncovered and then page after page of nothing except Emika’s thoughts and feelings towards Zero, Hideo, and the whole conspiracy happening. I wasn’t that impressed with the outcome as it felt too neatly wrapped up. But there is still a lot of fun gaming inspired action and kickbutt moments. I cannot, however, condone Emika’s actions, especially her decisions toward her relationship with Hideo. That whole thing felt like a bad example of a relationship.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Strange the Dreamer was absolutely breathtaking, but Muse of Nightmares lacked the ingenuity of the first book. The writing is, of course, still beautiful, but it was often repetitive, telling me the same things over and over, even after I was hundreds of pages in and didn’t need a reminder. In addition, I’m not too keen on her connecting this duology to her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I felt like that was cheap. Plus, since it’s been years since I read her other series, I didn’t really understand the connection. It wasn’t a terrible book. It was still well-written with exciting twists and turns and lush world-building. I just expected it to blow me away like Stranger the Dreamer, and it did not.
The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell
The Last Magician completely enchanted me, and The Devil’s Thief did the same. This book is huge, and I loved every single page of it. I can’t handle Harte and Esta’s relationship without falling into a fit of fangirl squeals. I love how complicated and intricate and in-depth everything is, and I’m glad to see the other characters back in New York still playing a role in the story. I cannot wait to read the next book. I need it ASAP, especially with that ending.
Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
Renegades was awesome and I think Archenemies follows right along with it. There are still obvious flaws to the story, such as Nova being a terrible main character and a plot that feels anti-climatic. A part of me wonders if this is the case because it was changed from a duology to a trilogy and the plot would have been tighter if it had been two books. But I do like that the books follow the superhero vein by presenting moral battles and giving us enough action sequences that it feels like reading a comic book instead. It was a wild ride, and I look forward to book three.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
While this story gives much-needed agency to the Snow White fairy tale, it fell short of expectations. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a rich, dark story about the Evil Queen, but Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix feels far away from that story. The writing style and world-building is gorgeous and well-developed, but the plot suffers from a boring quest and an all too convenient yet unbelievable romance. I expected a little more based on the magnificence of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and I was a bit disappointed to see the male characters take over as the “heroes” of the story, leaving Jade as nothing more than a pawn.