Lately, I’ve been a bit disappointed in YA retellings, but I loved Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell, a retelling of Les Mis, last year. So I’m so glad that the sequel, Between Burning Worlds, was even better.

**Between Burning Worlds is book two in the Systems Divine series so spoilers for book one may be included below. Check out my review for book one, Sky Without Stars, instead.**

Divided between the rioting Third Estate and the wealthy elite, Laterre is on the brink of war. Desperate to stop his grandfather, Marcellus joins the Vangarde and becomes a traitor to the planet. Chatine is stuck on Bastille as a prisoner when the Vangarde attempt to free their infamous leader. And Alouette chases after the truth of her past while the Regime hunts her for reasons she doesn’t understand. When a deadly weapon threatens Laterre, the three must risk everything to stop the planet from being thrust further into chaos and destruction. 

Do you ever read a book that you enjoyed so much a “typical” review just doesn’t cut it? Yeah, that’s how I feel about Between Burning Worlds. So instead of attempting to type out paragraphs with coherent thoughts about world-building, characters, etc. without just repeating myself about book one, here’s just a random bullet point list of what I liked (and a few things I didn’t) about this book.

Things I Love

  • It includes a beautiful map. With all the planets and details of the city and just wow
  • The character glossary at the beginning gives a recap of what happened in book one (aka it’s helpful if it’s been a year since you read book one but you can also skip it if you just finished book one.)
  • The characters. Who knew Alouette would turn into such a badass? Who knew that Marcellus would step up to the plate and do what needed to be done? (Without actually compromising who he is and what he stands for!) Who knew that Chatine would have so much heartbreak and growth and be absolutely beautiful? I just love them and I’m worried because one of these characters does not have a good ending in the original story and I AM NOT OKAY ABOUT THAT
  • The world expansion. I love all the details of Laterre and how all the elements are inspired by French history and futuristic ideas and just wow, but I am also so excited about Albion and Usonia and while I know they already went to Albion, I hope these two write more stories set in this solar system on these other planets BECAUSE IT IS SO FLIPPING COOL
  • New characters: Cherise is awesome and deserves so much credit and I hope nothing awful happens to her. Gabriel is a dork. I love him. Please protect him at all costs. Etienne… oh, you snarky, charming little you. I hope you come back in book three because you are as beautiful as your ship.
  • Parallels: So this book kind of takes a turn away from Les Mis, which is actually fine with me. (What???) It still has parallels to the story and it’s building towards something bigger but I love that it moves beyond just the narrative of Les Mis and incorporates other aspects of French history and also parallels world history with America and England. I’m perfectly fine if this series is more like an “inspired by” Les Mis retelling than anything else because I love it.
  • The Vanguard, the sisters, the secrets, all the stuff Aloutte learns: It was AMAZING. I love that this sisterhood is secretly trying to take down a corrupt regime by protecting books and hacking into technology and just being complete badasses. AND JUST THE WHOLE THING WITH BASTILLE AND ROUSSEAU AND JUST ALL OF IT. YES.
  • All the ships! Actual spaceships and also character ships. Because there are so many and I’m so torn and I don’t know who should end up with who, which is fine because maybe it’ll be happy if any of them actually happen?
  • That ending. I am not okay. I AM NOT OKAY. I need answers! I need book three! I need my favorites to all be happy and okay. OKAY?!

Things I Wanted More Of

  • Where Is Hugo?
  • No, really, where did he go? Is he hiding? Will he come back?
  • I just love Jean Valjean so much and while I get this is YA so it’s about the teens talking charge and kicking butt and doing amazing things, I wanted Hugo’s character to play a bigger part and I’m sad.
  • Please bring him back in book three.
  • Also where are my barricade boys? Please tell me they are coming.

So basically, it was fan-freaking-tastic and you should just read it.

Systems Divine

~I received an early digital copy of Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.~