Thanks to Sam, people are no longer disappearing from the FAYZ when they turn 15. Caine has been defeated and sent away, as has Pack Leader. But things aren’t smooth sailing. Three months have passed and food is running out. Sam is overwhelmed by the role of leader. More kids are developing abilities and the “normals” feel threatened by them (X-men anyone?). Lana is being pulled by the darkness to go back to the scary cave that the wolves dragged her to. And kids aren’t the only ones mutating. Animals are too, so we now have talking wolves, flying snakes, swimming bats, and man-eating worms, to name a few. Oh, and Caine is planning to retake the town but is perhaps not as in control as he’d like to think.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I wish there was one less element to the story. Specifically, I wish there was no darkness aka gaiaphage. It’s not that the story line is a bad one, it’s just that the others are so much better. So many fascinating issues are already happening within the town and with Caine, that the darkness seems like more of a distraction than anything else. (Plus it comes across as so much less scary than it is meant to be.)
The religious element was thankfully toned down this book while the other elements were ratcheted up. People stuck together in dire situations is always fascinating. It reveals a lot about human nature and Grant does a good job of exploring the different ways people can react.
To my surprise, I found main character Sam to be one of the least likable characters this time around. while I sympathize with the difficult position he is in, it does seem like if he took a few minutes to think about it, he could make things much easier for himself if he stopped insisting “I’m just a kid.” How many fifteen year olds ever think “I’m jut a kid”?
I’m also surprised that as smart and religious as Astrid is, she doesn’t think of one of the most obvious and biblical solutions to easing Sam’s burden. Specifically, to appoint judges to work under him (much Moses appointed judges in a hierarchy over the people: over thousands, hundreds, and tens, or like the country itself works with local, state, high state, and supreme courts).
There is a lot of poor communication that only makes matters worse as characters don’t explain themselves well, don’t explain themselves at all, or fail to pay attention to one another enough to see what is really going on. This I find sad but believable. It’s the sort of thing where you want to reach in and just shake someone, but in a way where you want to give up on the characters and book. It’s a difficult balance to keep but Grant does a good job.
With dozens more questions to be answered and more issues to come, I anxiously look forward to book three, Lies, which I have to pick up asap.