Book two in the Matsumoto Trilogy.
Vera is no longer a passive, brain-washed teen. Now she’s on a prison planet filled with shadowy aliens and ‘allies’ who want her dead. There’s only one thing she wants: escape. But to get it, she’ll have to become bolder than she ever dreamed was possible.
What I like about this series is the excellent prose, the depth of characterisation, the complex and unpredictable story lines and the political and social themes that reflect our own world. What I don’t like is the lack of copy editing. Thankfully, there weren’t as many errors in this book as in the first, but there were still more than there should be in a book I had to pay for. So why did I pay for it when the first was so full of errors that I was constantly reminded that I was reading? Why did I decide to keep reading? Because the author writes really good stories, and this is even better than the first one.
In this book she explores the idea of shadow people: basically souls who can manifest in a visible shadow form with the ability to interact with the physical. The shadow people are conceptually a little flawed in that they are dead to the physical world but can still interact with it physically, however, this series is strictly speaking more fantasy than sci fi, so we can suspend belief a bit here. They certainly make for interesting characters and a unique and imaginative story.
Vera and Roman are estranged in this book, but their connection via the computer still works, though in unusual ways. They can’t talk to each other, but sometimes they can see what the other sees—and that’s not always good. This is a clever way to allow the reader to see through Roman’s eyes as well as Vera’s.
Vera’s character develops a lot in this book as she comes to realise the truth about her cousin, the emperor, and how he really runs the empire. She wishes she wasn’t a Matsumoto, but she looks like one, so she can’t escape people’s expectations, projections and, often, hatred, and her own sense of responsibility. In this book she finds herself still trying to get in good with her cousin, but that changes in the next book.
3.5 stars, and would be 5 without the copy errors.
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