Welp, here we are again. It’s been several months since I actually read this book (you can probably believe that, since I’ve been a little more absent than I anticipated since then—sorry, y’all), and I’m still having… mixed feelings. Mixed feelings to the point where I’ve been procrastinating reading King’s Cage, even though I’ve owned it since the day it was released, and I had it signed by the author at the North Texas Teen Book Festival. But I haven’t picked it up, because of the mixed feelings. I’m not even sure where to begin, so I guess I’ll just… dive in.
Following the events of the end of Red Queen, Cal and Mare find themselves in a submarine on the way to an island off the coast where the red army is mobilizing, led by a murderous captain (who happens to be Farley’s father) and Farley herself. Kilorn is a full member of the resistance, as are all the members of Mare’s family, including her brother Shade, who is also a Red with magic. They have a mission, a plan that was mapped out for them by Cal’s uncle Julian before they left the palace and before the world went to hell—they have to find the other gifted Reds and get them to join the resistance, or they’ll be killed. It’s a dangerous mission, but it’s all they have. Except they’re not the only ones hunting. King Maven is also hunting the magic Reds and killing them off one by one, and the massacres will continue until Mare returns to him. So. There’s that.
Remember how I said I have mixed feelings?
Before we go any further, do you remember my review of Red Queen from back in the late fall? I had some issues with some of the plot devices, and nothing is different in the second installment of the series. In fact… it’s worse, if you’ll believe that. I’ll go through my issues again, to reiterate that this series is derivative and inherently problematic—and it seems to only be getting worse.
First, the love square is just stupidly everywhere, and more pronounced. Cal is still unflinchingly in love with Mare, even though neither of them ever really acknowledge it, EVEN THOUGH THEY SPEND EVERY SINGLE NIGHT IN BED TOGETHER?? It’s very strange. It’s like they just expect everyone to be okay with the fact that an 18 and 19 year old are shacking up (literally in a shack) in the middle of a revolution, and it’s all fine. Their communication with each other is terrible, and they’re all around not good for each other, but none of that matters. Eye roll. Then there’s Kilorn, who is also stupidly in love with Mare. This one makes more sense to me—at least Kilorn has known her his entire life, and he probably believed that they would get married one day. Likely, he’s not wrong—they would have. But Mare chooses Cal, and Kilorn’s feelings are hurt, and Mare doesn’t care. More on Mare later though. Finally, we still have Maven, the new King after Cal was forced to kill their father. Maven is hunting the other magical Reds and told Mare that he wouldn’t stop until she came back to him, until she chose him over his brother. Like… what?? Crazy pants, that’s no reason to start a war! None of it really makes sense to me, and these aspects made the book difficult to get through. But there’s more reason why the book was hard for me to make it all the way through…
There’s also the fact that Mare still sucks. A lot. More than in the first book, actually! She’s turned into this weird, self-absorbed, selfish martyr, if that makes any sense. She repeatedly claims that she’s so special, and that’s why everyone wants a piece of her, that’s why all of this is happening, the world is changing because of her, etc., etc. It’s boring and annoying and I hate her so much that it’s hard to put it into words. I hate how she treats both Cal and Kilorn, because she leads them both on in different ways. I hate how she treats her brother, Shade, who is my favorite character in this book. I hate how little regard she has for the lives of the people she’s rescuing from Maven, even though it’s masked as caring. I just hate her. She’s not that special, you know? Cal has his own issues and maybe is leading her on a bit too, but it’s Kilorn that I feel for the most. Poor guy.
One thing that improved a little was the depth of female characters. Farley is expanded upon, and some new ladies join the ranks, all for the better, in my opinion. It doesn’t take away from the trash that is Mare, but it helps make the characters and overall story more palatable. Speaking of Farley…
Her story (which I know is expounded upon in Steel Scars, but I haven’t read that one yet) is the most heartbreaking to me. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ll say this—she deserves all the glory that Mare takes for herself. Farley is the real hero here, and she’s also the one who suffers the biggest loss. Which is still tearing me apart on the inside. And I can’t talk about it because of spoilers! Gah! It’s a little bit of a spoiler but not too much—I said I loved Shade, and that is the truest statement. It’s partially because I love Shade so much that I now love Farley. Because Shade loved Farley. That’s never explicitly discussed until the very end, but you can tell from the beginning. That’s the ship I was hopping on board with. That’s the ship that I’d go down with, in this book. Even though I’m still, for some reason I can’t for the life of me explain, on Team Cal. Good grief.
So. Did I even like this book? Did I find any redeemable qualities? Well. It definitely suffered from second book syndrome. I had a lot of problems with it as a whole, and I was mad a lot of the time while I was reading it. But I get why people like the series. The world is entrancing, and the new characters were fun distractions, since everyone has a different power, and the personal lives of teenagers are always like candy to me. Did I hate it? No. Did I like it? No. I was in this weird in-between land where I hated parts and enjoyed parts, and then was floored by the ending. I wasn’t expecting that ending at all. I’m not sure where Aveyard is going with it. And I know I’ll eventually read King’s Cage… maybe in May or June. Maybe. You’ll get to hear about it when I do, don’t worry.
Glass Sword is available where books are sold, along with its predecessor, Red Queen, and it’s successor, King’s Cage. Book 4 is still untitled and is set to be released in early 2018.