Unfortunately, it seems to have become a bit of a given in publishing that sequels are generally a let-down. Maybe it’s a function of the first being more popular than anticipated and the second being rushed, but there seems to be taken for granted a drop in quality. Fortunately, in her latest series Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor holds ground.
Another unfortunate reality of modern publishing is that anything with a teenage protagonist becomes “young adult”. There are definitely some themes in here that are too mature for middle schoolers. A friend of mine is publishing a book next year that puts her in a similar pile – marketed as young adult, definitely not for 13-year-olds. She joked that if Catcher in the Rye was written today, they’d market it as “young adult”. Anyway.
We pick up almost exactly where we left off in book 1, with more questions than answers. In the first book, Taylor opened at the end and then took us all the way back to catch us up chronologically. In this book, she tells two stories in parallel and maybe it’s because I’m still a nervous flier it took me WAY too long to figure out where they merged. Felt more than a little silly after that.
The villain basically switches three-quarters of the way through, which is interesting and allowed for some unexpected character development. Most of the romance I could really do without. I’m much more interested in where it goes from here than in what happened in this book.