If I didn’t make it obvious enough in my previous review of Panther in the Hive, I love this series. Set in a world in which the medical chips inserts into the necks of the wealthy and those in corporate jobs have gone on the fritz and caused a zombie-like outbreak, a team of survivors goes west to find safety. Our protagonist, Tasha, continues to be a great combination of brave, quick-thinking, and vulnerable, without falling into any common YA traps: even her potential love interest and unique place in the world do not fall into the typical love triangle or Chosen One tropes.
This second book in the series further explores issues of capitalism, exploitation, racism, and complicity, without beating the reader over the head with obvious metaphor or simple solutions. Characters come and go as our band of friends travel through the country not as pat lessons but as building blocks to the point the book makes repeatedly: what societal sickness is bred into the country, not something expressed by one huge betrayal of its citizens. In some ways, this makes it a perfect series for the Trump era.
The Rooster’s Garden gets 4 stars instead of 5 this time around due to some clumsily phrased paragraphs and one that was downright laughable: usually when Cole does strive for metaphor it’s pulled off well, but a few times in this book the effect did not work at all and took me out of the story somewhat: that is the only thing that felt to me like the more typical YA novel. However, on the whole this was an extremely satisfying read and I eagerly await the final book in the series. I will be recommending this book to everyone!