This is a re-read review for the first two books in this series, which were originally written as one volume, and then split in two before publication. After reading them back to back for the first time, I can definitely say they work much better together as one story than they did the first time I read them, almost a year apart from each other. The arc of the story—the rising tension, climax, resolution—is much more clear and satisfying when they are read together.
My original intent for revisiting this series was twofold:
- To make sense out of it, holy shit. And it did make more sense this time! But it was also still pretty dense (and yet still readable at the same time).
- To prep for finally reading book three (and four, which is already finished but isn’t coming out for some reason until 2021, why??).
I succeeded in intent one, but failed miserably in intent two. I did not pick up book three. I just sort of glided right by it in my reading order. I still have it out from the library and it’s just sitting there taunting me. After all that emotional work I just put in re-reading, I don’t know if I want to pick it up yet . . . I guess I’ll just try and max out my library hold time and see what happens. Keep in mind, the first time I read book two, I couldn’t even muster the energy for a real review, just threatened to call the police on the book instead. I felt less attacked by the book this time because I already knew what was coming, but it was still emotionally taxing. I am talking around my trauma so as to avoid spoilers.
And after all that, I still don’t know how to talk about these books, which I have raised up to five stars overall on this read (as standalones, I would still stand by my previous four star ratings). They are impossible to explain well without going on for hours or thousands and thousands of words, at which point I say, just go read the book yourselves. They are an intoxicating, frustrating blend of philosophy, futuristic science, dystopias disguised as utopias, musings on sex and gender, religion, love, what makes a community, secrets and betrayals, and the contradictions inherent in human nature.
If you like being challenged, surprised, and taken on an emotional rollercoaster by your books (and don’t mind weirdness, or the feeling of being a little uncomfortable in a book before you really know what’s going on, this series might be for you.
Despite its challenges, or maybe because of them, I find myself pulled towards this series, and upon finishing book two for the second time, I mainly wanted to start another re-read, because it felt as if I was just on the tip of being able to figure it all out. I’m not sure when I will be able to start book three.
I meant to actually write something about this series and its characters in this review, but instead I have said almost nothing about any of it. I guess I just think you should read it for yourself, and also I am not up to putting it into words myself. Maybe I will feel up to it after finishing the whole series.