Our motley crew of Alina and company pick up where they left off in book two, questing for the third amplifier, which we know is key to giving Alina a fighting chance in the final showdown with The Darkling. The whole series has been leading toward this battle, so no surprises there. There is a reveal about the true nature of the amplifier that is a surprise of sorts, but as she’s hinted at it from book one, becoming more aggressive and obvious as the books have gone on, it’s more like “oh, she’s saying out loud that thing I’ve known since the middle of book one.”
If anything, the only surprises are that she wraps it all up very tidily in the end. I was willing to stomach a “happily ever after” for two characters I didn’t much care for, but I was distracted by Alina’s deep sympathy for The Darkling. “He’s a little boy.” Pass. He’s like two hundred years old and committed to destruction, but unable to see that his convictions are misguided and his actions are going to rip the world apart. He is not a victim. It would be like if The Avengers were like RIP Thanos, you know not what you did. Like yes, you totally knew and you did it anyway. Burn forever, Darkling.
I have one final bone (see what I did there) to pick with Bardugo as her writing created the scenario where I read a sex scene out loud to my kid. Could I have stopped reading or just skipped ahead? Certainly, but I’ve been a reader longer than I’ve been a parent so I bravely forged ahead (and by bravely I mean filled up passed my eyeballs with embarrassment). I was briefly saved by the ring of my cell phone as my dear husband, sensing my rising panic from the back of the house and called me, but I took a moment and finished out the chapter because dammit, that’s what readers do.
There is one more series in this ‘verse I haven’t tackled yet, the King of Scars duology, and I’m on the fence about it, but if the kiddo is in, then I suppose I am too. But so help me if there is a sex scene, he’s on his own.