Author: Tara Hudson
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance
Release Date: June 5, 2012 (expected)
Summary: Amelia—still caught between life and death—must fight for every moment of her relationship with the human boy Joshua. They can hardly even kiss without Amelia accidentally dematerializing. Looking for answers, they go to visit some of Joshua’s Seer relatives in New Orleans. But even in a city so famously steeped in the supernatural, Amelia ends up with more questions than answers…and becomes increasingly convinced that she and Joshua can never have a future together.Wandering through the French Quarter, Amelia meets other in-between ghosts, and begins to seriously consider joining them. And then she meets Gabrielle. Somehow, against impossible odds, Gaby has found a way to live a sort of half-life…a half-life for which Amelia would pay any price. Torn between two worlds, Amelia must choose carefully, before the evil spirits of the netherworld choose for her.
☆: 4/5 – Not as good as the first book, but still a solid sequel.
Review: While this sequel was good, I wasn’t quite grooving on it as much as I did the first book. Why? There was a bit of middle book syndrome going on here – there was a lot of repetition from the first book in the sense of some of the major plot arcs, and a lot of unused potential with the character of Gaby and her brother, Felix. I wish that we could have had more of them throughout the book, instead of just getting the last half (or so) dedicated to seeing Gaby for help about Amelia’s ghostly issues. While I did enjoy this sequel, it did leave me wanting for more in some pretty significant areas.
Fans of the first book will probably enjoy this one too – we have some serious chemistry between Joshua and Amelia still going on, but at the same time there’s a lot of wandering, pining, and moping on the part of Amelia (though I guess if I were in her state, I’d be doing all of the above, too). I was hoping for more momentum in how the plots were executed than I actually got, and the first third of the book dragged significantly to the point where I was starting to get bored.
To be quite frank, even the ending wasn’t exactly as fulfilling as the first book. There was the repeat of the demons trying to lure Amelia, Jillian, and Joshua to the Netherworld to drag them into it (we still don’t know WHY – which was possibly the most frustrating part of this whole thing – if it was mentioned it went over my head) mixed in with some new characters and a new method of doing so. But what I wanted was more of New Orleans and the Voodoo culture with Gaby and Felix, and I feel like Hudson only scraped the surface of the potential she had with everything she could have done with this major plot point with these two characters.
Gaby and Felix, for being major characters in the book, could have been used way more, but with the way they tied back into the worldbuilding (more on that later), I’m okay with it in the end. I am hoping for maybe an outtake or a novella featuring the two of them because I definitely think they deserve more of their own story/character arc instead of just how they were created and used in this book. I’m in love with the Voodoo world and queen here, and I feel like this could have been tapped far more than it was – and Gaby was the perfect way to do this. So please? A novella with Gaby and Felix? I’d love something with them in it. Maybe a prequel in terms of how they got to be the way they were in this installment of the series.
I a bit was disappointed. Not to the point where I won’t pick up the last book – you can be sure I will be reading the last book when it comes out next year – but still to the point where when I finished, I just felt like there was a little too much filler and felt the symptoms of middle book syndrome hitting me hard. I feel like the first third of the book could have had a better transition into the family roadtrip to New Orleans for the holidays instead of having Amelia repeatedly deal with random materialization/vanishing problems whenever she got intimate with Joshua (we went through this in book one, remember?) – perhaps another draft for the first third might have been better. Or maybe starting in New Orleans and then giving some backstory as to how and why Amelia and Joshua are there would have hooked me a little more.
All of that said, I really do love the world that Hudson’s created. She really dialed her worldbuilding up a few notches through sensory language and this is what really saved the book (and what boosted it from an inital 3.5 stars to 4 stars). I loved the New Orleans that Hudson created with its cemeteries, voodoo shops, and French Quarter, as well as the house of the “unnamed actress”. It was so much more brilliant and lively and I feel like Hudson grew in this area the most. With Gaby and Felix (and to a lesser degree, Marie and Kade), I feel like they really brought New Orleans to life and weaved themselves back into the world, thus strengthening it. And as weak as the first third of the book was, the more we got to see of the now-ruined High Bridge back in Oklahoma, that too had more of an engrossing impact on my reading experience. The ending, though, was perhaps the most gripping worldbuilding of the book in terms of building on and expanding what was presented in the first book – here we really get to see the Netherworld and its demons as an overlay of our own, and it was really well done. So good on you, Hudson, for developing your sensory language and worldbuilding skills by using these arcs, characters, and settings! Though you could have done more with it, I think you still grew a great deal.
Final verdict? Definitely worth the read, my areas of disappointment aside. Fans of the first book should definitely read this installment. The worldbuilding and sensory language boosted my enjoyment of the book, and really saved it as a whole in the end. If you’re new to this series, start with the first book as you might be confused to some of the references made in this one. “Arise” is out from HarperTeen on June 5, 2012 in North America, so be sure to pick it up then.