My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“You realize, Logan, no Markless has ever seen farther into the Pledge process than you. You’re the expert now. No one has gone deeper into the rabbit hole and come out intact.”
Logan Langley and the Dust are on the run, hiding from DOME (the Department of Marked Emergencies) who have been tracking him since his escape from the Pledge center where he refused to get Marked. Their destination is Beacon City, where he thinks DOME is holding his sister as a prisoner. As they travel further from home, on an underground railroad-type Markless River, they find out more and more about the prison where she is kept, and begin to realize what an impossible task they’ve begun.
I was a bit disappointed with the first book, but it seems that the second novel is, in this case, better than the first, with many of the things I didn’t like about the first book remedying themselves in this one. There was a lot more character development, which I felt was greatly needed, especially for the supporting characters in Dust. Whereas the first seemed too cut-and-dry, the “twist” too predictable, this one actually surprised me when Logan and the Dust finally reached Beacon and started searching for Acheron. The plot also included a lot of interesting ups and downs, and moved at what seemed like a quicker pace than the first. The Christian themes and references in this one surprised me, because there wasn’t really much hint of them in the first book and I like where the story is taking them. It’s turned me from being somewhat indifferent to the series to really actually looking forward to the third book.
I do still really dislike Hailey, though, even though she’s supposed to be a protagonist, and the story did still tend to have a Mockingjay/Crossed kind of feel to it, but added some interesting aspects to it to differentiate it from other YA dystopian novels. Some of the plot points did fall into place a bit too conveniently, and there were a few “yeah, right” moments, but I did enjoy this one more than the first book; I guess it’s a series you just have to get into a ways.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this novel to review!
Overall: A rarity, in that this second book of the series is more interesting and original than the first
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“I know you didn’t ask to be on the front lines of this thing, Logan, but you are… Whatever Peck is doing, it’s serious. Killing the Marked — and attacking a DOME agent — is serious!”
Logan has been nervous about getting the Mark — a sign of citizenship and adulthood — ever since his sister went to get hers and disappeared. When he tells his new friend, Erin, about what happened, she connects it with her father’s top secret work at DOME — the Department of Marked Emergencies — and soon they’re trailing a group of Markless fugitives who they think will lead them to answers about the mysterious disappearances of about-to-be-marked teens.
For a middle grade novel, this was alright. It was easy to read and the plot kept moving forward at a reasonable pace. Logan was a relatable main character, albeit a bit paranoid — while at the same time incredibly trusting of people, to the point of gullibility. The author succeeded in setting a vivid scene for the novel — you could easily place yourself in Logan’s city, and the new technological gadgets were fun to read about.
For a YA novel, however, it lacked depth and originality. The whole concept of an all-supreme government severely limiting freedoms and doing unjust things to its people to maintain order has been done time and again (most recently with The Hunger Games, Matched, and Divergent). Many of the characters were simply unrealistic and flat, and the attempt at a “love triangle” was just awkward and had no emotional depth to it at all. It’s also one of those novels where the kids are brilliant sleuths, but the adults are ignorant dolts whom the kids repeatedly hide things from because “they won’t believe us,” a middle grade/YA ploy that never fails to irritate me.
Overall: Could be a good “consolation prize” for those too young and impressionable to read “The Hunger Games,” but probably a little bland for most YA dystopian fans.