Little note. This is my first review in months. Feels good to be doing it again. I was reading this book while watching The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, and my thoughts were “What am I doing wasting my time watching that movie?” while I had about a half dozen other things on the go. I was just in such a depression I needed a break from reviewing. I’m going to be returning to book reviews, but I just got a full-time job and I have a lot less time on my hands than I used to, so I’m currently paused on movie reviews. One day I might return to them. For now I’m engrossed in books and a few TV shows and might start doing reviews on TV shows instead. I guess I just have some rethinking to do.
With that, here are my thoughts on the book I was reading during this depression, and whose rating is not unfairly influenced.
The sequel right after a quite epic but unconventional prison escape, Kenzie over the course of one night abandoned the principles she was taught her whole life, an exemplary form of Stockholm Syndrome mixed with a dose of reality. Now she and all the survivors of the escape that left several dead because of deadly freaky aliens are on an alien ship where they originated, and are trying to figure out their next move. What’s a good planet to hide out on? Kenzie’s mother is dead now but what about her father? She lost communication with him back on the prison, but now that she’s out and he could be accessible, would he be willing to hear her out? But their plans get jumbled when they realize the ship keeping them alive in outer space has a tracker bringing more aliens their way and they have to figure out a way to both destroy it and get somewhere safe. And what’s their backup plan when they land if they get captured? And how will Kenzie ever recover from her guilt? Of all she’s done over the years as an Omnistellar operative and for all who have died under her leadership?
My high hopes for this book came from its predecessor, which was for me a fun prison escape with a Money Heist (or La Casa De Papel) suspenseful standoff feel. I couldn’t wait to explore this world more now that they were off of Sanctuary. I was excited about the chases, and their planning for how they’d take down the establishment that tried to keep them contained. I truly don’t know why there aren’t more prison escape books out there. Yes, the setting is a little cramped when you tell a whole story in there, but its claustrophobia can really add to the tension when done right. And in a good prison escape story, I also equally anticipate post-breakout.
The sad thing is the anger of being locked up, the races away from the police, thoughts on the future…they are there, but so much of the book is spent with Kenzie moping about how every screwup, every wrinkle, every tragedy experienced so far has been her fault and all the more she could’ve done over the years as a soldier. While I can understand that survivor’s-guilt thought process, this thought keeps coming up again and again. Not only that, talk about doing the right thing and not killing guards who are out to try and capture or kill you comes off as cheesy and grounded in a teen’s book trope. And I found it flat-out strange how little it is discussed how in a world dominated by a corporation that has access to different planets and owns many of the markets throughout them, they would need to figure out a way to live their life carefully. Kenzie’s new superpowers, the fear of being a fugitive, a good antagonist to root against…So much of that is so conspicuously sidelined.
By the end of the book, I felt the characters didn’t do nearly enough, the world not nearly enough explored, without the formation of a good antagonist to be frightened of. It’s fast-paced and has some exploration and action, and I enjoyed the time on the Obsidian spaceship, but a lot of my admiration for this series evaporated with Containment. There’s one more book in the series, Salvation. And now it has a lot of responsibility to pick up the slack. I said after finishing the first book that this felt like a story and universe where a trilogy would be the right length to tell it. This sadly isn’t the first time I’ve had to eat those words.