I'm not quite sure much happens in this book that didn't already happen in the first book. Evil people are doing evil things, there...more2.5 Stars... again.
I'm not quite sure much happens in this book that didn't already happen in the first book. Evil people are doing evil things, there's a war raging, there are riots, the world is in shambles, and it's up to Nya to save the day... again. It bugs me a bit still that the people in this book are so black-and-white and one-dimensional. If you're bad, you're bad; if you're good, you're good.
And Nya seems to be the only one with a gray-area-of-morality compass that keeps getting questioned by herself and even her friends. And then we rehash the same dilemmas that I had thought Nya had already established a somewhat of a conclusion to already. Mainly, her use of her Shifting powers to heal and hurt others keeps being pinned by herself and her best friend as morally incorrect and disgusting.
And while I stand on the point that torture and violence and killing is an evil, when you are an high fantasy with worlds at war with one another, maybe violence ends up being a necessary evil. Because then, why is it okay for others to use weapons (swords, daggers, etc.) to hurt or kill others, but it's wrong of Nya to use her own resources to keep someone from killing her? A sword can kill just as easily as her shifting pain into someone else, however, with a sword, dead is dead. Apparently with shifted pain you still get a chance so long as you can find a Healer and a slab of pynvium to relieve that pain.
So you want Nya to heal people and do good, but you don't want to see her shifting that pain into someone else even if it will kill her if she keeps it for too long? The idea of shifting pain back and forth from one person to another's not so bad an idea though, since this action apparently leaves no lasting side-effects (how convenient).
Despite the fact that she hates seeing her own "healing" powers as a weapon of potential mass destruction, the fact is, she just needs to accept what she can do and use appropriately... as she has been doing continually. Which then makes me wonder what all the whining about her guilty conscience is about if she's just going to ignore it anyway, then wallow in self-pity. This world is on the brink of war and destruction and it seems everyone else will not stop to reconsidering chopping your head off, but you're going to hesitate to "shift" pain into someone else because it could kill them if they can't heal themselves first?
This is probably why children shouldn't be the world's one hope in bringing peace in the midst of bloody war. I'm not saying that children can't save the world given the right resources and determination; it just seems like a heck of a whole lot to put on a child's shoulders just because she seems to be different. Or, even if Nya is the singular hope of saving the world, she should at least have some handy friends and experienced war veterans or soldiers to help her out.
I'm not certain how I feel about how competent her friends and the adult rebels are in this book. And Nya, herself, is a full stewing pot of rash decisions and no planning ahead and eventually ends up causing more trouble than not. Then again, there was enough monotony in the narration that maybe I missed some significant and genius rebellion plot somewhere that didn't involve biding your time until you could publicly humiliate the great evil villain, The Duke, and make him concede his throne... because... then what?
Of course, despite the repetitiveness of this second book from the first book, and despite the flatness and one-dimensional-ness of all the characters, I guess I managed to enjoy reading the book just fine. I just wished there was more to it than such a simple, The Duke is evil because he's evil and needs to be defeated. Nya's friends and sister keep getting kidnapped and it's up to her to save all of them. Something always ends up blowing up and nearly killing everyone. The magical "technology" in this book keeps evolving with no indication of how anything works, and I'm still teetering about the magic system and the healing process that still makes little sense.
While a lot of backstory begins to unravel concerning Nya's family, still very little is known about her (or even her friends). And even less is known about the world and the three countries that are portrayed in this world. We barely glimpse the surface of the cultures in a vague attempt to illustrate a setting. More enchanters are introduced, but their significance dwindles just as quickly as they appeared--and so I have no idea what enchanters do and why they merit being labeled as such if all they'd been doing is melting pynvium and molding them into weapons.
Or did I miss something, somewhere?
Anyway, I'll be finishing this series if only to find out how the entire war turns out and what other troubles Nya manages to get herself into and how she'll finally save the world without getting kidnapped again.(less)
I'm not a fan of New Adult. And I've only gotten along with few Contemporaries. So this is a book that wouldn't have crossed my radar if not for th...moreO.o
I'm not a fan of New Adult. And I've only gotten along with few Contemporaries. So this is a book that wouldn't have crossed my radar if not for the name, Ann Aguirre...
...as well as the title of this book... all three books...
Because now I've got the darn song stuck in my head. And I'm curious about all three books if only because I used to be a huge Backstreet Boys fan when I was a teenager and boy bands were the new "It Thing" back when I first started high school.
More like a 2.5 Star read since it teeters very much in the "MEH" category. But I have to admit that once the show got going, I found enough enjoyment...moreMore like a 2.5 Star read since it teeters very much in the "MEH" category. But I have to admit that once the show got going, I found enough enjoyment in it to continue reading the rest of the series. At the very least, there's a sense of, "Hmm, what's next?" going on here.
The characters weren't relatable; the heroes were flat and unexciting and the villains were kind of comical (I kept envisioning a creepy looking dude with a curling mustache and twirling it while plotting to do evil). The world was developed decently, but not experienced very well; it all sounds well and good on paper, but kind of boring and flat in action. Worse yet was the Healing/Magic system, which I'll get into in detail later.
There's too much "black and white" in this story when a lot hinges on gray area concerning Nya, the heroine's own moral dilemma's concerning her powers. The people seem to be set in absolute categories: they're either good or bad, heroes or villains... well, all aside from one particular character, Jeatar. He's just confusing.
The Shifter had an extremely info-dump-ish and slow start. And yet at the same time, I'm still not sure I understand how the world of The Healing Wars or the magic system works. The healing skills were explained in a very tedious fashion without actually telling you how the whole process works. I mean, it took 75% of the book to acknowledge that pynvium cannot be reused--it becomes pretty much dead rock after it takes in pain and then is used as a weapon to inflict more pain. I spent a lot of time wondering why the healers don't just re-purchase used pynvium to continue unloading pain into; why pynvium was such an expensive, yet rare and valuable resource aside from the obvious.
And it took about 50% of the book for me to realize how the healing process MIGHT work, because I'm still not really certain I understand it correctly.
Takers are able to heal people by drawing the injured's pain into themselves. Following, they must endure said pain until they can dump that pain into pynvium. Sometimes they are just manifested as aches and sores; other times the pain is so excruciating that it could render a Healer immobile. Then there are Pain Merchants who draw pain into themselves without actually healing people sometimes if they can get away with it--take the pain and make the victims think they've been healed, but leave the injuries that will eventually kill that person... or heal on its own.
But where do the injuries go? The broken bones, the bruises, the bleeds, and the crushed organs? Do they just stitch themselves once the pain is gone? Does the healing process in one's body speed up once the pain has been drawn away? But we've already been told that drawing away pain doesn't mean a healed body. What strange magic is this, unexplained, that actually heals the wounded?
And then what's the point in having a distinction between Pain Merchants and actual League Healers? Don't they both do the same thing? Because I'd spent a good part of the book thinking that the "real" League Healers also drew the injuries and wounds into themselves as well, relieving victims of their hurts. That maybe the Healers just have a higher tolerance for healing their own bodies and just need to handle it until they can get back to their League home to dump the pain and injuries and wounds into that big pynvium Slab.
Except, apparently I thought wrong because the League Healers also only draw pain into themselves while healing their patients at the same time... and so that brings me back to... where do the wounds and injuries go? How does it get healed? And what's the point in Pain Merchants being utter assholes and only drawing away the pain, but leaving the wounds if it doesn't cost them anymore than drawing the pain away would?
See... I still don't quite understand how this whole deal works.
And don't even get me started on the plausibility of other magics being involved in this book. Nya makes infrequent, yet obviously significant mentions of her father as an enchanter who "tells the pynvium to absorb pain" or something like that, but that set of skills is never explored further aside from passing mentions in flashbacks. There's still a lot of development to be made concerning the magic system in this world that I'm still having a hard time trying to grasp.
Either things aren't making any sense or things aren't being presented properly. It's all so vague.
The whole book has its appeal since it does draw those lines between right and wrong using Nya's shifting powers as a base. There's an entire "How can Nya's powers be used for good if it really just causes more pain?" type of scenario. Nya is a Taker like all the rest of the Healers, but she is incapable of dumping her drawn-in pain into pynvium. Instead, she can only dump pain into another person... which defeats the whole purpose of being a Healer, because, apparently, in order to save one person, she'd have to kill someone else since apparently shifting pain has even more dire consequences.
So now Nya must continue to figure out her niche in life and how she can be a hero to her people (at the age of fifteen, yo) by using her special, yet deadly powers. She needs to make decisions and depend upon her moral compass to tell her what the lesser of two evils is and when it would actually be justifiable to use her powers. It's an interesting concept that I would like to explore more of.
Then I'm reminded that when Healers draw pain from the injured, they go and dump it into pynvium which then gets molded and formed into weapons and sold to people who are intent on war... It still comes full circle: Healing one person, in the end, comes back to hurting others. The pain just travels and never really goes away.
Which brings me back to: Where do the wounds and the injuries go? Because we've established that removing the pain doesn't necessarily make the injuries go away. How are people healed? Is it some other special skill or is it something that "just happens" when a Healer draws pain? I'm so confused. If the pain doesn't actually ever go away and circulates the world, how do the injuries and wounds that caused that pain in the first place just disappear?
And another thing that bothers me: The people in this world rely entirely too absolutely and heavily on Takers to heal all their injuries (broken bones to bruises) and only once throughout the entire book was the word "salve" used for some superficial scrapes and bruises. I'm not even sure there's any mention anywhere else about using more traditional or common means of treating injuries. Like how you can just wash and bandage up a cut and let your own body heal itself; or putting some soothing ointment (or salve) on scrapes and such and letting those injuries heal on their own.
I can understand going to extremes with the less accessible injuries such as internal bleeding, broken bones, and crushed organs. But those have proven to be quite the intense pain for even Healers to be able to handle. But then again, it seems like once they manage to deposit that pain somewhere else, their recovery time is almost immediate. I don't know, it all just feels too convenient for me.
It just would make more sense if the Healers also knew how to treat the wounded without relying completely on Takers relieving their patients of all their pain while healing them. I mean, as cliche as this sounds, sometimes enduring pain is how we learn to get stronger. Taking away all the pain as a means of healing would only make people weaker. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm hoping this issue will be addressed in the coming books.
Then again, that's because I still haven't quite comprehended the world and the magic system. Maybe things will make more sense as the series continues, but I have a feeling we'll just focus more on Nya's journey to finding herself while saving the world (at the age of fifteen, yo... and with friends). She's a smart girl, despite the whole, "act before you think" thing, so I'm still intrigued with her.
It's just that... The entire story also kind of reads like an overdone, rushed through hero versus evil villain plot. It's very straight forward, very simple, and everything just falls into place that's necessary for our hero to save the world without much backing to her own deductions on how the villains are planning things and making his moves. Everything is just entirely too convenient. There is no questioning of how our heroine knows all of these "facts" that she has deduced on her own without concrete evidence. She says it's happening this way, so it must obviously be right.
On top of that, I felt like there was a lot more "telling" in the narration rather than just letting the reader deduct their own opinions. Towards the end, the characters got pretty preachy to the point where I was wondering if the author didn't trust the readers to come up with their own opinions concerning the controversies and philosophies in the story. I felt like I was being told what I should be taking away from the story of The Shifter.
Nonetheless, I still managed to find enjoyment in this book and maybe that's all that matters.(less)