After my less-than-impressed feelings about Sasha's point of view in MYSTIFY, MAYHEM was a fantastic reprieve, getting into Jake's head and finally seeing things from his brooding eyes. There's a genuine tone to his voice that I found absent in Sasha's, although it was there in Krystal's in MANIFEST. Jake's story evens the keel and shows that is was a particular voice, and not the author, that fed the lull of the second book.
There's a heavy message of bullying in MAYHEM that I couldn't help but relate to. Money and status aside, the people in power tend to favor the bullies, putting the burden of proof on the bullied, and that situation aggravated me to no end because it's true. I've been the victim of school and workplace bullying. The former is well behind me but the latter . . . while I've voiced my concerns, with supporting proof, my frustrated outbursts get chastised and I'm forced to put on a happy face and just deal with it. So I can totally relate to Jake when it comes to wanting to react. Why shouldn't he defend himself when others are bringing violence against him? Why should he get in trouble for it? Especially when there are others around to see not only the precursor to the event but who have bore witness to the years of suffering? Oh yeah. I can relate.
But Jake has to make a choice: does he succumb to the darkness and let the power that he so desperately wants take over him? Or does he fight for the light, and tuck it all back? I really liked seeing the push/pull going on in Jake's head. He's really conflicted and being in his point of view you're privy to every argument he gives himself, every decision he has to make, every psychotic teenage emotion he struggles with. And he does have some crazy ones. It doesn't help that he has an ancient being and a burgeoning power to deal with on top of puberty.
Another thing I really like about this series is that the relationships are real. His blooming one with Krystal and Sasha and Twan have an authenticity about them that I find missing in a lot of YA. In other books it's about love, love, love, love. But here, it's about a connection, having things in common and letting it grow of its own accord. There's nothing forced and nothing rings as inauthentic to me. It sits just right and I can't tout that more.
The darkness gets a face, so to speak, in MAYHEM and whatever is brewing is coming more and more to a head. Each book centers around each character dealing with this darkness in their own personal ways so while, to me anyway, it may seem that the resolution comes a little too quickly, it's all building up to a final showdown that'll be anything but. Each character needs to get over their specific hurdle and I'm glad I could be there to see Jake conquer his. I can't wait for the next installment.