I am trying so hard to like this series. Dark Inside
was three stars for me and I'm also giving this three stars even though it is a better book than the first. The way I feel about Roberts' series is similar to how I feel about Revis' Across the Universe
series. I like them well enough to be curious about what happens next, enough to search out the next book and hope I will like it more than I did the last one... but I do not care one teeny tiny bit for the characters. Where Revis' characters lack personality, Roberts' are too many.
It is rare to find a situation where five perspectives (four main ones) works and I do not think this is one of them. Even towards the end I was still getting mixed up between Mason and Michael - which I initially put down to them having the same first letter in their names - but then even Aries and Clementine. Names aside, I find them uninteresting and recognisable only by facts such as "she's the one trying to find her brother". It's a good job their names are written at the beginning of every chapter and that it's written in third person because it would be impossible to work out who was who from their "voices".
Though, like I said, Rage Within
is better than book one, largely because the four protagonists face bigger moral dilemmas and they are allowed to make crucial and shocking mistakes that get people killed. I'm weird, I know, but I like that things are not all nice and there are no "heroes" in this story. Also, I have to give Roberts major points for two twists she decided to throw in. I saw neither coming and, though clever readers might pick up on one of them, I doubt many people will get the biggie. Twists are good, even otherwise bad books deserve a little cheer for well-placed twists.
I like Ms Roberts' plots and twists and moral dilemmas a lot more than I like her characters, which is somewhat problematic. But I also dislike the lack of answers. I understand and appreciate the reasons why you don't want to give everything up at once, that would be silly. But... we're two books in now and I feel like I know nothing more about why the earthquakes happened and why people started randomly going crazy and killing others than I did when I read the blurb for book one. The action scenes are cool, but I think Rage Within
should have delivered more on the answers front. Let's hope they're seriously epic when we get them!
There is one more thing that stops me from giving these novels a higher rating and it's strange because it's at odds with other parts of the books. They sometimes seem juvenile in their handling of certain matters... which is weird when you think that the stories actually contain plenty of violence and scenes of torture. Very weird indeed. Or perhaps the word I'm looking for isn't juvenile but "cheesy", like when one of the girls - I forget which - is in a bad situation and she hears the voice of her mum speaking to her and she is able to overcome her immediate problems. That's a little Nicholas Sparks
Oh, and I think I'm a little morally incompatible with the characters at times, I don't understand their ways of thinking.
Like this:"Stealing from the dead! Clementine was horrified. She'd seen a hell of a lot of bad things over the past six weeks. She'd even done some of those unmentionables herself. But taking personal items from the dead... well, that seemed wrong on levels she couldn't even begin to imagine.
Clementine didn't think. The anger surged forth, forcing her into action. Raising her baseball bat, she charged."
Okay. So it's wrong to steal from the dead but perfectly fine to bash a living person's brains in with a baseball bat? Right. Also, get real. It's the end of the world, just be thankful you don't have to eat the dead... yet. Another issue of morality arises when Mason and Daniel are faced with some child Baggers (what they call the people who were affected by the earthquakes) and Mason is unsure whether he can harm them: "It was one thing to kill Baggers. But child Baggers?"
Let me ask you something. Could you harm this?
Only if you're a psycho, right? So how about this?
One would bloody well hope so. Sometimes children are monsters when the apocalypse comes and if you don't kill them they're going to eat or do something equally nefarious to you. When it's you or the evil freaky children there's no need to pretend to think about it, we won't judge you.
So whether this is a trilogy or a series or whatever, for now I am reading on. This is quite a big thing because I don't often carry on after three star books. I expect a really good ending. Or else.