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The Never Tilting World #2

The Ever Cruel Kingdom

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After a treacherous journey and a life-shattering meeting with a twin neither knew they had, Haidee and Odessa expected to emerge from the Great Abyss to a world set right. But though the planet is turning once again, the creatures of the abyss will not rest until they have tasted another goddess’s sacrifice.

To break the cycle, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyond the seven gates of the underworld, within the Cruel Kingdom itself. The shadows of the underworld may hunger to tear them apart, but these two sisters are determined to heal their world—together.

480 pages, Hardcover

First published November 10, 2020

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Rin Chupeco

19 books5,187 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 225 reviews
Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
295 reviews1,476 followers
November 26, 2020
Is there a support group after reading this? I think I need one. I fucking LOVED THIS. I'm curious if there's ever going to be a spin-off series, because I can see a lot of potential for one!
Profile Image for Sahitya.
1,003 reviews200 followers
November 22, 2020
More of a 4.5 but I’m rounding up.

The Never Tilting World was a very unique kind of fantasy world that I read last year and really enjoyed, so I was very much looking forward to this sequel/finale. I was so glad to find the audiobook and I’m happy that this one turned out to be equally wonderful to listen to.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that it felt much more fast paced than its predecessor. Once I started, I really flew through it and the multiple narrators also made it a very enjoyable experience. The writing was very crisp too, with wonderful descriptions of the changing landscape due to the turning of the world, as well as the gruesomeness of the monsters whom the characters have to constantly fight. The fight sequences where every person with a power got to show their abilities were written excellently and despite multiple such scenes, each of them felt different in its own way. There weren’t many plot twists this time, and I loved that most of the story involved multiple groups of people who completely distrust or hate each other having to work together for the sake of the greater good. There was also a lot of analyzing clues from poems involved, which is always a cool concept and kinda fun.

It was actually nice to finally see all the characters come together in this one. Odessa and Haidee share an instant connection as soon as they meet, and I completely adored their absolute love and trust in each other. Despite dangerous circumstances and the possibility of them having to make sacrifices, they don’t shy away from wanting to be better than their mothers to resolve the issues with their world, and it was highly admirable. Lan and Arjun similarly turned out to be great partners, always supportive of the sisters but also bringing them back from the brink when something disastrous happened. I also liked that both of them formed their own kind of bond, owing to the similarities of their situations.

We finally get to know more of the backstory of Asteria and Latona, and how the Breaking happened and while it was easy to hate them in the first book, getting to know them better definitely elicited more sympathy from me. It’s a great story of how misunderstandings and maybe even jealousy can cause rifts between two people who love each other very much, and I was impressed with the contrast that the author was able to show between the relationships of the mothers vs that of their daughters. There were also many other side characters who got good arcs, and I particularly enjoyed the banter between Vanya and Lisette, and also loved seeing Sonfei back.

I still remember the author mentioning in their note in the first book that they decided to create this world which is always waylaid by natural disasters because Philippines is always suffering from the drastic effects of climate change, and Rin wanted to bring that helplessness that the residents have to deal with to life in this series. And expanding on that, they show us in this finale how those in power exploit the world’s natural resources, but when they realize that their actions are destroying the world itself, they decide to take an easy way out and sacrifice young women instead of doing the actual work to create more sustainable practices. This felt so much like what corporations and politicians are doing in our life, asking normal people to make everyday life changes instead of taking more substantial impactful measures at a larger scale.

In the end, this was a very fitting end to the story with everyone having to make their own kind of sacrifices to create a better world, and I think that’s a lesson everyone can remember. If you are interested in a fantasy which explores interesting familial relationships as well as a fascinating world which is an allegory to the ravages of climate change, then this is perfect for you. It is thought provoking as well as exciting, sometimes desperate but always with a light at the end of the tunnel - and so full of love.
Profile Image for Maëlys.
297 reviews270 followers
February 13, 2021
☆ 3.5 / 5 ☆

The Never Tilting World: 4 / 5

Rating this book was a little difficult because I had some conflicting feelings. I still absolutely love all of the characters and their relationships, the growth and complexities explored in this book were truly wonderful, but I felt like the plot let me down a little.

We pick right back up at the Great Abyss where Odess, Lan, Haidee, and Arjun are still fighting to get out alive. The twins are reunited, the world starts spinning again, and yet, it seems like a sacrifice is still needed. Haidee and Odessa are looking for answers while coming to terms with the lies they’ve been told all their lives, and Odessa is still plagued by the shadows of what she’s done. What they seek though is not within their grasp and they might have to explore the underworld itself to find a way to heal the world.

For some reason I just had a huge disconnect with the plot and I was pretty disinterested in a lot of the action, but I still loved the route it took and the ending? They’re pretty confusing feelings to have. Maybe it was because of the expectations I had more than anything else. I think the only concrete comparison I can make with the first one is that now all of the cast of characters is together so there isn’t as much contrast between storylines and differentiation between POVs like in the first one.

Now for the things I truly loved! I’m still so attached to these characters and their journey and growth in this book was simply amazing. Haidee and Odessa obviously have to come to terms with finding each other and with the revelations that came with that, but we also see a lot of Lan’s and Arjun’s own grief and healing. Haidee and Odessa’s bond was so wonderful to see, especially with how unconditionally they love each other despite the world wanting to pit them against one another. Coming together despite circumstances, sisterhood, and motherhood are so prevalent here especially with Asteria’s and Latona’s arcs. The approach Rin Chupeco chose for them was honestly so well handled and brought so much depth to their characters. In some way it’s always a question of choice, of trying to make the best one in impossible circumstances, of not having it, and of taking back the agency of having one. But the most powerful choice any of them can make is to love each other.

I was very intrigued by all the new things we learnt about the goddesses and the lore that came with that and I still loved the world building in this. There’s definitely still an emphasis on climate change and how humans and their choices impact their environment, and how quick fixes are favoured over sustainable solutions. With Aeon spinning again it offers a different take from the stark contrast between the Golden City and Aranth while still showing extreme weather conditions. For some reason it also really got to me when our characters get to witness a sunset for the first time in their lives, it truly made me a little emotional!!

Overall I still really enjoyed this book but not quite as much as the first one. I think Rin Chupeco crafted an incredible world with this duology and character relationships that will stay close to my heart.

Profile Image for Althea.
417 reviews134 followers
June 6, 2021
Do I think that this duology could have been made into a standalone book? Yes. Did I still really love the character development, the use of tropes and did the ending make me cry? Also yes! Possible RTC?

Want more sapphic books? You can find me here: Book Blog | Twitter | Instagram

Profile Image for Kelly.
1,309 reviews503 followers
November 26, 2020
I'm glad I finished this duology but even though I rated the first book 4 stars, this series is more of a 3 stars for me. I still believe the best parts were the characters and romance. In this one, I was hoping that I would understand the world/plot better but I was still a little unclear of what was going on and why sometimes. However, I really liked the ending as it wasn't perfect for the characters but they did the best that they could.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,354 reviews175 followers
July 11, 2021
This ending. I am just... I cried when it ended. Rin always nails endings. Bittersweet in the best way possible. I have too many feels.

The Ever Cruel Kingdom picks up right where the previous book leaves off. Haidee, Odessa and company are transported to outside the Golden City with the portal in Brighthenge. The twins expect to see the world righted now that it's turning again, but things seem even more dire. The creatures from the abyss will keep coming until the sacrifice is completed. The twins will have to descend to the underworld to find the answers.

This was wild. I loved the addition of Lisette and seeing more of the tribes that live outside the Golden City. I loved seeing Haidee and Odessa work together and getting a chance to deepen their sibling bond. I loved how they constantly finished each others sentences and could enhance the other's magic. I just freaking love these two SO DAMN MUCH.

The mythology that we see in the first book is really delved into with this installment. We see what the twin goddesses are meant to do and what happened to the first twins. Overall, this duology is amazing and I CANNOT recommend it enough.

Rep: Chronically ill sapphic MC, Asian coded sapphic (lesbian coded) MC suffering from PTSD, disabled POC MC that is missing one of his hands. Main side character introduced is bisexual. I believe most the characters are POC but I'm not 100% certain.

CWs: Violence, blood, animal death, cannibalism, death, death of parent, gaslighting, emotional abuse, grief, sexual content, mental illness (PTSD), murder.
Profile Image for dezzy.
160 reviews
December 22, 2020
3 stars.

Ahhhh I actually feel so conflicted about this book :') I'm feeling so many emotions yet nothing (+ confusion) at the same time lolol

Okay firstly, I definitely enjoyed the characters + character development, as well as all the complex relationships in this book. All of the characters were all so well-developed and messy and HUMAN and you can't help but love them for it <3 I could really feel the unconditional love the characters have for each other 😭 I appreciated the nuance and consideration that went into showing the true complexity of all sorts of relationships present in this book - mother/daughter, sister, platonic, and romantic. The sisterly relationship between Haidee & Odessa, as well as their mothers, really did hit me hard, especially near the end :')

Speaking of characters, though, The Ever Cruel Kingdom was told from 4 POVs and I honestly got SO confused. And I'm not sure why, because the first book (The Never Tilting World) was also told from the same 4 POVs and that wasn't a problem for me then, but in this book, it was a huge issue lmao :') like I genuinely would not know who was narrating the chapter and would have to check the chapter title like 293843 times throughout the course of me reading the chapter lolol 🤧 It got to the point where in a certain scene, I thought I was reading from Odessa's perspective the entire time and then the narrator went to kiss Haidee's love interest and *that* was when I realized it was actually from Haidee's perspective aslkdjflskdj lmao,, the struggle is real.

For most of the book, I was also really confused at the storyline, world-building and plot. It might just be due to my lack of brain cells at this point of the year LOL, but I actually could not follow where the plot was going and why the characters were doing certain things to save Aeon or whatever, like I was honestly just skimming through the plot points and reading this book just for the characters oops. (.....yes confusion was definitely one of my more prominent moods while reading this book. i'm pretty sure that's a me problem though, and not entirely the book's fault! i think i'm just not in the best headspace to consume high fantasy rn)

Overall, I did enjoy the first book of this duology more! But as for this book, I still love the characters and the way they would do absolutely anything for each other (even though that did break my heart at times). And although I did get really confused at the plot, I'm still in awe at how much thought Rin Chuepco put into developing this book's world and setting - it's truly fascinating and intriguing and I was very captivated by it! I'd definitely recommend this book (& series) for its three-dimensional characters and wonderfully developed relationships :)
Profile Image for Aly.
2,461 reviews
November 20, 2020
Nice ending to the duology.

I really enjoyed the world development in these books. It has plenty of details but not overboard and what we learn about the universe unfolds in a realistic way. The history of twin goddesses reminded me a bit of Three Dark Crowns but it was different enough to be it's own thing. Haidee and Odessa connect immediately now that they've found each other and I liked their twin connection of communicating without speaking. They have come from different backgrounds but have so much in common and I love a good sibling bond.

The romance is really sweet in this, we see Odessa and Lan get closer now that Odessa isn't going crazy from power any more. Lan is so protective of Odessa and they build up a cute relationship. Haidee and Arjun are my favorite, their love is so strong and they would literally die for each other.

Some parts of the story I was confused about, I struggled to keep the queens straight and I'm still not sure which of them was the birth mom to the twins. I also thought the ending was kind of sad and I must have missed the part the explained why it had to be the way it was.
This was entertaining and had some really cool mythology, fun characters, and a fun world.
Profile Image for Lance.
448 reviews137 followers
January 16, 2021
"A half-life is better than no life at all."

"There is always another choice. Because if you weren’t given a choice that you could live with, then you had to decide on the choice they would never allow you to make.”

4 stars. Rin Chupeco does it again with The Ever Cruel Kingdom: Chupeco delivers a solid finale to a duology that is wholly unique and compelling all at once. Here's the thing: y'all are sleeping on this duology so hard. It's always a shock to me when I think about the fact that these books aren't more popular, especially considering how much they offer a reader of not just YA fantasy, but fantasy in general. These books contain multi-layered magic systems, intricate character work, and themes of climate change all with characters of diverse backgrounds at the forefront of the story. What's not to love?

Speaking of that, Rin Chupeco's prose is among my favorite in YA. In all honesty, the quotes I picked from above do a disservice to the skill displayed in their writing. Chupeco strikes that balance between dark and poetic that I love reading, particularly with anything in fantasy. I find that in the world of Aeon that this book is set in, this type of writing shines. There's something about it that so wholly befits the aesthetic: a world with as much natural beauty as monsters carrying lapis lazuli, the way Chupeco employs their prose to properly display this unique world in all of its breathtaking gorgeousness and its rotten ugliness is worthy of applause. Especially with Aeon's aesthetic of a world split in two wholly different climates, it takes an incredibly skilled writer to properly depict and explore it. Overall, I love Chupeco's writing so this was no surprise.

Character work. This is a character driven story, so its no surprise that the character work remains top-notch. Chupeco, as in last book, is able to effectively juggle four first person perspectives with their own character arcs and unique voices within a 400 page conclusion that not only develops upon already existing elements, but brings in new ones to add further nuance to the story. Haidee, Odessa, Lan, and Arjun are already well-rounded characters by the end of the previous book with their own character arcs but this book tests them in ways that are unexpected and harrowing. To put it succinctly, the character work for all four of them is superb. By the end of the novel, the four of them have developed in ways that are subtle and ways that are incredibly obvious.

Now for the actual spoiler-filled plot elements. One of the things I loved about this conclusion is the inclusion of new characters, including Another thing which I saw coming but really enjoyed thematically was Finally, I absolutely loved The fact that the sisters have to split their time as watchers of the Ever Cruel Kingdom below and the Aeon above ensures that the ending isn't all happy ending but remains thematically resonant without killing off one of the MC's for shock value and cheap emotional distress.

Conclusively, all of you. Stop sleeping on this duology. And Rin Chupeco in general. They are an absolute treasure to have in the YA fantasy genre and I will advocate for their books as much as I can, especially as a fellow Filipino. Go pick this duology and their books, I promise you will not regret it.
Profile Image for Travis.
695 reviews7 followers
May 26, 2021
The Ever Cruel Kingdom delivered a very satisfying conclusion to this duology. I however still liked book one just a tad better. That is not to say this book was bad but it did drag for me in some areas while still entertaining me.

I don't have much more to add to this review that I didn't already say in my review for book one. Everything that I loved and adored in book one was very present throughout this book, whether that be the world or the characters or even the plot. What I will say here is my one critique, and that is the story kind of dragged like I said. This story though still had me completely in its hooks.

I am such a Rin Chupeco fan at this point. Seriously all the books I have read by them have left a very lasting mark on my reader heart. I am so eager to pick up any and every book they plan on releasing.

The Never Tilting World - 4/5

The Ever Cruel Kingdom - 4/5

The Never Tilting World Duology - 8/10
Profile Image for G Daniels.
249 reviews5 followers
November 29, 2020
I loved the The Never Tilting World duology by Rin Chupeco. This is not unusual since I am a big fan of Ms. Chupeco. Before I tell you about this duology, let us first review the rules:

Rule #1: No telling them they have an ugly baby. The writer put themselves into the story; they put a lot of work into it and truly believe in it and its merits. Who am I to tell them they created an ugly baby? So even if I am disappointed in it, I will not be cruel and a hater, but will be honest without being mean. On the reverse side, it has to be REALLY AWESOME to earn a 5-star rating. Don’t want to cheapen the rating system by giving out too many 5-star ratings; they have to be earned by golly!
Rule #2: No spoilers! You would not want me in a theater telling you what was going to happen next or expose a pivotal point before you get to experience it for yourself, so why would it be okay to tell you an important part of the story and ruin it for you? Not cool and won't happen.
Rule #3: If it is a series, I will review the entire series instead of each individual book. I may state that one book or part of the story arc is better than another, or that it started off slow and picked up or the reverse, but will review the whole instead of each separate part. This is partly due to my own laziness, but also to provide my opinion on the entire story. Using the movie metaphor again, you wouldn't review half a movie and then come back and review the second half separately, that would be silly. I will review the entire story, regardless if it is a duology, trilogy, or more.
Rule #4: and most importantly, take my review with a grain of salt. Read the story for yourself and make your own decisions. I am only giving my opinion and I may not be as impressed with it as you or you may think I am totally out of my mind and wonder if I read the same story as you. You always have the right to ignore what I write or disagree with me.

Intro: My unabashed bias towards Ms. Chupeco
I will admit right up front I am a huge fan of Ms. Chupeco. I would not only read her grocery list if she published it, but would pre-order it and count the days until it was released. She is one of my favorite contemporary writers along with Bracken, Garber, Blake and White to name a few. But even with that confession, I will do my best to be objective in my review.

The Premise:
The story is about a pair of twin goddesses, Haidee and Odessa who must save their planet Aeon after it has quit spinning causing one side of the planet to be in perpetual darkness and cold where the other half is in eternal light and heat.
In each generation there is a set of twin goddesses born, one grows up to rule over the land where the other is sacrificed. Approximately seventeen years prior, the mothers of the twins, Litonia and Asteria, twin goddesses themselves, made a mistake during the ritual and the world stopped spinning and a great abyss was created splitting the world in two, one side in eternal darkness and cold, the other in constant light and heat.
Haidee grew up on the light side along with her mother Litonia, where Odessa lived on the dark side with her mother Asteria. Neither twin knew the other existed and thought their aunt had been the one to perish in the Great Abyss during the ritual. It is confusing how a set of twins can have separate mothers, even if the mothers were twins themselves, but this is explained in the second book, The Ever Cruel Kingdom. Though I admit it really confounded me in the first book how this was possible, even if they ARE goddesses. When reading this, just be patient and accept it, it is explained eventually and makes sense.
In the first book, The Never Tilting World, Haidee and Odessa set off from their respective cities to journey to the Abyss to try to fix the world. Haidee is accompanied on her journey by a desert rat known as Arjun who upon first meeting the goddess desired to kill her, but ultimately joins her on her quest. Odessa is accompanied by her bodyguard/ lover Tianlan, and a group of her mothers’ Devoted and their servants. Devoted are kind of the upper class who possess elemental magical powers or “gates”. Tianlan, or “Lan”, had been to the Abyss prior with her squad of guards but of the half dozen that ventured there, she was the only one to survive and return, leaving her mentally scarred.
Keep in mind, Odessa and Haidee, nor anybody in their respective parties is aware the other exists, both sides believe theirs is the only side that sustained life after the great split. So the story describes the journey the two teams make to reach the Abyss and all the trials and hardships they had to overcome including monsters, deception, cannibals and the harsh elements. At the end both sides reach the Abyss and the twins, to their utter amazement, meet.
The second book, The Ever Cruel Kingdom picks up where The Never Tilting World Ends with the twins meeting and as they believe, fixing the world again. They all end up back in Haidee’s and Arjun’s stomping grounds. Though the world seems to be turning again and there is once again night and day, there is still something wrong for shadow monsters are surging from the Abyss and attacking. A bunch of the other tribes of desert nomads join Arjun’s tribe to fight off these creatures who keep coming in bigger and bigger waves. Soon Asteria turns up with her Devoted to this area and a new conflict arises due to there not being a whole lot of love lost between Asteria and Litonia. Add to this Haidee and Odessa are not exactly pleased with their respective mothers for not telling them that their aunt and twin were actually still alive and the familial tension is so thick it can be cut with a knife. So there is a lot of conflict in the second book between the different factions not trusting each other, the internal bickering of the Goddesses, (all four of them, mothers and daughters), and trying to figure out how to stop the shadow creatures that are coming from the Abyss in greater and greater numbers. They discover the problem stems from a poor choice the original goddess made affecting her sister which has caused the cycle requiring the sacrifice of one of the twins of goddesses born in each generation. To finally break this cycle and put the world to rights once and for all, the four goddesses along with a hand-picked crew return to the Abyss to correct the original problem. You can figure out on your own how that goes, though it is a fascinating journey from beginning to end, the solution is bittersweet and somewhat familiar.

Things to Note:
Rin Chupeco, if you are familiar with her work you know, does not follow a simple chronological narrative but chooses different styles to tell the story. In the Bone Witch series for example, she flips back and forth in subsequent chapters from the present to the past telling two distinct, but related, stories. One that is occurring in the present while the other is the past that is the cause of the present situation. To read it with a minimum of confusion, every other chapter should be read; either read all the odd chapters together and then read the even chapters or vica-versa. She aids this process by one sub-story is set in italics while the other sub-story is set in regular type. I only explain this because if you haven’t read the Bone Witch series yet, I highly recommend it but want to warn you how to read it for the best comprehension and appreciation.
I only bring this up, not only to shamelessly promote the Bone Witch series, but to illustrate how Ms. Chupeco does not follow regular narratives.
In The Never Tilting World series she utilizes POV from the characters, mainly the four major players, Haidee, Odessa, Lan and Arjun to tell the story. Some readers, in their reviews, have commented their displeasure with this style mainly because the POV is identical and lacks individual personality. This is a legitimate complaint in that I found I would sometimes have to flip back and see whose POV was being utilized since they used the first person but I wasn’t always sure who the “I” was. This was especially true in the second book when all four were interacting with each other so there were times where Arjun may be talking to Lan or Odessa may be talking with Arjun, etc. So unless close attention was paid in the title of the chapter, whose POV was being utilized was not always clear. I do not know why Ms. Chupeco chose to utilize POV in this narrative or why she determined to use four separate POV, but there was no distinction between the POV’s and could have been told just as easily as a third person narrative or just two POV’s, say maybe the twins. But this is a minor distraction that can be easily forgiven considering how good the story is.
Also, as usual there are numerous characters, even numerous minor characters can play a significant part. Keeping track of who they are and their origins can be confusing. If a name turns up in a second scenario, it may be a good idea to take a note of them for they will probably turn up later in the story and have a significant impact on the story.
There are quite a few twists that are unexpected and quite jaw dropping, especially towards the end of the second book. She keeps the story interesting and engaging throughout.

This story appears familiar but still strangely different. It seemed like it should be familiar, like the story is similar to stories that have been related before in mythology, but no, it is unique. It is like having a word at the tip of your tongue, you KNOW what it is, you just can’t recall it. This was a story like that. Progressing through this story it appears that it should be familiar that you feel you are familiar with it until you get into it and you find it is not quite what you remember. There is always a niggling familiarity of the story though it is not the story you remember. The best I can relate it to is the Greek mythology of the rape of Persephone crossed with the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake with a pinch of Dante’s Inferno. There are some minor similarities but this duology is still unique and a mythology of its own, it just felt so familiar all the same. Not to say there were not some surprises and the characters weren’t always what they seemed. Some thought to be allies were enemies, enemies turned out to be allies and those that were thought to be good could actually be evil and those thought to be evil turned out to be true. All I can say is Ms. Chupeco created an excellent modern day mythology here and I would highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Azrah.
212 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2021
[This full review can also be found on my BLOG]

**I was gifted a copy of this book for a blog tour with Pride Book Tours in exchange for an honest review**

CW: trauma, grief, death, self-harm, cannibalism

If you love your adventure quest stories, intricate magic systems, puzzling prophecies and sisterhood/found family themes then you should definitely check this series out!

The Ever Cruel Kingdom kicks off exactly where the events of The Never Tilting World left off with just as much adventure and high stakes – I was hooked until the very end.

The sequel definitely has a bigger familial aspect, which I think Chupeco really excels at in their books. The sisterhood between Haidee and Odessa was beautifully written – I loved their moments together in the story so much. Though their individual personalities continued to shine through just as much as their bond!
The various other relationships within the story – both romantic and platonic – were fantastic too and I loved how the direction of the story allowed them all to be explored.

The captivating world building and element based magic system were both expanded further in this sequel, the latter particularly when it came to the fight/battle scenes which were amazing!
I also personally love it when fantasy books have moments where science and magic work together so I absolutely loved it when Haidee’s mechanika side came out!

I will admit that I enjoyed this one a little less than book 1 and have knocked off half a star because though I enjoyed the individuality of the 4 person PoV, with the characters all being in one place for the most part of the book it did feel a little overcrowded at times.
Also prophecy stories can be a little tricky and some parts of the book felt a little rushed however, the overall plot and reveals allowed the story to wrap up perfectly.

A big thing that needs to be commended about this series though are the commentary on climate change as well the discussions and representation of mental health/grief and trauma.

It’s a story as emotionally packed as it is action packed and I can’t recommend it enough.
Final Rating - 3.5/5 Stars
Profile Image for Melanie.
939 reviews18 followers
July 19, 2021
I liked this one quite a lot but didn't love it. I didn't think it was as good as the first one in the series. There were some parts I really enjoyed (the world building is still absolutely stellar), but I wasn't a huge fan of what went on with some of the characters. I also felt the ending wrapped things up a little too neatly, which is one of my pet peeves with books.

Content Warnings
Graphic: Death, Death of parent, and Panic attacks/disorders
Moderate: Grief, Violence, Gore, and Suicidal thoughts
Minor: Sexual content and Cannibalism
Profile Image for Donna.
195 reviews36 followers
August 23, 2021

This was such a fantastic conclusion to this duology! The plot twists! The reveals! The character arcs! THE BLOODY ROMANCE!!!
I loved this one to bits 😭😭😭
Profile Image for Lake.
304 reviews30 followers
January 29, 2021
A satisfying follow up to Never Tilting World, but this time I found the 4 POVs were not unique enough for me to keep track of whose I was reading without referring back to the chapter title. It works fine in the first book because the characters are all in drastically different physical settings and it was easy to take cues from that, but now when they are all together it highlights the similarities in their voices even though by book 2 they should be more distinctive. But I do like watching them all interact and the different relationships at play here. Though I could have done without the many many romances between various characters holding up the plot. The sneaking off and returning with disordered clothes joke wears off quick and I got impatient for more (plot-related) action. I liked that the ending is not too neat and tidy, but not ambiguous either, a flawed solution to a flawed world - though I'm not completely sure why it was necessary. I'm rather forgiving of these shortcomings because I like Rin Chupeco's writing overall but as always your mileage may vary.
Profile Image for Rajasree Jayaram.
336 reviews
November 16, 2020
I'm glad this is a duology because I don't have the stamina for longer series anymore. Excellent worldbuilding, diverse and three-dimensional characters, interesting mythology except for one fact . I was a little surprised to find that the story's underlying message is environmental conservation. I was worried about the prophecy that said Arjun had to die, but I liked how that was handled. Shout out to those amazing covers - such a treat, I would buy hard copies for the sole pleasure of gazing at that art. An excellent duology, and recommeded for all YA fantasy lovers.
Profile Image for rain.
599 reviews335 followers
December 25, 2020

once again rin chupeco shows their prowess with world-building in this duology. i also appreciate the climate change commentary so much. im proud of how the characters here worked through their problems together plus i especially love odessa and heidi's sibling bond. i also enjoyed arjun and lan's interactions here!!! they're so whipped for the twins and it was so adorable watching them protect heidi and odessa while also giving them a lot of space to grow and learn their strengths together.

once again im sad that this duology has come to an end but rin chupeco tied things up nicely so i was still satisfied by the end of it. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SERIES FOR LOVERS OF FANTASY!
41 reviews8 followers
May 2, 2021
I enjoyed the first book so I was really expecting to like this one as well. Unfortunately it dragged a lot. And the characters lack a distinct voice so I had to keep flicking back to the beginning of each chapter to check the POV.
Profile Image for trishla ⚡ | YourLocalBookReader.
245 reviews31 followers
June 7, 2021
4 stars

cw // blood, demons, gore, death, depression, grief, PTSD, panic attacks

rep // f/f. bi, ace, Asian MC

"Because if you weren’t given a choice that you could live with, then you had to decide on the choice they would never allow you to make."

I'm only sad writing this because I know I'll be saying goodbye to this world at the end of it. These are some of the most fleshed out characters I've read in a LONG time. The family demographic, both found and biological is a nice touch that I don't see too often anymore. The talks of grief, PTSD and how the characters heal from it are very realistic and done with empathy.

As for the story, it picks up right after the first one, and we see the twins acost their respective mothers who are just as shocked to find out the other is alive. We see them go through the stages of healing wounds 20 years old, to becoming a family again. Arjun and Lan are both so in love as well. I love a good enemies to lovers romance, but it was nice to see what a healthy, kind relationship looks like from time to time.

The writing was very descriptive too, with wonderful descriptions of the changing landscape due to the turning of the world, as well as the gruesomeness of the monsters whom the characters have to constantly fight. The fight sequences where every person with a power got to show their abilities were written excellently and despite multiple such scenes, each of them felt different in its own way. There weren’t many plot twists this time, and I loved that most of the story involved multiple groups of people who completely distrust or hate each other having to work together for the sake of the greater good. There was also a lot of analyzing clues from poems involved, which is always a cool concept and kinda fun.

The ending was incredibly bittersweet. I felt like it was very fitting for the duology. There was never going to be a traditional "happy ending" because the world demanded more from the goddesses but to see them and their partners working together to make the best of it was beautiful. This duology had everything I was looking for in a fantasy read, and I'm so glad I picked it up!!

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Profile Image for kelsey.
277 reviews17 followers
August 21, 2021
this sequel picks up right after the end of the first book. the world is turning now, and the characters must face the consequences of their attempt to fix the Breaking. namely, the galla, a giant demoness, and the older goddesses’ ire.

i was so happy to be back with these characters. i really love arjun, haidee, odessa, and lan and it was nice to be back in their heads again. rin chupeco does a wonderful job conveying all their complex emotions around each other, the older goddesses, and the sacrifices that must come with maintaining a world. they weave the action and the emotional moments together so well, and i appreciate the different relationships the characters have with grief.

at times i felt it was leaning too much into romance (even i can’t believe i, lover of genre fiction with romance, am saying that, but sometimes it felt too cheesy for what was happening at the moment) and the pov characters often felt arbitrary-sometimes i wouldn’t understand why, say, lan was chosen to be the pov character for the chapter that spent a good chunk of time narrating what haidee was doing. but these seem more like quibbles in comparison to everything i liked about the book.

the climax this this time around was much better than in the previous book. it matched the time and energy the characters spent getting to that point and, probably because it’s the final book, resonated emotionally much stronger than the first book.

i just really love this series; the characters, the themes of love, sacrifice, grief, guilt, and the obvious but not overbearing parallel to our real world’s climate crisis. i definitely plan to read more of rin chupeco’s work in the future.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn.
164 reviews6 followers
November 22, 2022
I have mixed feelings about this one. I feel like I should've liked it more than I did - it had decent characters, well-developed relationships, a decent ending - but something about the plot just didn't draw me in fully. Personally, the four perspectives didn't really do it for me, and, especially with four different narrators for the audiobook, I think one would have been a better choice for a more cohesive feel.

If you like epic adventures full of magic, demons, sand dunes, romance (including a sapphic relationship), and much more, this could be the book for you (but definitely read the 'The Never Tilting World' first as this book picks up literally right where it left off).
Profile Image for Andi.
271 reviews8 followers
July 25, 2022
Book 2/2 in the YA fantasy Never Tilting World duology by Rin Chupeco - just as frustrating and poorly done as book 1, if not a bit worse because of how much time it spends trying to justify the meandering and randomness in book 1. 1.5/2

Trigger warnings for suicide ideation and depictions of severe mental illness.

The only real reason I picked up this book after how much I didn't enjoy book 1 was because book 1 failed to tell any kind of a cohesive story on its own, and I wanted to see if there would be one by the end of book 2. I think Chupeco got kind of lost in their own plot and their own lore, and the final solution ended up not being built up to in an emotionally satisfying way, while all our main POVs got off scot-free without much character development of their own that they needed to do, with everything happening in the middle of the book feeling like fluff and melodrama to fill the page count. I was overall really frustrated and disappointed.

From now on, every time I read a book or series where the author wants to turn any and every kind of plot into an "issue" plot or a social justice plot that's hamfisted for brownie points, I'm going to paste in this quote by Sir Terry Pratchett himself to remind myself to never write like this:

"Let’s start with the fact that I would not be a good author if I sat down and said ‘right, I’m going to explore the issue of [fill in issue of the moment].' This stuff evolves from the characters. It has to."

I think this could be the number-one problem plaguing YA fantasy today, besides underwater standards for things like prose and pacing and plotting. The Ever Cruel Kingdom makes the clear decision to become a story about generational trauma and mental illness without these plots arising naturally from the characters, when they easily COULD HAVE done so because of what the characters go through - but Chupeco forces the issues and makes the conversations the characters have about these things Twitter-perfect as usual. You don't get a gold star just for including a social hot topic in your book and presenting it in the least problematic way possible.

Chupeco's characters aren't compelling, aren't written in an emotionally recognizable or relatable way and are instead incredibly paint-by-numbers and predictable, the sisters don't have believable relationships with their "mothers" and Chupeco has little to no curiosity about the struggles in these relationships beyond what is obvious and surface-level, the romantic relationships are all out of steam except for the question "when are they gonna have sex??" and the writing is just generally uninterested in telling a story. It wants to show us what a movie about the story could look like, and that's the best I can say about the writing.

The characters not only know that they're in a fantasy novel, they know they're in a YA fantasy novel. They know that there's something wrong with the world even though it's finally turning, they know it's turning at all, they know they're the chosen ones, they know they can save the world. It lacks immersion, tension, and interest.

I liked some of the side characters in book 1, but I lost all interest in them once we started getting jerked around from location to location and met them all in quick succession without any of them having believable, meaningful relationships with any of the main characters. I was most amused by Vanya and his new girlfriend because they have a relationship archetype that I think is really funny, but that was pretty much it. (Also, why does Vanya have a Slavic woman's name, and why did the audiobook narrators consistently mispronounce it and all of the other Slavic names in the book? Ugh it was grating.)

Most of the story is our main characters chasing after random magical objects that meant nothing to me and fighting hordes of galla demons. There are no true character arcs, no moments of true inner struggle, no unexpected decisions made, no twists, nothing. We're told in plain, bland prose what everyone is thinking and feeling at all times. Of course the mothers sacrifice themselves for their daughters. Of course Samfir dies for his longlost love (why did the narrators change from him having an Arabic accent in book 1 to a Russian accent in book 2?? it was so weird). Of course the sisters and their SO's constantly, CONSTANTLY refuse to let one sacrifice themselves for anyone else and offer to go in their places and UGH these inane, melodramatic arguments took up half the dialogue in this ridiculous book, I swear. Every character had to be so perfect and unproblematic, including even Odessa who was at least turning into a demon in book 1, that no one could make any kind of a decision. There were no redeeming qualities about this plot or the writing for me.

Lol at Arjun always being "rough" and "growling." I still think this could have been one of the funniest duologies ever if he was the only POV and making commentary at all the ridiculous YA fantasy things happening around him.

Most of the author's fascination with the worldbuilding in book 1 is left behind in book 2. While I didn't like how surface-level that worldbuilding was, it was at least something that wasn't esoteric lore infodumping, characters being omnipotent for no reason, or silly, uninteresting banter, which takes up most of book 2.

There were moments where I could tell Chupeco took a second look at their worldbuilding from book 1 and realized that too many things had gone unaddressed or were simply handwaved too easily, and they take time every now and then to shore up book 1's decisions. The well is already poisoned and the narrative isn't interested in engaging with the worldbuilding in any kind of pivotal or plot-important way, so it really doesn't matter in the end, and only shows just how little thought Chupeco put into writing these books in the first place.

While I had hopes that these books would be a diamond in the rough, they turned out to be everything I hate about YA fantasy. If you're curious about the bonkers conglomeration of fantasy media, give the duology a try, but otherwise, I really can't recommend these books.
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