I feel like it’s impossible to talk about these books without discussing the larger context of the whole series, so I’m gonna do quick thoughts for each individual books, but I’m gonna include a spoiler-free semi-series review here and a spoiler-ful discussion in my review of Book 3. Then I’ll do the same for Books 4-6.
Spoiler-Free Semi-Series Review of Books 1-3
If you haven’t read these yet, one important thing to know is that this series is one that you have to kind of commit to. There are a lot of things that seem a certain way in the first book, or that don’t entirely make sense, or that aren’t fully believable, but they end up being addressed or having explanations in later books.
I also felt that each book got a little bit better with more realism, nuance, and development among the characters and their emotions. For the first two, I kinda felt like maybe I was just too old for this series and have forgotten how it feels to be a teen because all the characters were just so DRAMATIC, and it drove me a little bit up the wall, even though it was probably realistic. (Side note: *SPOILER* I can only imagine how Castle must’ve felt having so many of his plans thrown into turmoil by the love lives of three overdramatic teenagers. *END SPOILER*) I also didn’t feel that invested in or connected to anyone at first; they kinda seemed like every other YA character with a tragic backstory that I’ve read about. But in the third book, the drama was somewhat reined in, what was there felt like it had more real emotion to it, and I really liked the characters, emotions, and relationships. Warner was intelligent and intense. Adam was passionate and temperamental. Juliette was fiery and strong-willed. Kenji was the comic relief but also the glue holding everyone together.
I will say though, the writing was very dramatic and over-the-top flowery. So dramatic that I could zone out for whole portions and not actually miss anything. But I recognize that that’s just a part of Juliette’s character and POV, and even that got slightly less dramatic, I think.
There were also some small discrepancies that I noticed throughout the series. Not full-blown plot holes, but things like Castle not having time to work one-on-one with Juliette, despite repeatedly saying how important her abilities were, but then having time to work one-on-one with *someone else* who’s abilities were, let’s be honest, far less useful.
Another thing I want to mention is that, even though the series does continue with three more books, I think you could stop after Book 3, as I believe was originally intended. The ending is abrupt, but it works well enough. Especially since Books 4-6 change everything so much that they almost feel like an entirely different series.
I’ve read the first three books twice, audiobook the second time. I enjoyed the narration by Kate Simses. She has a very young and soft-sounding voice (not in volume, but in way of speaking), though that might’ve been partially a choice for Juliette’s character. I would say her male voices were ok—not great, but not terrible. It became more noticeable in the third book that she wasn’t great at voice acting highly emotional dialogue (maybe it was just that she couldn’t do it when trying to do male voices), but she was good at changing her tone and inflection and way of speaking to suit the mood and emotion of the scene when doing narration. Normally I complain about dramatic narrators, but, in this case, her narration was perfect for the writing.
Overall, these books didn’t blow me away, but I enjoyed them and got more into them by the third book. They didn’t make me emotional in the way I thought they would from all the things I’d heard, and the dramatic writing/POV wasn’t quite to my taste, but they did have some great emotionally intense moments, some interesting characters, some touching relationships, and a great story.
Quick Thoughts on Book 1
Book 1 on its own didn’t impress me much. I didn’t feel much connection to the characters, nor did I feel like we got to know them well. Juliette and Adam both had some fire in them, though different temperaments, and Warner was an interesting villain, as mentally unhinged as he was. I actually kind of almost felt bad for him. The romance wasn’t entirely believable, but not entirely unbelievable either. The plot meandered with no clear goal. But again, it is a series that gets better over the next two books.
*I’ve read this book multiple times. This review was written after my 2nd read.*
Anyone who likes YA, dystopia, romance, superhuman abilities, dramatic writing, and twisty revelations.