Prodigy by Marie Lu

The second book, a sequel to Legend. It doesn’t start off as a great stand alone (it starts with them on the run, so you’ll want to understand who they’re running from and running toward), but it offers a solid conclusion. The conclusion marks a pivot–I can see a third book with a different mix of POV characters, though it doesn’t have to change.

The books kicks off with learning more about the Patriots, including meeting their leadership. The plan they present to Day and June is a YA level plot… which makes it rewarding when it’s later revealed that the Patriots, Republic, and Colonies are all more complicated than Day or June understand.

Tess really blossoms as a character and feel authentic. Day and June have a bout of trust issues–while it makes sense and doesn’t quite fall into the trap of being easily solved in one conversation–it still felt tropey as I read it.

The final sequence is movie ready action, requiring action movie like levels of disbelief. But it ends strong, with the characters changed and looking forward to much more adult and constrained responsibilities. (As I wrote this, I realized that their position at the end of this book isn’t dissimilar to Katniss and Peta the end of the Hunger Game’s first book.)

Anyway, I enjoyed it and it finished well. I’m ordering the next two books from the library.

Hurricane Fever by Tobias Buckell

We’re back with retired Caribbean Intelligence officer Prudence Jones, Roo to his friends.

The book is a fun continuation of Roo’s career–well, post career, as he’s retired from the agency. But his skills, contacts and tradecraft drag him back into the mix. An old friend dies, but an “on death” message directs him to a secret flash drive and a global conspiracy… that’s too well protected to identify after a brief review.

It’s a cool plot with great action scenes and chemistry between the leads. This could easily be a 21st century version of spycraft to rival James Bond for a more complicated world with a more underdog feel.

I’ll keep an eye out for further books in the series.

Shades of Grey by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge

I like this book, the sequel to Black and White, too… just not as much.

The focus of this book is much less on Jet and Iridium. The book still alternates between current action and flashbacks, but the flashbacks are not to young Jet and Iridium, but to their parents–and not just their parents, but the whole alpha-team of their parent’s day. It’s a good change for getting more world building and explanations into the story, but gives up the strong focus on Jet and Iridium that made the first book such a pleasure.

So the crisis Iridium triggered at the end of Black and White is the heart of “now”; dealing with it is exhausting, but Jet and Iridium grow and step into new leadership roles. It’s a fine “adulthood and accepting the burdens of responsibility” story, but it’s much shorter than the previous book. The alternate era story is interesting and good worldbuilding–it’s nice context for both books–but no character gets enough time to make them truly sing. (Luster is much better formed by the end of the flashbacks; his final “then” scene with Night does a great job of defining them both.)

I think this book was the end of their partnership in exploring this world. If they resumed, the story going forward would be significantly different due to Jet and Iridium’s new relationship and roles. Done well, I’d enjoy more stories.