[I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.]
Usually, the second book in a series tends to be the one I find weaker, but here, I actually liked it a little more than the first one. Back then, the whole competition thing, while good at first, got quickly repetitive. Here, while the characters also go through some repeated motions (get to first mine, mine nyxia, get to second mine, etc.), there were enough plot-related events to keep me interested. All in all, I wanted to learn more about the Adamites, their society, and Babel’s goals, and at least we indeed get more here. The Adamites are their own brand of shady with their own agenda, and while it’s justified considering what’s at stake
Another peeve with book one, a.k.a. how nyxia explains everything, wasn’t present here, so this helped, too. The kids do use it to shape weapons, shields, items, etc., but this is something I expected, and more credible than nyxia allowing fast space travel for… reasons? We get a few more explanations about where nyxia comes from. I hope that book three will yield more information still.
I still find the romance part kind of bleh, in part because it has the potential to devolve into a trope I don’t like, that of “will do anything for luuuurve” (Isadora and Morning are pretty open about how they’ll always choose the boy over the group; how much do we bet that one of them will betray the group first thing because Babel will dangle the boy’s survival in front of them?).
Also, maybe it’s just me, but Isadora’s attempt at using her pregnancy to gain favour is… I don’t know. It felt much more like using the future baby as a pawn, rather than at loving and wanting to protect him/her. I think this ties into how we don’t know that much about the characters themselves in general: we get that they’re all of “poor” and “broken” backgrounds, but apart from Emmett, we still don’t know what are their deep motivations. I’d care more about the whole Roathy/Isadora thing if they were something else than just antagonists. And the same goes for the diversity aspect, which is even less mentioned here than in the previous book.
Conclusion: Still some peeves with this novel, but a couple of others that weren’t so present this time. In general, I enjoyed it more.