The second installment of the blockbuster Lorien Legacies series is just a little tighter and more evenly paced than the first, making it is easy to read without feeling challenged in any way. There is plenty of action, lots of dialogue, and since the characters now have movie-star faces it is easy to visualise the scenes.
But it feels too perfect. Every time an inconsistency appears it is immediately explained into the context, as though one in the authorial team said 'ah, but what about...', and then the others brainstormed until they came up with the most credible answer. Everything is fixed - at least on the surface - too conveniently, and this dampens the quality of the storytelling. It's a bit like fast food: you eat it up quickly but might regret the stomach ache later.
The romance is similar to Number Four: again not as omni-present as it is in Twilight but just as superficial. There is one significant exception: Henri's assertion that Lorenites have only one love in their life was simply his own ideal, and Six sets John straight by explaining that many Lorienites in fact have multiple lovers... which conveniently paves the way for not only a love triangle but a love 'square': John loves Sarah, but since he now spends more time around Six he begins to fall for her as well; Six likes Sam and leads him on a good way, but isn't opposed to locking lips with John as well. So it's settled that they can all just like everyone and 'deal with' (get over) whatever old-fashioned discontent this may lead to.
One unnecessary addition to this volume is the weak references to religious indoctrination in the Spanish convent that housed number 9 and her mentor when they were homeless and desperate. This book situates Spain in the stereotypical Middle Ages, and religious devotion is written off as not only unintelligent but even devoid of good will. It is implied that the natural reaction of students is to 'dress like sluts' behind their teachers' backs, and if anyone shows a small sign of interest it proves they must have been indoctrinated. Still, I felt that these kind of stereotypes offer nothing new and have probably lost their sting for most readers. They're not very intelligent though.
Overall, the health conscious might prefer to give it a miss, but I think it would give it too much credit to be overly concerned about it.
Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is the manager of Portico Books and editor of www.GoodReadingGuide.com
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