Series: The Shadow Ravens
Vol or Book #: 2
Author: Lola Dodge
Format: E-book and Paperback
Publisher:Ink Monster, LLC
Cover by: Art by Ana Cruz, Graphics by Paddy Donnelly
Editor: Ink Monster, LLC
The son of two senators, Altair Orpheus leads a life of privilege that provides the perfect cover for his side job: working with the rebel Shadow Ravens to undermine the ruling Seligo government. Everything is running like clockwork until he crosses paths with Quanta. As he watches her deftly maneuver through life in a perverse prison, his plastic heart melts. A jailbreak would be suicide, but Tair is willing to sacrifice everything to give her a chance at happiness.
Now Quanta senses a terrifying new future brewing. She and Tair are bound together, but every image of them kissing, snuggling, and acting knee-weakeningly happy is balanced by a much darker possibility. They’ll be picture perfect together, but only until time rips them apart. How can she follow her heart when she’s seen how their love plays out?
Amazon / Goodreads / Nook / iBooks
This is a fairly intense read with many dark shadows and a beacon of hope, which doesn't always glimmer as bright as it could. Quanta is stuck in a dark place. Her prison appears comfortable enough, but her roll as a guinea pig leaves her at the hands of ruthless scientists for years. There's a lot of violence in this story, so younger readers will want to be aware of that.
I enjoyed the book. Despite her horrid predicament, Quanta doesn't lose her fight or her soul. She deals with things the best way she can, and although feels remorse for her mistakes, isn't the kind of person to dwell on them. I appreciated the way the author weaves Quanta's 'talent' as a part of her person--no regrets or pride. Her ability to see the past or possible futures isn't something she ever questions. Good or bad, it's a part of who she is.
It's easy to feel for Quanta and hate the scientists holding her. Unfortunately, it's never clear why her main torturer acts the way he does (a glimpse at his ghosts would have added to the hate), but he's so evil, it's made me want to strangle him myself. Even the heads of the institute were easy to dislike and formed a great line of bad versus good.
The plot moves well and at no time did I feel like I wanted to lay the book down. Quanta and Tair go up against impossible situations, and even when an 'out' is found, the hopes are quickly bashed away again. The heroes are constantly hit down before they ever get anywhere, making this an edge of the seat type of read. And then there's the flashes of hope. . .perfectly timed sprinkles which shine through the darkness just enough to entice the heroes along. It made me feel for them and cheer for them, and hope for them myself.
The only thing I was missing was a little more depth to the government versus rebels (and perhaps some of the side characters). Quanta and Tair are stuck in the middle of this battle, but it's never clear what the opposing sides represent or what the true problems are. But since I didn't read the first book in this series, I might have missed the information then.
In other words, I can recommend this to YA dystopian fans who enjoy a bit of science fiction and non-stop tension. Because this is one of those reads that one really isn't sure whether or not the hero and heroine will survive.
Mother smiled like a cat, full of ambition and smugness. “Someone wants to meet you.”
Someone? Suddenly, I knew where this was going. “Mother—”
“There are the Astors.” Mother gave a demure wave and started gliding toward a trio standing near an ice sculpture. Her fingers clamped my arm, dragging me along. Father walked on my other side, sandwiching me in place.
No way to run without making a scene. Senator Astor and her husband stood waiting with their daughter.
My free hand bunched into a fist, but I tucked it into my pocket. I couldn’t make a mistake in front of this audience.
Mother exchanged greetings, then made a sweeping gesture. “This is my son, Altair. Altair, this is Layla Astor.”
Layla’s blonde hair tumbled in artful curls and braids. She wore tasteful neutral makeup that emphasized her full lips and emerald green eyes, but a hint of darker eyeliner smudged like a leftover from some previous night’s debauchery; that was half of what I needed to know to escape the conversation.
And I would escape. I had no interest in these shallow romances meant to gain my family position.
“It’s so nice to meet you, Altair. I knew your sister at academy.” And that was why Cass had been invited. Some common bond to me to a potential future mate.
Good thing Cass had stayed home. She’d hate the situation as much as I did.
The girl extended her arm, flashing her Green Helix and I couldn’t avoid the handshake. “Likewise.” Layla’s rough fingertips gave me the last clue I needed. Calluses from playing an instrument. Between that and the eyeliner, I had an excellent guess at how to get rid of her. Rather than sell her out in front of her parents, I offered her an arm. “I was just about to admire the ice sculptures. Would you care to join me?”
“I’d love to.” She smiled and placed delicate fingertips on my arm.
Our parents grinned conspiratorial smiles as we strolled away. No doubt they’d already picked a wedding date. I waited until we were out of modified earshot to speak. “How upset would your family be if I mentioned that you play in a band?”
“Very.” Layla tensed, and her expression and tone shifted from vapid politeness to shrewd consideration. “Not that you should know.”
I shrugged. “I won’t say a thing as long as you don’t press an engagement.”
“Thank God.” Layla shuddered. “Our mothers schemed this one. I thought you were in on it.”
I grinned. I didn’t often stumble onto others faking their way through Helix life, but every so often an ally dropped in my lap. “Should we small talk for a few minutes and then pretend to offend each other?”
Layla pressed her lips together, eying me up and down. “If you’re up to it, I have a better suggestion.”
“Oh?” I handed her a drink taken from a passing tray. Our parents still watched from across the room.
“Let’s meet for coffee. We could draw this out for months.”
“A faux courtship?” It had promise, although there were certainly risks.
“You’re the first guy they’ve set me up with who’s not a self-centered ass.” Layla’s mischievous smile made her eyes sparkle. “My girlfriend would love you.”
Her voice was clear of subterfuge and I found myself smiling back. “Next week? I’m sure our parents already exchanged our contact information.” And faking a relationship would save me getting blindsided at every event.
“Call me.” She finger-waved and then headed for a crowd of friends, who proceeded to glance my way, slipping a few quickly smothered cackles. I nodded before heading off to work the crowd.
Despite my parents’ efforts, the night was going better than expected.
Lola is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University—and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.