Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cass Dollar is my new Kara Thrace. I don't really know what to say after having read this second installment in Sophie Littlefield's Aftertime series. I was shocked, appalled, annoyed, bored & completely riveted in awe. There's a lot going on here & it's not for the faint of heart. Still, the Beaters are not the worst or most dangerous thing going on. I very much love that.
I must admit that my annoyance was mostly surrounding Cass & her reasoning to leave the Box... **SPOILER ALERT** WITH her child! I'm not a mother, but this seemed like a patently bad idea. Especially since the point is made that Cass only decided the place was no longer worthwhile after Smoke departed. Really, Cass? Ruthie didn't need to grow up around other children & have better until your man hit the road on a quest for revenge? It was all good until he left & then it was untenable? Whatevs. Now, as a character action, I was annoyed but from a storytelling POV, I took this as the way to get her out of the Box & on to Rebuilder world in Colima with Dor. I can live with it. I found her repeated use of Ruthie as her touchstone when presented with moments of peril & general crazy felt less solid than her plight in book 1. Afterall, for all Cass's "woe is me" Ruthie was brought into the present crisis directly by Cass's actions & decisions.
And then there's Dor. Honestly, I was not invested in Dor (this is where I confess boredom) & could never deeply connect with his character because I was still invested in Smoke's story (yes, I had suspected what his secret was tied to in Aftertime Book 1), so I wanted to get on to that. Also, I felt allegiance to Smoke & his plight & didn't much care for Cass seeking to hookup with Dor, not 48 hours after Smoke left the Box. Especially since for Cass she was bent on self-loathing, anger & usury. Her being angry over Nora (Smoke's long cast aside now dead ex) was made even more hollow for me after that. She yammered on & on about being betrayed but she displayed little to no loyalty & allegiance to anyone but herself, so it came off as narcissism & got very old, very quickly. Cass wallowed good & deep in her self-pity & bitterness & while I was interested in where this was all going, I found that often, I was losing patience with her being so all over the place. As a character she made me straddle the fine line between "I'm repulsed but I still care about you" & "I don't even care what your problems & issues or how damaged you are! Get yourself sorted!" I've walked this road with Kara Thrace of BSG & she was one of my favorite characters of all time, so I hung in with Cass. I believe in complex redemption. I won't know until the end of book 3 if Cass delivers, but I'm going to see it through.
I also have to admit that I wasn't very fond of the use of Ruthie as mute-but-prescient & able to dispense premonitions in toddler vernacular when sleep dazed. I thought having her mute was useful because being on the road with a toddler while trying to hide from Beaters & human threats is a lot more risky with a toddler you can't guarantee to be quiet. I was willing to let that bit go as a reader. But also a mono-syllabic clairvoyant? I'm sorry, I call shenanigans.
I want to say that I had enough energy & interest in Sammi & her plight but Cass took up just about all my energy, so I can't. It was interesting but I can't say I would have missed Sammi specifically if she weren't here. That part of the story could just as easily have been told through some other random girl & kinda was as it was picked up in a new character to take us into book 3.
I'm no fan of "love" triangles (I tend to believe that true love is not fickle, so easily waning & certainly not a group sport), so I won't pass judgment on the one offered here (I can't even recognize one of the angles here as anything resembling love). I tend to feel they're trite in general & never compliment the players/characters but only serve as a device that's often not expertly executed & make everyone involved a little less interesting & little more unlikable. The one here may be well executed if that's your thing but I am one to resist them on site, so I reserve objective opinion.
Honestly, & this isn't a slam to the story told in this book, I think I could have skipped this one & gone straight to the last & been perfectly happy. I won't reveal the exciting bits in the last half of the story but I will say it does not disappoint & made a great case for this installment & reading the final installment.
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