I wasn’t a big fan of the first book in this series, but I already had/have books two and three in my ARC queue and have decided to try to give the series a chance – particularly in light of all the great reviews it is getting, and because I generally really like this publisher.
‘Selium’ is a gas with some unusual properties that makes airships float and gives some people magical powers. Some people are ‘sel-sensitive’. Of course the city that produces most of the selium is a city at risk of being taken over and so Hond Steading plans to beef up its defenses. To do this, he city leaders would like to have Nouli – a top-notch engineer who designed the gates that protect the capital of Valathea. But Nouli is being held prisoner on a remote island prison. And it’s all Detan’s fault.
Detan is our hero, returning from the previous book. He is the ‘lovable rogue’ pastiche – a little bit Han Solo (Star Wars), a little bit Mal (Firefly), a little bit Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy) but without the inherent charm of these venerable characters.
Detan doesn’t want to approach Nouli himself, so he assembles some friends to make contact, but things don’t go according to plan, and now Detan has to try to get them all out of prison. But it’s hard to enlist help when you’ve burned a few bridges.
Captain Pelkai plays a bigger role here and that definitely works in author O’Keefe’s favor as she’s the most focused and defined character – because she gets the chance to grow slowly for the reader.
It was definitely easier to get in to the story this time around as I already had a moderate understanding of the characters and the world. O’Keefe didn’t have to try to bring the reader in to something completely new and explain it while moving the plot forward. But if we’re not creating a new world for the reader, what are we doing for 400 pages? Good question.
I still felt that I was being pulled along on a journey that had no focus. There’s some plot (Protect the city! Get Nouli out of prison! etc) but this still feels like a character-driven story but without any real focus on the characters.
And I’m still missing the big picture.
I’ll grant you that this could very well be my own fault … that I’m simply not seeing something right in front of me. But I know this is a part of a series (or trilogy) and I am not getting a sense of where this is headed. Is this a story about Detan and what he does? Is this a story about the unusual element of selium and the effects it creates? Is this a business/political sci-fi story with a rogue-ish pirate interrupting things? Is it a little bit of all of these? But the bottom line is that I don’t know what this story … this series … is about yet.
Looking for a good book? Break the Chains by Megan E. O’Keefe is the second book in the Scorched Continent series and is a step up from the first book, but still wanders and lacks some focus.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Break the Chains
author: Megan E. O’Keefe
series: Scorched Continent #2
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 400 pages