Monday, February 22, 2016

See How They Run by Ally Carter, 2015

Warning: this review will have some major spoilers from the first book in the Embassy Row series, All Fall Down (click here to read my review).

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Inside every secret, there's a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions--from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.
Grace's past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.
The twists get twistier and the turns get even more shocking in the second thrilling installment of Embassy Row.

(336 pages)

I reviewed All Fall Down pretty soon after it came out, and I really loved it. Usually I don't go in for hype, but with All Fall Down I actually agreed with all the other rave reviewers: it was a good book. A really good book. And I couldn't wait to read the sequel.

Which is why I bought a copy of See How They Run from Half-Priced Books a few days after it came out. I'm a very impatient person, and the library just wasn't quick enough for me. It was discounted, so I payed like fifteen dollars instead of twenty. Or, really, my aunt did - I used her giftcard to buy it.

Anyway, was it worth it? Um, kind of. I did enjoy See How They Run (and I was infinitely excited that it didn't travel down the campy road All Fall Down's ending hinted at), but the characters and story have lost a certain spark that was so evident in the first book. Alexei is still very sweet, but the beautiful relationship of unspoken trust and dependence that was built up in the first book has morphed into a more aggressive form of attachment that I still enjoyed pretty well but not as much as before.

A lot of other reviewers said that they got sick of how whiny Grace is throughout the book. My mom, who never reads any books reviews, had the same issue when she finished reading it. I can definitely see the basis for these complaints, because Grace spends a lot of time talking about how damaged she is and about how it's really not okay, no matter what people say. She also wanders around saying rude things to people who are trying to be polite about her condition, like "Yeah, you're treating me gently because I'm mentally unstable and killed my own mother. Just come off it and say the truth." That definitely could be annoying. But, for me, I feel like Grace's behavior is simply realistic. I'm very tired of MC's going through big traumatic events and then just shaking themselves off and continuing on like nothing happened. Grace has been through some huge trauma lately, and she shows it - and I may not always like the way she's fixated on her past or the way she interacts with the people around her, but I appreciate that she's being real.

I also love how it takes so long to figure out what the story's about, and we don't ever really know until literally the last sentence of the entire book. There's so much going on in the book I feel like some things got shortchanged (Grace sure brushes off the ancient secret society pretty quickly - I know I, for one, would have been way more interested in finding out the history behind it!), but there's a lot of room for the next book in the series to expand some of the more intriguing elements of the story.

And now for that ending. I can't say anything about it, because of massive spoilers, but I have some very mixed feelings about the big revelation at the end of the novel. On one hand, my inner girly-girl is squealing. On the other, my inner cynic is rolling its eyes big-time. I guess I'll have to wait and read the third book before I find out how I really feel about this particular development.

Until then, I guess I'll just put my two Embassy Row books up on the bookshelf and settle in for the long wait for Book Three.

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