Phoenix was good and frustrating all at the same time for me. Hopefully I don’t ramble in this one but overall I enjoyed this second book. I was able to dive right back into not only Ash’s and Natalie’s stories but also the rebellion which they both play a major role in.
Ash has just survived being crucified and is now being called Phoenix as he rose from the ashes. In the midst of all of this, the vote for Rose’s law is set to take place and Ash has become the poster boy for standing up to Purian Rose. Unfortunately, Rose knows Ash will do anything for Natalie and that is what he threatens him with. Rose and Sebastian grab Ash just before the vote and let him know that if he doesn’t vote for Rose’s law, he will take “Miss Buchanan” and “slice bits off her, piece by piece.”
Now Ash is faced with another decision – save Natalie or betray his people by voting for the segregation laws. Ash decides not to tell anyone what happened and when voting begins in Black City the Sentry Guards are present and intimidating everyone. After seeing other regions cave to Rose’s threats, Ash takes a stand and decides to vote no. And when she finds out about it, Natalie completely understands his decision and tells him she would have done the same.
Once the voting is complete, Purian Rose makes his play by invading the city and he does something that will impact Natalie and haunt her for a while. Whilst all of this is going on, Humans for Unity have also found out just what Rose is up to which happens to be creating another concentration camp for anyone he considers a dissenter called the Tenth.
The rest of the book follows Ash and Natalie on their way to finding what they hope is the weapon that will beat Rose. Elijah happens to be present for most of the journey as he was partnered with them on their way out of Black City. His presence and some other things that happen throughout the book place Ash and Natalie on rocky ground relationship wise. Honestly, for about 10 chapters I just kept wishing they would have it out with each other and talk. They were both so worried about what might happen that neither of them was willing to open up and actually talk about what was really happening with either of them. I get it, Natalie didn’t want to Ash to worry but her actions were the catalyst to Ash doubting their relationship. Add to that the way she was when she was around Elijah and I don’t blame him at all for having those doubts.
With all of that said, the book is about more than just their relationship. Richards does a great job of diving more into the description of the world as it is today. She also gives us more background on the different races. The Lupines add a layer to the story that was critical in Phoenix but I think will be important in book three. We didn’t really get to spend a lot of time with the secondary characters from book one only because for most of the book, we are with Ash, Natalie and Elijah. There are some new characters introduced though and not all of them good in my opinion.
I still like both Ash and Natalie. Though they both do some stupid things here, they have good hearts and truly care about each other. Just know that I really disliked the scene by the fire in the Dacian camp. I have no words for Elijah…at least none that I want published anywhere. We get very little of the Humans for Unity crew in this book (Sigur, Day, Roach, Beetle, etc.) but what we do get was great. I loved seeing them all rally and continue to fight for their beliefs. The bad guys are still really bad – Sebastian doesn’t have a redeeming quality in him and I have to believe he will get what is coming to him…right along with Purian Rose. And although Rose obviously is the main bad guy, I felt like Sebastian was almost presented as the “face” of evil and set up to be the focus for everyone’s anger as we only get little glimpses of Rose throughout the book.
In the end, there is a lot of deception and, dare I say, betrayal. I will definitely be reading book three as this one left off with sort of a cliffhanger which everyone knows isn’t my favorite. With that in mind I have a feeling that the next book will get to the bottom of what really is going on in this world and I am keeping my fingers crossed that someone at Penguin will take pity and send me an early copy so I don’t have to wonder what the heck is going to happen for too long.