(review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com)
***WARNING: This is a review of a sequel, so spoilers for the first book may crop up here. Read with caution. :)***
While I didn't like this book quite as much as the first, it's still a very awesome sequel and I'm very glad I picked it up.
The first thing I noticed is how differently this book reads from its predecessor. TNS had a little more tension going on because Stanton and Emily were being pursued through the whole thing, so they were always on the run. In this installment, there's no immediate danger (well, not right away anyway), so it feels a little more leisurely. I have to say that I really liked the fast paced feeling in the first novel, but it wasn't detrimental to this book that it wasn't; it's just felt different. Reading about Emily's obstacles as she tries to fit into high society was really entertaining though.
Also worth noting; if you really loved Stanton in the first one, don't be too upset but his absence in this sequel. He is around of course, but not all the time like he was in the first. I loved seeing him and Emily together in this one. They still bicker a little bit (how could they not?) but their relationship was pretty touching, even when Stanton was a jerk and kept all kinds of secrets from Emily.
And Emily! How I love that lady. If she were real, I would want to be her friend, because she's kind of awesome. Emily doesn't quite fit in society because she can't seem to conform to the standards that is expected of one who is 'high-class'. I think I relate to that because I'm really one of the most ungraceful people I know (not for a lack of trying). Not that Emily is ungraceful herself, but she doesn't fit into the norms of high-class femininity despite her efforts, and I can sympathize with that, to a certain degree. Like TNS, Emily is head-strong, resourceful and is not afraid to stick her neck out to get stuff done.
Stanton, on the other hand, wasn't quite as awesome. After everything that Emily did in TNS, I was frustrated that he didn't want her around more often to help out; he, and pretty much everyone working for him, kept whisking Emily off because she was a 'distraction', when she's proven (especially to him!) that she's quite capable of taking care of herself and helping out. I was frustrated with all the secrets he kept from her as well, but I eased a bit on that later on. I mean, what was he supposed to say, really? "Oh yeah, Emily, by the way, I totally had an affair with a crazy blood-thirsty sangrimancer, thought you should know." Or "I could have been cured from being burned, but I *haven't* because I'm actually this super-ultra weapon person in case of the end of the world." So while he secret-keeping frustrated me a bit at first, I was more than able to forgive him. So he was still kind of awesome, even if he bugged me sometimes.
In TNS, we didn't get to see how magic was used by others all too much. We mostly just got to see Emily and Stanton use animancy and credomancy (and a little bit of sangrimancy on Stanton's part). In THG, we see a lot more of how magic works in society, which was really neat.
The supporting characters were quite strong in this installment as well, especially Ms. Jecsiezka (is that how you spell her name? I can't remember.) At the beginning of the novel, I thought she was going to be a total bore, but she ended up being really sweet and caring towards Emily, and really did want the best for her and Stanton.
One other little thing that bothered me... what was with the whole Dmitri kissing Emily thing? I thought it was totally unnecessary. I am glad that it didn't devolve into some huge misunderstanding, or melodrama though. It happened, but I felt like there was no point to it.
To my knowledge, The Native Star was meant to be a duology, and I really got that sense from the ending presented here as well. This saddens me a bit because I really like these books. They're not DEEP or anything, but they're so much fun and I really enjoy them. I really hope that Hobson writes other books in this universe or something. Even if she doesn't though, I'll more than likely check out whatever she puts out next. :)
Final Verdict: This is a really great sequel. It's quite a bit of a different feel to it than The Native Star because there's no running from constant danger, but it's still a lot of fun watching Emily navigate in high class society. Emily is an extremely likable heroine, which makes her following her journey all the more enjoyable. Stanton is a lot less present in this installment than the first, and he did a lot of things that irked me, but by the end he completely redeemed himself. Watching him and Emily be in a loving relationship (but still remaining true to themselves) was really sweet. The minor characters were well done, especially Ms. Jecsieka, who I especially liked. :) We get to learn all about Emily's past in this installment, as well as her relationship with the Sina Mira, which was only touched on briefly in the first novel. The way the book ends and from what I've heard around the web tells me that this is the last book in the Native Star series, which makes me sad because I've really enjoyed these. I can just hope that Ms. Hobson comes out with more books in this alternate history universe. However, I'll take a look at whatever she comes out with next. :)