Synopsis: The machines believed their extermination of the human race would be over as quickly as it began. They were wrong. As the war against extinction intensifies, people are beginning to gain the upper hand.
Commander Rhona Long understands survival better than most. Killed in combat, she was brought back to life using her DNA, and she’s forged a new, even more powerful identity. Now the leader of the resistance, she’s determined to ensure the machines are shut down for good.
But victory is elusive. The machines have a new technology designed to overcome humanity’s most advanced weaponry. Despite Rhona’s peacekeeping efforts, former nations are feuding over resources as old power struggles resurface. Worse, someone inside the resistance is sabotaging the human cause—someone who, from all appearances, seems to be Rhona . . . or her exact replica.
Rating: ★★★★★ (I really wish there were more stars for this one)
“It feels like I’m in a juggling act-except I don’t know how to juggle, and the balls are actually grenades, and all the grenades are already missing their pins. And they’re on fire.”
Would it be completely weird for me to say that I think Hayley Stone and I were separated at birth? Or maybe her character Rhona and I were…Either way it’s like I’ve discovered my long-lost twin reading this book, or myself. Now I always thought that Juliette from Shatter Me was the most like me, and to a degree she still is (love you girl) but I think Rhona is as close to the book version of me I am ever going to get. Although I still need to be combat trained, experience a machine apocalypse, get a british boyfriend, magically make my hair red and shrink several inches…all perfectly achievable right 😉?
No, but all joking aside, what Stone has created in this series is nothing short of masterful. Even going in with my high expectations from the first book (and believe me I had sky-high expectations), she soared right past them and blew out the stars! Every plot was expanded on, every character better developed and new twists added that I hadn’t even fully expected in the first place. Slow clap is a must in this scenario👏.
So first, the characters. Of course everyone should know by now my feelings on the main character, Rhona. The wit, backbone and unfailing hope that this author has been able to imbue in one heroine is just stunning. When something happens to this character it feels almost personal, like it’s happening to me, and that’s how I feel every narrative should be. Her struggles and accomplishments feel real. And as a result the other characters she interacts with feel more complex because of her own intricate nature.
In the last book I had some issues with Camus as a love interest for Rhona and while I still love Samuel completely I am much more on board for the Camus x Rhona story after this book. More through dialogue than exposition I got to know the character more and understood his actions and interactions with Rhona and the other characters. This goes for Samuel too, although he is not present for a good amount of the book he is always such a favorite of mine, adding the sweet and gentle touch the book sometimes needs.
I have to praise Stone’s ability to keep a book that has some very depressing elements astonishingly light-hearted and even hopeful. I think it has to do with her knack for appropriately timed jokes and making the characters so realistic. She also doesn’t spend excess time describing the violent or graphic scenes, which could make the book too weighty or sad. She uses a writing style that gets the point across without being long-winded (something I’m clearly not good at 🤔).
The plot deserves accolades as well, moving along at a fast clip through the entire book, keeping me on the edge of my toes but still managing to take time for quiet romantic diversions and subtle character building. And as was the case the last time I never felt lost when reading all of the different descriptions when regarding the machines or of the political goings on, and there was a lot of it…but in a good way.
Also, there were a lot of pop culture references that appealed to me in a personal way, that I adored and made me love this book even more, but the reason I’m rating it five stars isn’t because it spoke to me personally (which it 100% did) but because the writing, characters and plot are so well done that I think this book deserves a spot amongst some of the highly publicized and critically acclaimed books out there. I know I’m just a small book blogger and I haven’t even begun to delve into the massive amount of books that are out there, but talent is talent and Hayley Stone has it in spades.
Overall I feel so blessed to have gotten the chance to read this sequel. As you can tell I am eagerly awaiting the next book and truthfully I don’t think my patience (or lack there of) will survive…stay tuned.😩🚑
*I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley from Random House Publishing Group – Hydra in exchange for an honest review*
Review of the first book – “Machinations”
Extra Thoughts (Spoilers Ahead):
- The whole bit about the Pirates attraction, I just…I know it’s probably weird (just another thing right) but I love the smell of that attraction so for a mention of it to be in the book is so awkwardly charming💘.
- And then there’s the Ewan McGregor / Moulin Rouge thing 💋…this book is doing things to my poor little heart.
- Also, I keep getting this weird feeling about Camus x Rhona’s relationship…like a bad ending kind of vibe. I’m a happy ending all the way girl so I’m always suspicious but something about the way even the other characters are commenting on it gives me the hebe gebes.
- Samuel needs a girlfriend, ASAP. He is too adorable to keep pining after Rhona…who is with me!?