I loved this book as much as the first, despite some issues I had with the ending.
This book takes place three years after the end of the first book. Annabelle is a mech, an elite female warrior who is charged with protecting the border, rounding up boys and enforcing regulations.
This book also lends more insight into the “Second American Civil War”. As with the first book, this absolutely fascinates me. “When the Progressive Reunion seized power, men got suckered into supporting the Patriots; they saw no alternative. After war broke out, they learned that entrepreneur Adrianne Picard secretly provided the Progressive Reunion with mech gear and drones. The war ended quickly. Radical Patriots clung to Appalachia and limited government”.
The way this is conveyed throughout the book is in a simple manner that is plausible in light of today’s political issues. I live in the great state of Texas, which would probably be at the forefront of any “Patriot” party movement.
In this book, Mr. Erlick further examines the problems that usually plague any sort of “utopian” society. In the Progressive Reunion stronghold, known as the Federal Union, Annabelle learns that the rules don’t apply to all. She sees things in her capacity as a soldier that further questions the confines of her society “we’re all equal, except the elite. She tried to remember where she had read that. Some banned book her mom kept hidden? Animal Farm maybe.”
Also in her capacity as a mech, Annabelle can help the unfortunate boys that are discovered living within the borders of the Federal Union. She becomes part of the Underground Railroad that leads boys and men to safety in the Outland. In this activity, she regularly meets with her adoptive mother’s banished husband. And in a fateful turn of events, meets Geo, her adoptive brother that she has never met.
They both have to collaborate to survive as well as bring peace to their prospective homes.
Again, I love the character of Annabelle for many reasons. Her humanity and her compassion only deepen in this book. She also pieces together many parts of a complex puzzle and is able to avert disaster.
I also fell in love with the character of Geo. He is strong, loyal, very intelligent and also works for what is right. I loved reading about his conflicting feelings for Annabelle.
I also loved reading about the gadgets and techniques Geo and his father came up with while living in the Outland. They have electricity. They have saferooms. They have homemade weapons and other ways to ensure their safety (for the most part).
The problem I have with the ending is that it essentially abruptly ends. Also too many loose ends are tied up at once in a nice pretty package. As much as I love happy endings, things just seemed a little too convenient by the end.
I would have liked an epilogue that sketches out Annabelle’s new life or a hint that everything is alright beyond the last pages of the book.
But overall, a very satisfying conclusion to the adventure Annabelle began in the first book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)