This is the second part of the Aestus series, and it's not meant as a standalone. If you haven't read Aestus Book 1: The City, please start there.
An underground city. A deadly project. And an Intelligence agent who can help Jossey take down the City... if she can trust him again.
Jossey grew up believing the Onlar, creatures of the aboveground, were monsters. But when they kidnapped her, she found out terrible secrets about her city and her family. Her choice to help the Onlar against the City almost cost her her life. And the Intelligence agent she'd thought was her friend was the one tasked with carrying out her execution.
But he didn't quite succeed.
Now Jossey, barely alive, has been sent to the Onlar by a mysterious figure from the City. And time is of the essence - her solar network project could mean disaster not only for the Onlar, but for thousands of citizens as well. She can’t do much from the Onlar camp, but Gavin, Jossey’s Patrol leader and longtime friend, isn’t convinced she’s dead. And Patrol has started to learn the truth.
As tentative alliances form, Jossey begins to think this might be easier than she’d thought. But a terrible miscalculation has been made, one that may cost her and her friends both the City and their lives. Can she see it before it’s too late?
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The second Aestus book continues right where the first one ended. It's still an epic dystopian adventure with a strong romance subplot and high stakes. I enjoyed it, however, I must admit that I loved the first book more.
I think it is because a large part of the tension is gone since one of the most dangerous groups of enemies has turned into allies. It is also because this part brings the story set up in the first part to its natural conclusion. The readers have already discovered most of the hidden truths, experienced most of the plot twists, figured out who most of the characters are and where they stand. There are still a few surprises waiting in this book, just not as many as in the first one.
I felt that this part was not as flawlessly executed as the first one. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great read, it's just that the first book has set the bar really high. The Colony is a good book that I was engrossed it, but it seemed to me (and maybe that's a wrong impression) that, maybe, it lacked one last round of editing to polish all the rough edges and make it shine like The City.
There is one more person added to the complexity of romance, and it felt a bit repetitive because he is tall and handsome, a great warrior who is tasked with protecting Jossey but has a reason not to reveal his feelings for her. This is not a major flaw, but if there must be so many people in love with Jossey, it would be more interesting if they and the circumstances that bring them to Jossey weren't so similar to each other. The tension of the romance is probably even higher than in the first book though! There is a lot going on here, and I didn't know who Jossey would choose until the very end.
I want it to be clear that all the things I've mentioned are rather minor imperfections. They didn't ruin the book for me, just made it feel not quite as smooth, the tension not as constant and evenly distributed as in the first book. Nevertheless, it has a lot to offer! There is still a lot of action, especially closer to the end. There are still some things to learn about the world, and some satisfaction to be had when certain people get what they deserve. There are still some parallels to the important real-life issues that were discussed in the first book. The stakes are really high, and many things don't go as planned. The characters are still likeable and human. It's definitely worth reading if you loved the first book.
Both books have some integrity to them, some sense of justice and honor that helps bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. I loved how it ended. It's one of those endings that leave you feeling good after a long adventure full of dangers and worrying.
To sum it up, Aestus Book 2: The Colony was a lot of fun and provided a great ending to the story, even thought it was not quite as strong as the first book, in my opinion.
I will be waiting for other books by S.Z. Attwell. I'm excited to see her journey as an author after such an epic debut.
You might enjoy the book if you loved the first one and want to know how the story ends.
Check out my interview with the author S.Z. Attwell!
S.Z. Attwell is a professional science writer with an M.A. in media studies, but her real love has always been fiction writing. She just released the first book in her debut series, Aestus, and has a speculative-fiction/sci-fi novel in the works, along with a short story that she hopes to turn into a novella.
In her spare time, she does photography and archery, among other things.