Darkness Follows by L. A. Weatherly
Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd.
Genres: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
For Fans of: Legend, Divergent, Shatter Me
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Welcome to a ‘perfect’ world. Where war is illegal, where harmony rules. And where your date of birth marks your destiny. But nothing is perfect. And in a world this broken, who can Amity trust? Set in a daring and distorted echo of 1940s America, the BROKEN trilogy is an exhilarating epic of deception, heartbreak and rebellion.
Welcome to Harmony 5: a secure prison camp where the rebellious and the Discordant are broken. Amity is their newest inmate. The rules are simple here: obedience or death. Anyone caught trying to escape is executed. But former Peacefighter, Ingo, is prepared to risk everything for freedom. And in a world this dark, what has Amity got to lose?
The second in a brand-new YA trilogy with an exhilarating mix of irresistible romance, breath-taking action and thrilling mystery. Effortlessly fuses the old-style glamour of 1940s America with the corrupt menace of a futuristic world in a hugely original twist on the steampunk genre – Blitzpunk. Darkness Follows is a chilling and compelling journey of revenge, survival and love.
How do you write a sequel review without spoiling the first book?
I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
I think I’ve already mentioned that I severely dislike withholding important information as a plot device. It’s a cheap trick – one employed waaaay too many times in YA fiction – and I’m sad to say that Darkness Follows used it, too.
If you read my review for Broken Sky (or saw my IG or Twitter), then you know that I LOVED the first book. I thought it was original and gritty, and well-written. It took my by surprise. But even though I expected to, I didn’t love this one as much as I loved its predecessor.
The sequel picks up a few months(?) after the last book left off, with Amity captured by Gunnison’s men, deemed a traitor to her nation, and shipped off to Harmony 5 – one of this world’s versions of a concentration camp. She’s more or less a changed woman now – The Guns have beaten and broken her into… not submission, exactly, but almost. Which, if you’ve read the first book, you’ll find weird because [SPOILER: Last we saw her, Amity was escaping the war with Collie]
So, basically you’re thrown into this book with the knowledge that something went horrible awry. And it doesn’t take too long to figure that this something has a lot to do with the actions of Collis Reed. And here comes the issue that I mentioned at the beginning of this review – the mystery revolving around Amity’s capture was held too close to the vest. Which would have been fine if it had been crucial to the storyline – if holding on to this secret for as long as everyone did actually made a difference in the grand scheme of things. But it didn’t.
I could have also forgiven this withholding of information if the two narrators hadn’t known it. But at some point in the story, both our narrators (Amity and Mac, this time) knew this information, and still chose to dance around it. By the time it was revealed that [SPOILER: Collie had seemingly betrayed Amity, (surprise, surprise)] I’d not only already figured it out, but I’d also built it up in my head to be much worse than it was. So when the reveal finally came, it was anticlimactic.
This is just one of the handful of things that made Darkness Follows a bit of a let-down. Pacing, again, was an issue. There was a lot of buildup. Slow, slow, buildup. Picture a single man pushing a giant tire up a hill. He huffs, he puffs, he slips sometimes, but eventually, he gets that tire to the crest of the hill. But instead of letting it roll down to the bottom on its own, like you’d expect, he latches tightly onto the tire and tries to control how fast it slides down the hill.
So the tire’s journey down the slope is jerky, too. Stops and starts, with sudden rushes of momentum in between. And then, finally, once he sees the slope leveling out into flat terrain, only then does he let go, and allows the tire to roll down the rest of the way at it’s own pace.
The pacing of this book was exactly like that. Jerky, with random bursts of speed, and with a ridiculously fast paced final few chapters. It was boggling – even worse than the first book, where I actually LIKED the slow buildup. I’ll admit that the ending for this was much less rushed than the first one, but the weird pacing throughout the rest of it kind of takes away from that.
I also don’t know how I feel about any of the characters any more. Collie and Mac, so far, are the only ones who feel real. Amity.. while I understand that Harmony 5 changed her (obviously. How could it not?) the changes don’t seem to be very consistent. She waffles a lot between her new self and her old self, and that doesn’t really make much sense to me considering all she’s been through. And Ingo? I loved Ingo in the first book. And idk if this is me reacting to a potential love triangle, but I feel like he’s lost a lot of his charm. Again, I get he’s been through a lot, but his interactions with Amity now feel… wooden. But I don’t know. Maybe this is all just me.
Now for the things I did like!
1) I liked the Hitler and WWII parallels. I feel like Weatherly’s use of star signs as the device of segregation just makes it all seem so much more ridiculous and heinous. Gunnison was a respected leader, a great orator, and a man who firmly believed he was doing the best for his nation by cleansing it of people he deemed “impure”, and then went and committed mass genocide. Sound like someone you’ve heard of?
2) I liked Amity’s mixed feelings on the whole Collie situation. I also like how the Collie situation was dealt with. He’s not completely redeemable, but he’s not completely despicable either – he’s in this gray area that can either take him down a path of tremendous growth, or one of darkness. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see where he goes.
3) Weird pacing and withholding of information as a plot device aside, this is still a really good series. It’s riveting, and in terms of premise, it’s wholly original. Weatherly is not afraid to take risks with her plot, as she showed us with the ending of this novel. She let you suspect, sure, but I don’t think anyone was truly prepared for what happened in that ending. I sure wasn’t.
Regardless of my issues with this book, I still recommend it to anyone who’s into Dystopian novels, and anyone who’s looking for a fresh dystopian. It’s got it’s problems, but so far, the Broken Sky Trilogy has been engaging, well-written, and a wonderfully dramatic read, and I personally cannot wait to get my paws on the next one.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.