Sunday, April 29, 2018

Review: Second Nature

Title: Second Nature
Author: Lauren Kuzimski
Page Count: 408
My Rating: 3 TURTLES: An enjoyable read, but I suggest check out if you like the topic before adding it to your to-read list.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review

Opposite elements, same side…

Long ago, the Esscas, a rogue group of elementals, had once dared to challenge the Queens, the self-proclaimed masters of the element realms. The resulting war had decimated the world and the very people. In the end though, the Queens had prevailed and banished the Esscas to the After for all eternity. 

Fae had shared no alliance with the Esscas, but had felt the ripples of their punishment nonetheless. For their actions, she would never be free. Born a fire elemental herself, Fae had spent every waking moment of her life training to be a guard for her Queen, with no choices in regards to her own fate. It was that or exile herself. 

Jace, on the other hand, had been born an earth elemental with every choice in the world, yet had been one of those that had taken part in the Esscas. His punishment… eternity in exile, swallowed in regrets…

When the Esscas escape, vengeful and angry, and threatening the world once more, Fae and Jace quickly find their fates intertwined. While Fae fights for the chance to taste her freedom, Jace finds a chance to atone for his past mistakes. 

Only by setting aside their differences, in both elements and loyalties, do they stand any chance to make a change and defeat Jace’s ex-team once more.

If only trust was that easy…

As much as I wanted to really like it, Second Nature wasn’t really my cup of tea. This book was hard for me to get into and stay invested in. I think part of the reason for me was that we are told about the conflict the Esscas have with the Queens, but not really shown the root of why the Esscas hate the Queens, at least not for a while, which makes it hard to feel emotionally invested. I can be told the Queens are tyrannical, but unless I see how their tyranny negatively impacts their subjects or the Esscas, it’s going to be hard for me to root for one team or another or feel emotionally conflicted about rooting for one team or another. 

Another thing that made it hard for me to get into the story was that there were a lot of details about the world building that were missing for me. It seemed to fall into the pitfall that some fantasy novels do where it focuses on the macro, it has an interesting and complex map of different realms divided by elements, but lacks the micro. The characters would stop in villages where everyone lived in “huts” and eat at bars, but the book did not give much more description than that. Where the huts white-washed? Covered with mud? Made out of timber? Did they have thatched rooves? Shingles? Maybe the rooves were made out of sod and covered with grass like the Viking settlement in Canada? The landscape and culture seemed roughly medieval European, but I would have loved more detail in order to picture it more clearly, maybe drawing off more specific cultures in the real world. For example, George R R Martin’s the North of Westeros has a lot of Scandinavian influence and J R R Tolkien’s Shire is clearly based on the English country side.

I did really enjoy learning about the different elementals’ powers. I was particularly interested in Jace’s ability to manipulate life matter and thought it was used really cleverly in the story. There were also some plot twists revealed towards the end of the story that I really liked and made different plot threads come together well. I’m also intrigued with Jace and his relationships with the other main characters. There is a lot of development and aspects about his feelings that are not completely clear yet, and I’m sure that will be something that is taken up in the next book.

While there were some parts of this story that I enjoyed and thought were intriguing, unfortunately I came away feeling really lukewarm about this book. If the description intrigued you, by all means check it out. There are a lot of elements in this story that fantasy fans especially might get a kick out of, but I don’t know that I’m invested enough to continue on with the series.

Disclosure: this post contains links to an affiliate program (Amazon), for which I receive a few cents if you make purchases.

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