At the close of Haven, Katelyn has resigned herself to her secret. Although she shared it with her closest friends, if it gets out that she visited the outside world, repercussions will not only affect her. Life, however, seems a little dull since she’s been back, and Katelyn is trying to decide what to do with her future when the Pull is pulling her toward the outside world and the boy she left behind. Things change when a half crazed member of their community destroys the radio tower, and everything that Katelyn thought she had escaped from may be coming right to the doorstep of Haven and her loved ones. Her mission takes her back to the outside world, and only she knows how bad it would be if she doesn’t find the lost explorers before they tell the Prince how to get to Haven.
Paperglass thrusts us deeper into the outside world. I was very happy to read more about how their military and ability system worked. We got to see a little more depth to why the Margraves and Dragoons are so dreadful, instead of being told. The world started to get fleshed out the further they traveled from the wall, so I was able to see how Katelyn reacted to life among the outsiders, which was something I had wished happened in Haven. Again, the pacing in Paperglass is a bit faster than I wanted it to be. It worked a little better this time around because there were multiple conflicts in the novel, rather than only being a novel about returning to Haven and to safety.
A complaint I do have is that there aren’t many named side characters. Paperglass, like Haven, is driven by the core main characters, with side characters making a brief appearance to say something and then sit on the sidelines until they were necessary again or dying on the page. As a consequence, they felt very much like tools to drive the plot forward, rather than actual characters. They could have been a little more vibrant. Another consequence of that is that Paperglass becomes a romance novel with fantasy thrown in. The focus seemed a bit heavier on Rune and Katelyn’s relationship this time around, and less on the conflict and mission that the characters are on.
I was interested, however, in the inclusion of Dylan. It wasn’t clear if he had survived at the end of the last novel or not, so I was surprised to see him alive and moderately well when Paperglass started. I do like when you can’t always tell what antagonistic characters are up to, and having Dylan in Paperglass was something that created tension and made Katelyn question the morality of her past and current decisions.
Although the characters do bother me a little, Paperglass is a book that I enjoyed because the world is rich enough to make up for the lack of characterization. It also helps that these novels are very short reads; they’re engaging for the four hours or so that it takes to finish reading them, which is good if you want to read straight through them in an afternoon. Paperglass built upon the foundation started in Haven, so I enjoyed it a bit more.
Katelyn’s role as an outsider has finally come to this. Since she wasn’t born in this land, she has the potential to bring peace to the two separated countries if she agrees to be an envoy. She’s tasked with asking Prince Varion to send military support to Breakwater, a town that is only moments away from the wrath of Prince Raserion after the events in Paperglass. That is easier said than done in this ever expanding world of abilities, Dragoons, Princes, and Hussars, the North’s answer to the Dragoons. Traveling to and from war zones is fraught with danger, and Katelyn has to balance protecting her friends and those she left behind while worrying if there are spies reporting on their movements. Her own decision to agree to Prince Raserion’s demands–something that she felt she had no other choice to do–haunts her. She wrestles with the question of who is worse: the prince who drains those with abilities or the one who can raise the dead.
There isn’t much more I can add in my impression of this series that I haven’t already said. A.R. Ivanovich continues to build the world that we now know is called Lastland; this time, however, she takes us to explore parts of it that we’ve only heard mention of in the previous books. Monarch takes primarily takes place in the northern capital, a place that is as different to Breakwater as Breakwater is to Haven. I felt even more immersed this time around because there was no break in the story where Katelyn returned to Haven at the end of Paperglass. As such, Paperglass and Monarch read as single book, which allowed the action to continue gaining momentum. I enjoyed reading them back-to-back.
My one quibble that has been building since Paperglass is that Katelyn’s powers are becoming a bit too deus ex machina. It has been mentioned several times throughout the series that using abilities can drain you, so you have to judge when it is best to use them. However, I feel that Katelyn gets into situations that are difficult to get out of, only to have her abilities suddenly surge ahead to get them out of it. The feeling of having nothing to lose may be something that helps her suddenly have more power over them, but it just happens at super convenient times for her, which seems unlikely to me. There has to be some balance to this.
Dylan Axton, however, is quickly becoming my favorite because he has the most character development. Alone, I don’t think I’d necessarily like him. How he acts (although it is sometimes unfriendly) in the face of everyone’s mistrust of him is a source of constant interest for me.
Now that I’ve finished the third book of this series, more and more I’m realizing that it’s very much a cotton candy book where I can’t put it down, but I don’t think I will read the series again once I’ve finished it. I get the sense that it won’t stick with me as much as other books have.
I received both Paperglass and Monarch from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.