In this sequel to Shifters (2014), a pair of superpowered siblings prepare for war against an empire of fascist aliens.
Teens Ryland and Tanner Ascunse of Wethersfield, Connecticut, have just learned that they are Shifters, originally from the planet Gaia. They possess superspeed (among other powers) and belong to a race of aliens that wants to destroy its own children thanks to a prophecy claiming that a child causes the downfall of the Shifters and the rise of the powerless Ordinaries. After defeating an invasion force of adult Shifters in Washington, D.C., Ryland, Tanner, and their small band of superpowered teens are publicly branded as terrorists and blamed for the attack. Once they escape government lockdown, they drive toward their friends’ home, where an army of Shifter kids has gathered to train. Clay, a competent (and gorgeous) pilot, informs them of the step-by-step strategy to wage war against the adult Shifters; this first involves flying to the mining world Six to disrupt the Shifter empire’s fuel supply. Ryland and Tanner, meanwhile, have vengeance on their minds. The villainous Navin slaughtered someone dear to them, and Tanner’s girlfriend, Devon, has been taken hostage. Going on the offensive, the siblings also realize that one of them is surely the child mentioned in the prophecy—and the other is expendable. In the second volume of their epic YA sci-fi series, the Pershings crank up the emotional intensity and violence while trying to keep their protagonists lovable. The teens still mock each other as they trade narration duties; Tanner, for example, tells Ryland, “You can’t just start with us on another planet without explaining how we got here.” There’s also a suitable amount of jaw-dropping detail, like the mention of a Shifter battleship that “creaks and moans as it...stands angled high in the air, impossibly on its end.” Frequently, however, too many supporting characters rotate in and out of focus, and the story feels like a Doctor Who episode on fast-forward. Nevertheless, the fallout from a savage climax asks fresh questions that will lure readers back for the next volume.
Gun battles and gore invigorate this amped-up sequel.