A famous pop star may have ties to a Colorado teen who disappeared three years ago in this second installment of a YA series.
Most people believe Ember Trouvé, who vanished as a high school senior, is no longer alive. But her best friend, Maddie Olson, now a college junior, refuses to accept Ember’s death while Jared Trouvé is practically obsessed with finding his sister. In fact, Jared is certain that pop singer Oshun is Ember. Though unconvinced, Maddie travels with Jared to catch one of Oshun’s concerts in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Xintra is an enigmatic woman with a sinister plan in Trinity, a Colorado forest that Ember first discovered in Book 1. Evidently, most who find Trinity Forest don’t have the ability to leave. But Xintra claims she and others share DNA with ancient beings, and she’s implemented a plot of genocide in the outside world to “elevate the superior race.” Indeed, a deadly virus is quickly spreading in various U.S. states, and the vaccine is seemingly ineffective. Readers know that Ember is in an unexplained dreamlike state, but if she really is Oshun, she may be the only one who can stop Xintra and her extermination plan. Alsever (Ember Burning, 2017), whose preceding novel centered on the ominous Trinity Forest, tones down the fantasy/horror aspects in Book 2. This leisurely paced volume offers primarily Maddie and Jared’s story. Fiercely loyal Maddie is determined to find her friend and ensure Jared, for whom she clearly has feelings, doesn’t go “off the deep end.” Nonetheless, Xintra, the indisputable villain, is terrifying; she controls “rebirthers” who do her bidding outside of Trinity Forest and occasionally employs torture. The author’s confident writing, as in her earlier book, is visually arresting: “My heart stretches in two different directions”; “His voice is no longer chocolate. It’s blood red.” Though reading the first installment is not a necessity, it does significantly enhance the sequel, particularly regarding someone in Trinity Forest who has a relationship with Ember.
A slow-paced but keenly written fantasy that should surely spark interest in the trilogy’s finale.