After The Ward (2013), Ren must save her adopted sister, Aven, from Gov. Voss while keeping the newly discovered magical spring from him and his plans.
Starting immediately where the previous book left off, Ren can’t enjoy the celebration of the people for the miracle cure she delivered, because she knows Voss will experiment on Aven. She throws herself immediately into planning a rescue, which succeeds with difficulty and that leaves Aven promising to come back for her fellow prisoners. In this book the narration is split, with Aven’s chapters giving insight into her personality and the world at large, though the device works best when the sisters are geographically separated, as at times (especially early on) their voices are quite similar. Meanwhile, with the Blight under control, there’s lots of agitation to take on the next big trouble facing the Upper Metro Islets—freshwater availability—through war with water-rich Upstate. At many places the plot is composed of a series of rescues—not just from Voss and his men, but also from the Tètai, the people who guard the spring. Relief from the breakneck pace comes through revelations that, pieced together, explain various characters’ motivations, unlock the mystery of Ren’s heritage, and reveal other twists. The romance is mild; the protagonists’ primary motivation rises from sisterly love. Readers are treated to a solid conclusion.
Narrative distractions are overcome by action and character development in this duology closer. (Dystopian adventure. 12-16)