Friday, April 19, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Isle of Man: Book Two of The Park Service Trilogy

Title: Isle of Man -- Book Two of The Park Service Trilogy
Author: Ryan Winfield
Publisher: Birch Paper Press
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Type of Review: Personal
Kara's Rating: 5.5 Kicks to the Heart

Blurb:  After discovering the horrific truth behind the Park Service, fifteen-year old Aubrey Van Houten has overthrown its leader with the help of his best friend Jimmy and his girlfriend Hannah. But their victory has left all three parentless and alone in a world where drones still hunt humans. And while the Park Service founder might be dead, he's far from gone. Now, Aubrey's quest to free his people will lead him even farther into a world where nothing is what it seems.

Kara's Review: Let me start by saying that I've been waiting so long for this book and it was well worth the wait! If I only had one word to describe this book, it would be FANTASTIC! Thank goodness I have a lot more than one word though ;)  

If you haven't read my review of The Park Service: Book One of The Park Service Trilogy, then I suggest you take a moment to go do that. You can find it here. And before anyone points it out, yes, I gave this book 5.5 Kicks to the Heart, that isn't a typo, and this book deserves many more Kicks than that, but I don't want to be accused of going overboard or anything.

Okay, so now that we're all on the same page, let's get started.

I was hooked from page one--and not because I'd been waiting so long for this, but because of the opening line: "I never meant to kill Hannah's family." (Is anyone else's jaw hanging open like mine is?) I absolutely love it when an opening line jumps off the page and punches you in the gut. What a way to come out swinging, Ryan. Nicely done.

And it only gets better.

This second installment of The Park Service Trilogy takes us on a roller coaster ride full of plot twists, secrets, betrayals, and emotions. There was only one scene in the entire book that I guessed what was happening before it actually happened. (The scene in the cave with Aubrey & Hannah & the serum.) All the others--totally shocked. I did not see any of it coming, which just made it so much more enjoyable.

In the first book, Hannah's character was portrayed as a sweet, innocent, slightly naive girl who was Aubrey's potential love interest. I liked her, but I was a bit skeptical of her. Now I know why. Hannah did a complete 180 in this book, and by the end, I despised her. She's a lying, manipulative, sneaky little traitor who doesn't deserve Aubrey's affections. At this point, I'm not sure she's reedemable. She's going to have to do something really remarkable to change my opinion of her and even then I'm not sure I will be swayed--especially after that little stunt her and the professor pulled on the Isle of Man.

I'm still a little weirded out by the relationship between Aubrey and his best friend, Jimmy. There has never been any outward sexual attraction or any implication that there is any, but I can't help but feel as though it's brewing just under the surface. I get that they've been through a lot together, and that they've saved each others lives more than once, but...I don't know...I get the feeling there is a little something more than just friendship between these two. I could be completely wrong. Then again, I had a feeling about Hannah, which turned out to be spot on. Regardless of how this friendship plays outs, I'll be happy as long as neither of them die.

As usual, Ryan's descriptions are vivid (still a bit too long for my liking in certain spots), often times gruesome, but always handled tactfully and in a way that wasn't offensive. I still have an issue with the whole animal theme in these books, but that is just my own personal hang-up. I don't think I'll ever get over it, but I'll tolerate it for the sake of these books because they really are that good.

And O.M.G.! I'm rendered speechless with this ending. All that keeps going through my mind is: "I can't believe they did that!"

So many times, sequels fall short of the first book. That is NOT the case here. If anything, book two is miles better than book one. And I have very high expectations for the final book. Please don't disappoint us, Ryan =) Now if I can just figure out a way to make October get here faster...Oh, and while I'm at it, I need to see if there's a way I can get a signed copy of this book for my collection. Yes, I have a collection of signed Ryan Winfield books. Don't judge. ;) 

Be sure to stop by Amazon and pick up  your copy of Isle of Man. Grab The Park Service while you're there, too. Trust me, you won't regret it.