I've actually got to say that I enjoyed the second book better than I did the first. A lot of my complaints about the first book have carried over to this one, but I think I'm glad that in this book we actually get the closure that we've been begging for since we began this insane journey and first started hearing the tales of Sapphique and the desires of Incarceron.
Overall, this is a duology that I am buying--without a doubt, without a fraction of a doubt. I may have a great many complaints about a lot of things, but I still feel that this book had some elements to it that I could not get enough of. And, to me, they're elements of a book that I feel make the books worth investing in.
As I said though, the problems are still there. I still don't quite like any of the characters. Attia has my respect. Keiro needs to be beat up by someone else and put fair and square in his place because he's an arrogant, pig-headed bastard. Finn is still sappy, but I'm proud of him considering how well he did based on all that he had to go through. The poor kid has doubts, and who can blame him considering what he's been going through? Claudia needs to die in a fire. I'm still kinda on the fence about the Warden, but eh... I have a weakness for weird ass people that do their jobs and are jerks about it. Even if I disagree with him and don't particularly like some things about him, I can't say I disapprove of either his actions or his attitude. In fact, I think I like it more than I dislike it, even though he does things that mess up other important things that I want to happen. *Shrugs* Oh well. He makes a good "villain" I suppose. Though anyone reading this book will tell you it's too upside-down and inside-out and left-and-right to ever get the difference between good and bad discerned properly.
But that being said...
...we then have the three characters that I love the most: Incarceron, Sapphique, and Jared. I can't really talk much about them, but there's a lot more that's revealed about Incarceron and Sapphique. At the very least, the rumors and riddles get some more explanation and facts behind them than they'd given us before. We still get teased to high Heaven about everything without getting the answers until much farther on, but well--I'll take anything I can get at this point, since I've probably been driven half mad myself sucking up any info I can about these two. I feel like there was some effort a closure between Sapphique and Incarceron in this book, and I'm very happy about that. If there wasn't, I was going to throw myself off a building (more likely the couch in some dramatic effort of angst for my unanswered needs, but you get the point).
Even so though, I still have this desperate craving for more. And when I say "more" I don't mean "WRITE ANOTHER BOOK" more, because trust me: I DON'T. I don't want another book. I don't think I could stand another book of this, to be honest. It's a little sad, but I feel pretty much the same way that I did at the end of the first book. Namely: "Okay, so everyone else did this, blah blah, whatever. When do we get to see the smexies between Sapphique and Incarceron in full detail?" Only we get the tiniest, briefest, ALL TOO SHORT-est of SMIDGEONS of that! And I'm just going to go curl up in a corner and cry my fangirl heart out because I NEED THIS PAIRING LIKE I NEED AIR TO SURVIVE. *Eye twitch*
Book drove me mad, I tell ya. You act as though you don't believe me, sheesh. When a girl says she's crazy for something (especially a pairing and her latest OTP), you do not question it. But back to the review.
I still feel as though the book ended, the story ended, and we've still got NOTHING done. Okay, the book DOES leave off giving everyone an idea of how things are going to go from here on out. "Welcome to the Dark Ages! Now survive and rebuild your world. Whoopee!" NO ONE CARES. IT WAS LIKE THAT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT AT ALL?! -_- Therefore this isn't a spoiler.
Besides the fact that I really still don't give that much of a rip about the main characters besides the three minimal ones that I've mentioned over and over, the other thing that STILL pisses me off even more is... NO ONE EVER EXPLAINS HOW THE WORLD GOT THE WAY IT WAS IN THE FIRST PLACE. The series is OVER and I STILL don't know what the "Years of Rage" entailed, and no one explained to me what this BACKUP source of power is that's been powering this "Era" of fancy frou-frou-ness. And WHAT ERA ARE WE EVEN REPLICATING?! And on top of that, is the "Realm" that we talk about in this book an actual COUNTRY or is it literally THE ENTIRE, FLIPPIN', WORLD? You think they would explain this to you! YOU THINK. YOU'D THINK THAT RIGHT? That they'd TELL you what the HELL IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD YOU'RE CONSTANTLY LIVING IN.
The stories are all ended and I STILL don't know the DAMNEDEST about what happened! Oh sure, we get peeks into what the hey is going on in this book and then the entire fricken thing comes crashing down around them all at the end like EVERYONE KNEW IT WAS GOING TO ANYWAY SO IT'S NOT EVEN A SPOILER... (No really. They say it almost from the very beginning of the first book. -__- Not a spoiler.) But explain what happened in the past that made it all this way? Noooooo. Why would we do that? We're just gonna SHOVE you into this world and who CARES if you don't know the first thing about why ANYTHING is happening? Not us! You just read about these boring old characters, and their stupid lives, okay? Okay.
Returning to sanity by a hair's breadth again, Jared really impressed me in this sequel. Where I adored him in the last book, in this one I was truly taken aback and astounded by him. He impressed me in more ways than I can say, and he played a key role in things between Sapphique and Incarceron as well. In a sense, they became my trio for this book, my shining light to look to and that still captured my heart, while the idle issues of everyone else were--in afterthought--nothing more than the regular drama that happens anywhere.
In the end, the sequel I feel came out a bit on the brighter side of the two books in this duology. It had a bit more of a streamlined feeling to the chaos that still tended to run amok. And while it didn't give up on surprising you with out-of-the-blue changes, plot twists, and more, they were actually more effective this time around since I either, 1. Got used to the situation enough from the first book to not question certain things, or 2. Focusing much less on the things Inside Incarceron made it easier to keep track of what was happening, since--let's face it--Inside Incarceron is the only place in the world where you NEVER know what's going to happen next. Nothing is guaranteed. At all.
I think this book did a successful job of wrapping things up, even if I also feel it didn't satisfy my need to answers in detail and in full. Mostly my questions about Sapphique and Incarceron itself, yet again. What is the Key that unlocks the heart? Why are so many great questions that they ask in this book never explained? It drives me nuts, because I really, really love Incarceron and Sapphique and yet I still feel like I know so little and I have so much to ask, and now I'm never going to know. It's over and I'm just going to never know. It's horrible, but maybe only if you're as dead-set on those two as I am. The rest actually cleans up quite nicely.
If you read the first book at all and are wondering if you should read the second, I would say: Yes. Read the second book. It's not a bad story, and everything comes off a lot more streamlined, as I said. Whatever chaotic lack of coordination you had in the first book has become a little more sane--unless you've just become more insane from the reading, which I wouldn't altogether question; I doubt I'm personally unaffected by it in my own special way.
It's a good duology, and if you like technology, era pieces, dystopian universes, mystery and adventure, medieval and steampunk--this is something you should at least give a shot and check out. Incarceron and Sapphique are both truly unique books, if nothing else. You should see them through to the end. Library it, and then make your choice. At the very least, it'll widen your horizons in ways you might never expect.