In this fast-paced sequel to The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, Ashala and her friends face a new danger from the least expected source - one of their own. After a daring raid on Detention Center 3 to rescue their trapped peers, Ashala Wolf and her Tribe of fellow Illegals - children with powerful and inexplicable abilities - are once again entrenched in their safe haven, the Firstwood. Existing in alliance with the ancient trees and the giant intelligent lizards known as saurs, the young people of the Tribe do their best to survive and hide. But the new peace is fractured when Ashala's friend Ember Crow goes missing, leaving only a cryptic message behind. Ember claims to be harboring terrible secrets about her past that could be a threat to the Tribe and all Illegals. Ashala and her boyfriend, Connor, spring into action, but with Ashala's Sleepwalking ability functioning erratically and unknown enemies lying in wait, leaving the Firstwood is a dangerous proposition. Can Ashala and Connor protect the Tribe and bring Ember home, or must they abandon one to save the other?
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The previous book was a YA Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal Dystopia. This one has something for the SF lover as well.
BOOK DETAILS: The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina, read by Cara Gee, published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio (2016) / Length: 9 hrs 35 min
SERIES INFO: This is Book #2 of 3 in "The Tribe" trilogy. Book #3, The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, has already been published in Australia, but no U.S. publication date has yet been announced.
**This review contains spoilers for the previous book.**
SUMMARY: I didn't rate this one as high as the previous one (which got 5*) because I felt like it took a while to get started. (And possibly because I was a bit sad to see conflict between Ashala & Connor, although I believe it was realistic and well handled.)
I liked the cover of this one better than the last one, although the just showing one eye theme means we don't get to see Ember's mismatched eyes.
This is another instance in which Audible placed a YA books in the 11-13 age category. I'm not sure what's up with that.
I tagged this one with Diversity, since it features an Australian Aboriginal character & beliefs and is written by an #ownvoices author.
CHARACTERS: Ashala & Connor: There were so many things I wanted to say about this relationship in my review of the first book, but couldn't since they were all spoilers. One of those things was the fact that this was a case of semi-Instalove that I didn't mind. I believe that Connor was already half in love with Ashala before they ever met, due to having carefully studied her file. Then when Ashala actually shared his memories, she developed feelings for him. Her acceptance of him into the Tribe in such an intimate way (being willing to share a memory of her own), sealed it for him. (Going back and finding the evidence of their true relationship is a joy.)
In this book, Connor is growing and changing; and like any good partner, he helps Ashala do so as well. Although I hate to see conflict, I love the way Connor stands up for what he needs and for equality of expectations & risk. (I'm not one of those people who thinks that true love means doing anything for and taking anything from the other person. A healthy relationship requires communication and boundaries, and we get to see that here.)
Ember Crow: The fact that Ember has secrets is a central point of the book, so I don't think it is a spoiler to say I could never have seen this twist coming when I started, wow. Yet it all remains consistent with what has come before.
Georgie & Daniel - I am guessing that they are going to become a couple in the next book. It will be nice to learn more about 2 people who have been so important to the survival of the Tribe. / Jules - I am anticipating seeing more of him and how he might change & grow in the next book.
WORLDBUILDING: We get to see more of the world in this one. Ember visits Fern City, which is a city constantly battling being taken over by the jungle. And a good portion of the book takes place in Spinifex City, where everyone is obsessed with a local drink but otherwise very laid back for this world. We also learn some very important things about about how the current dystopian state of their society developed.
PLOT: As I said in the Summary, I felt like this one got off to a bit of a slow start. It wasn't until Ashala got a message that there was finally news from Ember that things started to take off.
Flashbacks through shared memories continue to be an important part of the narrative, and so this book isn't straightforward or chronological.
The previous book ended with the feeling that, although they hadn't changed the world, they had reached a stopping point. This one has a cliffhanger. The ending is nice, and some personal stuff is resolved, but there is a lot hanging over their head.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
--Nicky --Although it isn't pointed out directly, there were a couple of instances where I felt like Ember was emulating Ashala's best qualities --Jeremy Duoro (a normal human fighting for Illegals' rights) - I didn't get much of a feel for him in the last book, but the scenes related to him in this one were some of the best.
OTHER CAUTIONS(?): There are some hints of intimacy between certain characters. / One character is still mourning his deceased male lover.
NARRATION: Note: I am not sure how fair a review of the narrator this is. I really liked Candice Moll's narration of the first book, especially the Australian accent. Plus I very rarely like it when they change narrators mid-way. It would have been different if the majority of the book had been from Ember's POV, thus making it logical to have a different reader. But the central character is still Ashala.
Character voices differentiated = Only "sort of" / Opposite sex voices acceptable = just barely, I wasn't fond of Connor's voice at all / Accents good = Not applicable / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = Slow; I listened on 1.5 instead of my usual 1.25