Fuck it, five stars.
It's getting increasingly difficult to write coherent reviews for these books, because they are books in a series that arc to some unknown-to-me conclusion. They are not one-offs or slow-builds, where the story resets at the end of the episode and everyone freeze-frames on a laugh in the break-room. No. I was irritated with the last installment - all that waiting, all that breath-holding and exposition, and while I gussied up my irritation in some talk about the construction of the novel, I'm beginning to think that might have been an overly thinky gloss on an emotional reaction. I don't like waiting. I like when shit happens. And holy wow does shit happen here. I read this curled in a blanket on the couch most of a Sunday afternoon, and it was the best.afternoon.ever.
I think I've probably written about this before, but The Empire Strikes Back is my most favoritest of the Star Wars movies, hands down. (I'm constitutionally a science fiction nerd, so that's the genre I'm going to fall back on for comparisons, even if Star Wars is only nominally science fiction.) Sure, both of these fictions end with bloody awful cliff-hangers (again!), but there's something about the incompleteness that rolls perfectly into the hard reveals and unwelcome understandings. It's hard to say now, because I was so young and I can't actually remember not having seen all three Star Wars movies - and, bitches, there are only three - but I wonder if my love of Empire isn't partially built on knowing how things turn out. In this odd case, the not knowing is perfect and essential in my enjoyment. I get this might be an insane personal tic.
I've been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to talk about the spoiler spoiler in the first part of the book, how Mac overcomes the spoiler spoiler, but I've got nothing. I guess I'll say this: spoiler spoiler. Sorry, really, I've got nothing. It's making me a little mad that I don't feel like I can talk about it, but there's something totally freaking interesting here about the unspeakable, the unwritable, trauma, recovery, and whatnot. Maybe I'm being squeamish. Whatever.
I'm sure I'd be a ton more cheesed off about the ending if I'd read this when it came out, hadn't heard from tons of booksters about the egregious cliffhangers, and had to wait a year or however long until the next installment. As it stands, I was horrified to discover that I'm 80 out of 83 holds at the library. Holy Cheez Its! I may have to pony up some cash like an addict to finish this series in a timely manner. Let's just hope the next installment doesn't have any freaking Ewoks in it.