After I finished my review of Deathless Divide, I went back and read Sam @The Writerly Way’s review because we loosely did a buddy read of Deathless Divide. As in much as we read it at the same time and then screamed at each other via Twitter DMs. Please check out her review as it hits on notes I did not. Although we did both use the same exact quote from Katherine Like whaaaa…. then our recent bonding over Weekend Update- plus she’s been living in my head, gargoyles and all… so now I figure we are full on blogging bromance like…
But her review is just more succinct and lovely in ways mine could never be and so please go read it…
There are so many things about Deathless Divide’s brilliance that are not my voice, my lane or my position to speak. And so I won’t. I will stick to my lane and speak to the story. This is not out of recognition or acknowledgement but out of respect of the voices and communities that have the authority to be heard and should be given the space to do so.
A Word On Dread Nation (There will be spoilers for Dread Nation Only)
I read Dread Nation, loved Dread Nation, long before my site came into existence and therefore never formally reviewed it. I have mentioned it in tags. One of those tags is linked. However, there isn’t a formal review anywhere. Needless to say, it blew me away.
Rarely does a sequel match its predecessor. I will say this now. Deathless Divide didn’t just match Dread Nation. It is not only better than Dread Nation, but in furthering the story and characters, it has made Dread Nation a better book, which I could not fathom a possibility.
This will be a short review. Why? Glad you asked. There is a very early turn of events at which point, you just can’t say much of, well… anything without spoiling much, of well… everything. And so it is hard to go on. I definitely don’t want to spoil anything in Deathless Divide. It doesn’t deserve such horrendous treatment. So this will be shorter than most reviews, especially considering how near and dear I hold this duology (right now duology- it could go either way, but there is no official word and the end- generally speaking- no spoilers- could serve either purpose). Having said all that, this will go fast.
When An Author Gives You Something You Didn’t Know You Needed
Katherine’s point of view. I wasn’t sure what to do with this, at first. I didn’t know if I wanted this. But lord help me when she said
I know this is a sin. But there are few things I enjoy more than being right. I have been praying to the Lord to be a bit more humble. He just has not seen fit to show me the way as of yet.
And then much later when she looks at Jane and says…
I have questions.
I cackled so loud the cats ran from the room. Okay. That isn’t the full quote but I can’t say anymore. Because. Spoilers. But still. The only thing that could have been better is I haz questions but in context of the time period, and Katherine’s demeanor, that would not have made sense. But still. I WAS DEAD.
Ireland was spot on with Katherine’s point of view from beginning to end. And yes, in Dread nation watching Jane and Katherine being forced to work together was priceless? Having Katherine’s point of view made it even more so. Seeing Jane through Katherine’s eyes pushed both character arcs forward. I don’t know if I’ve seen one character arc push another’s forward but Ireland is just that damn good.
The ferocity of her devotion to Jane is overwhelming and devastating. The tug of war between Katherine wanting to save Jane from herself and Jane’s willingness to discard Katherine like trash, is something anyone who has been in that position can easily relate to and it will crack your heart page after page, word after word. Without Katherine’s point of view? I don’t know that readers get that crashing impact.
Jane. You know. At what point do you go from begging a character to just stop? Pleading with them out of love to turn around because you know where this all leads (to clarify- not because the story is predictable but because humanity and how the world spins on its axis is) to just pure frustration?
I wrestled with this at points. I love Jane. God I wanted to kill for Jane and I wanted Jane to kill the living and the dead by the end of Dread Nation. I would have killed the living and the Dead for Jane by the end of Dread Nation while she went on a shopping spree. I had, had it with the whole lot of boils on the ass of society that she was dealing with.
And for most of Dread Nation man, I was with that girl. I was. Then there were times I just. I just was tired. Redfern said it to her. And truthfully, maybe because I connected with what he said on a personal note, because I know I can be this way? Maybe that is why I felt this to my core…
No, Jane, listen. You’re so damn impatient you won’t even listen to the lesson long enough to properly ignore it.
And its true. And it turns so many that love her, are willing to love her and stand by her, against her. They walk away. They try. Through her faults, her need for vengeance, which is tearing apart every piece of her. Despite not learning from her mistakes or willingness to let it go for something better. She is losing the best of herself and she just won’t stop. And at some point is there anything left to root for? There are times where I just even had, had enough.
There were times where I thought this has to be it. She has to have let it go for a better something and no. She went ahead and crossed that line. And it broke my heart every god damn time.
Character Imperfections And All
Despite Katherine and Jane’s imperfections Ireland balances them against each other with a well developed side cast of characters. There are many that return from Dread Nation. Some continue on the character arcs that started and some unexpected hard turns. Can’t say which, but lord knows I didn’t see some of those coming. Some relationships develop that are both unexpected and bring a sense of love, regret and what could have been.
All together they are a complex group of characters living in a brutal and complex world. While there are a few strictly evil characters. Most aren’t cut and dry on either side. Everyone has their agendas. Everyone has their good, bad and downright ugly sides. It is what makes them human, makes you relate to them and makes you want to spend time with them.
This may make you think Deathless Divide is a character driven story and with Katherine and Jane it almost is character driven. However, I would argue that the plot of a zombie apocalypse, the multitude of underlying social construct themes and story elements argue otherwise. Jane and Katherine aren’t the only characters with story lines and they all weave together, come apart and at times find their way back again.
If you don’t have a strongly driven plot, all these characters and their stories have no aim and no way back together. It would all just fall apart like an unwoven quilt. Ireland does a wonderful job bringing together strong characters, achingly intricate plots and themes that are crucial to the world we live in. It takes Dread Nation and builds upon it, in a way that makes you want to go back and start all over again. Just so you can see the full picture, the entire ARC in one swoop.
FINE. I thought this would be short. It is about average, though.