Going rogue in an effort to rescue her kidnapped parents has cost Reagan Hillis her automatic ticket to the Training Academy. But becoming a Black Angel is the only way Reagan will be able to exact revenge on her mother’s merciless killer, Santino Torres.
When Reagan is given a chance to prove that she’s worthy of training to be a Black Angel, she also gets the first chance she’s ever had to be her true self. No aliases. No disguises.
But when her friend Luke joins her at the Black Angels training compound, Reagan finds herself once again torn between the person she was and the person she wants to be. Reagan has to prove that she’s as good as her parents trained her to be, because she’ll never find Torres without the Black Angels’ help.
PUBLISHED ON 16 JANUARY 2018 BY SWOON READS
I really really really liked this. When I read the first book in the Black Angel Chronicles, You Don’t Know My Name, I was impressed but not blown. There were things that the first installment was missing but the second one nailed on every possible aspect.
The story starts off from where it was left. After the unfortunate ending of the first book, Reagan is no longer holding the ticket for a direct entry to the Black Angels and is now in line with 23 other aspirants in the run for the admission to the elite training academy. Along the ride, and as a consequence of the past events, Reagan is no longer the person she used to be. Shattered in a million pieces, her mind is clouded with only and only revenge for the serial killer, Torres. [Being the super awesome person I am, oh and modest too, I’m even avoiding spoilers for the first book in the series. You’re welcome!]
The plot is driven by the previous set up so it won’t be something I would go in detail, but I would certainly praise the plotting that was more vivid than the first one. The story, though still focusing on Reagan as an individual, isn’t confined to only her teenage conflicts but also adds the thrill and action I was missing in You Don’t Know Me. Majority of the story takes place in the training area and includes practical drills to train and test the wannabe Black Angels. This resulted in a number of sitting-by-the-edge-in-anticipation moments when I felt something’s going to go probably wrong.
Speaking of the thriller aspect, I think the pacing and writing was equally responsible for the great delivery. Not even once, in the span of almost 300 pages, did I feel uninterested—and that says a lot since fast-pacing is almost always my issue with most stories. The descriptive writing that felt frustratingly repetitive to me in the first book, was a bliss this time around; everything was laid out in a clean but detailed manner that drew me in. The way Reagan feels, torn and grieved, is beautifully sad to read with frequent self-accusations and angry retorts she would fire. The second book isn’t all unicorns—far from it—and the writing perfectly blends with the cold aura that’s set up.
The characters were something that didn’t excite me much in the first part, but again, the sequel won my heart in this respect too. Everyone that’s featured in the length of the novel plays a role, directly or indirectly, linked to Reagan and leaves their mark discreetly. Anusha (brownie points for an Indian name, yay!) and Cam take their own spotlights for the Black Angel aspirants they were. While they have their own stories, they support Reagan through her tough times when she’s low in all ways. They’re those humanized characters who don’t worry about the competition and instead bother about genuine friendships, and I love them for that.
This time, though, I won’t just give an honorable mention to Luke because he was a well-developed love interest that doesn’t just kiss Reagan (though I loved the teeny tiny bit of kissing they did) or flaunt his dimples all the time. He makes sacrifices, uses his mind, listens to his heart, tries to convince Reagan about what’s right or wrong, and even when she doesn’t listen to him, he stands beside her for all the support he can give. Now, this right here is a book-boyfriend I’ll be gushing about from now on. His relationship with Reagan is another thing that made me so happy, because they’re evidently not in a relationship, but a label—or the absence of it—doesn’t stop one from helping the other. However, a few times, Reagan was a bit annoying with the way she refused to try understanding Luke or hear his perspective. I discern her sorrow but come on, is it bad to expect a tad bit more from a story (and character) you otherwise loved?
The thrill, aye! Toward the end, there wasn’t even a single second wasted or one that didn’t anchor the building climax. Things were unfolding quickly, giving me the furrowed eyebrows. There were villainous dialogues—the lack of which I was appreciating in the first book—but surprisingly, they were a pleasure here. While they do add a tinge of drama, I wasn’t flipping it off because there was an equal chance of a good and a bad wrap-up, and this intrigued me all the more. Speaking of the ending, can I have book 3 already? The way this one is suddenly, though satisfyingly, ended I don’t know what to expect from the next one because my expectations would be high if I had them.
Overall, I loved this one for the amazing sequel it was to a fine first installment, and would recommend this series to all those looking for a good conflict-driven YA thriller that would play with your emotions, leaving you wanting more.
I received a digital copy of this via a promotional blog tour and Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Swoon Reads, Xpresso Book Tours, and Kristen Orlando!
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