These days it seems that everything is part of a series. Or to give them the name that the money men would prefer ‘franchises’… Most of the time I try and steer clear because I worry that life is too short to commit to a twelve book series. Or, at times of peak publishing when I want to read everything in the entire shop in a week, even a trilogy. Sometimes the premise sounds so good that I read the first one and then hate myself for not reading the rest. And really, really hope I never meet the author and have to admit to not finishing the series they worked so hard to complete. Who’d have thought a nice peaceful hobby like reading could get so fraught? Luckily there are some series which grip me so hard I just have to finish them. Harry Potter, obviously, Robin Jarvis’s Dancing Jax trilogy, the Silo trilogy by Hugh Howey and anything by Jasper Fforde (who has been too quiet lately, just saying). So I hope Francesca Haig is pleased to have made my ‘read the whole series’ list – mostly because her books are really good but also because I have already met her and she was totally lovely.
The first book in the series, the Fire Sermon, sets the scene in a post-apocalyptic world caused by a blast which initially stopped the survivors from producing any viable off-spring. Then, strangely, twin births started – but each set followed a pattern: fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, one a perfect Alpha the other an Omega with some form of mutation leading to deformities. I reviewed the first book here and this volume starts where the other left off with Omega seer Cass working with the resistance against the Council led by her twin Zack. Not too much more to say on the plot – it would be hard not to give spoilers away but I will say that the spectre of the technology which gave rise to the original blasts is in evidence.
The general theme of the story is still largely about the relationship – or maybe the lack of it – between twins. Alphas are perfect and this book explores how they, literally, try to bottle up and hide away their imperfections (i.e. their Omega half). Because we see the events almost entirely from the point of view of an Omega we can see that there is nothing inherently wrong with being flawed. Twins share pain as well as death and, for a few, this brings them closer as it leads to a deeper understanding of the other’s feelings. For others (on both sides) they at least feel they can make their twin suffer.
Because every act of rebellion which leads to death means that death is doubled. Cass is a force for the need for change and hope – and for most of this book it seems her visions are of a future which holds no change or hope for Omegas. Gradually she, and her colleagues in the resistance Piper and Zoe (a twin pairing who actually want to be together), discover secrets about the history of their world which could change their future.
One of the things I really enjoyed about reading this was the way it made me think of other books I have read and enjoyed. The taboo against the use of technology reminds me of Peter Dickinson’s Changes trilogy and the parts of the book set in the ARK, the underground silo from the time ‘Before’, had echoes of the Wool trilogy. Which makes me think that maybe I need to make more time in my life for the best trilogies…