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Honestly, I'm a bit conflicted about this book. On one hand, it had some excellent character development, with villains that angered me in a good way (nearly making me want to chuck my Nook at the nearest wall), and some sweet action. On the other hand, the story sagged a LOT half of the time, and I just was not interested at those momements. The characters and dialogue did not live up to snuff in that half of the book I disliked. Also there was a bit of stereotyping which I hated. But I do like the story overall, and like I said, great character development, with allegories to racism, in general using imperialism, etc.
Col was a decent character. I liked how he developed from a sheltered, self-superior kid to a more mature, kick ass revolutionizer who stands up for what he believes in and won't back down. I loved seeing this world from his eyes, although I do admit her personality overall was pretty bland. Also, his side of the romance felt too quickly developed. I mean he went from being totally disgusted by Riff to liking her to loving her EXTREMELY quick in my opinion. I know that love can happen and develop quickly, like I said in my review of The Statisical Probablility of Love at First Sight, but that relationship had wonderful development, despite the time frame. Col's romantic timeline felt like whiplash. Then there's Riff. I loved Riff. She was kick ass, funny and snarky, yet had a sweet side to her. She is definitely a character you root for, wanting her to succeed and kick more butt. I wonder what would happen if this book was told from Riff's point of view. It would definitely have been interesting. Now onto Col's sister, Gillabeth. Ugh, remember that stereotyping I mentioned earlier? Well she is it, she's that stereotype I hated in this book. I won't go into spoilers, but her whole character, her actions and motivations bothered the hell out of me. She felt like a stick in villain, that's all I'll say about her. I did really like Septimus a lot, he was wonderful and I wish he was in this book more than he was. The villains, other than Gillabeth, were completely interesting and touched a nerve in me that made me want to join Riff and Col in their quest.
I feel like Mr. Harland has a mish-mash style of writing. On one hand, he knows how to build his world, and fill it with interesting fact/details that bring you in. He knows how to write, for the most part, great characters and give them good growth. On the other hand, it felt like he wasn't even trying with some characters and plotlines, and just stuck them in there to pad out the novel. That was just a shame. I know there's a sequel, Liberator, but I doubt I'll read it, because despite the good parts, the bad parts far outweighed this time :(