The first thing you should know is this story is not a direct sequel. It is instead, and I much prefer it this way, a connected sequel. Basically you get the same universe, a new story related to the first and new main characters. (For other series that do this really well check out Red Wall and the Chronicles of Narnia for Middle Grade readers. I'm not aware of any other good ones so if you know one let me know in the comments below). For this fact alone I must applaud these two talented authors. In a world filled with three and seven book "cycles" all featuring the same characters, and in most cases the same story over and over again (*cough* Hunger Games *cough*) simply going against the norm and the formula of "success" is worthy of praise.
It works nicely for the story too.
Now for those who haven't read the first book (and you should. It is sooooo good.), don't be thrown off by the rather silly cover. There is very little gazing to a point and angstilly reaching as clothing spontaneously falls from the characters god-like bodies. In fact, there is none of that. It's an adventure/science fiction story with elements of military fiction and romance sprinkled in there. It follows the hardened soldier Jubilee and a rebel leader Flynn as they try to solve the problems of the swamp world of Avon (mentioned several times in the first book).
This leads to one of the three shortcomings--if you can call them that. First, the character relationship theme is the same as These Broken Stars. Two people from different social worlds who initially don't like each other, but learn to work together and then fall in love. I understand why they wrote it this way. It makes for easy conflict but it's not the most creative.
Second, the final solution to Avon's problems is almost identical to the end game of These Broken Stars. Combined with the repeated character theme this shows a flagging in creativity that is often seen in sequels. I can only hope that the third novel improves rather than following the same formulas
Third, the language doesn't have the same beauty of the first book until the latter half of the novel. Perhaps it was done purposely to show the grimness of the situation, or perhaps it was the writers simply getting their literary stride so to speak. Compared to other books, it's hardly a shortcoming but I thought I'd point it out.
What to know: There is a healthy dose of violence and some gore. A few curse words are scattered in there but nothing a PG movie would shy away from. There is an implication of sex but consists of little more than mentions of someone once being a lover. There are also several minor characters with same-sex relationships that extremely conservative readers might find off putting. I was quite pleased that the main characters don't jump into bed in the middle of all the danger and drama they're caught up in. It's so much more realistic than shoehorning sex in between life-or-death situations.
Over all it's a great book. The characters are interesting, realistic and compelling. The plot grabs you and the writing is just beautiful in some places. I'm really looking forward to reading the next. If you're a fan of Firefly, Star Wars or the new Battle Star Galactica consider giving this series a read and you won't be disappointed.