I'm calling this one a solid 3.75 stars, rounding up to 4. It's definitely a "middle" book. But it's a good middle book, in that it both continues the story well and sets up the next book. No cliffhanger ending (THANK YOU [a:Veronica Rossi|4637369|Veronica Rossi|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1322861869p2/4637369.jpg]). I will definitely be reading the third book in this series.
The characters remain consistently solid, but show growth. Aria, in particular, has really matured in this story. She is older, more focused and has gone light years beyond the scared little girl she was in the first book. She's developed both her abilities and her fighting/survival skills. She's not a stupid girl doing stupid things. She has a quiet strength that I really, really like. If I had to endure the Aria of [b:Under the Never Sky|11594257|Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)|Veronica Rossi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356591725s/11594257.jpg|15093785] to get to this Aria, it was worth it.
Perry has also grown. This book is more of a cerebral journey of him rising up and becoming the leader of his people. He still seems a bit shaky to me, with all the loss he's endured. He seems grounded, but there is definitely a lot of turmoil he'll have to work through in the next book.
The secondary characters were good as well. I especially like Reef; he seems to serve as a solid father figure to Perri. And Roar and Liv - what a tragedy! I don't believe that Liv is dead. I think we're going to see a lot of she and Roar in the last book. Talon and Cinder serve their purposes, and I'm glad they don't take up any more of the action than they do. For them to just give purpose to the plot is enough.
And as for the plot, it's done pretty well. I think Rossi was going for a true emotionally draining experience here - and while I felt involved, I didn't feel drained. I wasn't tired after going through the adventure with all these characters. This is the reason I would define it so clearly as a "middle" book. It's good action, the plot is well-developed, things move along quickly and in a way that makes sense. And these are things that need to happen. But in the end, it's all a very good setup for the conclusion.
A very enjoyable setup, I have to say. And again, a huge thank you to [a:Veronica Rossi|4637369|Veronica Rossi|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1322861869p2/4637369.jpg] for 1-no love triangle, and 2-bringing Perri and Aria back together positively at the end. She has proven to be an author who cares about her readers and their emotional investment in her characters. Thank you for not leaving us hanging.
I definitely recommend this as a read you'll enjoy, especially if you've read [b:Under the Never Sky|11594257|Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)|Veronica Rossi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356591725s/11594257.jpg|15093785]. I can't wait for the last book.