Wow. Just, wow. This book is incredible.
Here is what I love the most: the politics and action of this book are extremely well-balanced with the characters. There are no compromises made here sacrificing the plot for the sake of the character development.
The plot has so many twists and turns that predicting what will happen is very difficult. I like to be surprised by a book, and this book doesn't just "not disappoint" - it flat out amazes. There are difficult decisions made by the main characters to do things they honestly don't know are the right thing; they just make their best guess and go for it. As a reader, I went right along, wondering if this was the right course of action. And because of this, I (as a reader) experienced each catastrophe as unexpectedly as the characters did.
The book alternates between points of view. As such, the pacing got a little tedious for me. I cared less and less about the politics and more about the action. But the politics were necessary for the story, so it wasn't that hard to put up with them. And things move along pretty quickly, so while one part might be tedious it quickly switched to action. My impatience was assuaged.
The characters deepen. Kira is a serious badass heroine! I love this character because she is so logical. She does get overwhelmed by fear and other emotions. But she continues to possess an uncanny ability to concentrate on the logical side of things and figures stuff out even while she's scared to death. Samm is steady as ever. I did love the fact that we get to see more facets of him as the story progressed. Afa is a nice addition to the cast, adding some color to the action. And Heron is the driven, frustrated meanie who, on the one hand, we love to hate while appreciating her realistic view of each situation.
Marcus and Haru are secondary but likable enough. Marcus, especially, really is revealed as a regular guy in extraordinary situations. He was the comic relief in Partials; here, he is less that and more of a wry commentary on the situation at hand. As a mediator, he is nothing if not entertaining.
The audio is narrated by Julia Whelan and is excellent.
I cannot wait for the final book in this series. If it contains even half of the action and suspense of this book, it will be nothing short of amazing.