We killed all independent planets outside house borders by extracting fuel from their cores. And once we burn through all the garnered energy, where do we think the next batch will come from? Right now, planets on the Brink are rationed down to five hours of energy a day, while here we gawk at nonstop ad-screens and control the temperature outside.
House Galton has a rebellion on its hands: citizens from independent planets want revenge on Galton’s empire for destroying their planets to steal energy for wasteful consumption. Unfortunately for Kreslyn “Kit” Franks, the Enactors think she’s involved in the rebellion. But unlike Kit’s mother, a terrorist who blew up the nation’s digital core, Kit herself was never involved in the rebellion. She just wants to survive the fallout. That becomes more difficult as her mother’s terrorism continues, and everyone looks to Kit for a solution she doesn’t have…or does she? YA Sci-Fi, Romance. Will be published December 6, 2016. Thanks to Tessa Elwood, Running Press & Netgalley for providing me with an eARC of Split the Sun.
That sounds like a cool premise, right?
What I Liked:
(1) The cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?
(2) The worldbuilding of book II was much improved over book I; although there was less emphasis on politics, until the very end, the author brings some texture to the blank slate of book I’s intergalactic milieu. (3) The premise. It’s a cool idea.
The premise was buried in distractions and I spent most of the first 70% trying and failing to decipher a plot line. I didn’t understand, for most of the book, that the real conflict came from energy politics.
Most of the conflict appeared to come from two places: Kit’s family dispute over the basic essentials of living off the streets—money, housing and drugs; and the romantic tension between her and Niles, a mysterious neighbor boy who won’t leave her alone, even as Kit says (over and over again) that she wants him to. Neither of these conflicts was very interesting and I couldn’t decipher the plot through their distractions. As a result, I was bored, confused and irritated throughout most of the book.
Let’s talk about Kit, for a minute. I liked her, at times. Case in point, her snark, exemplified here in her description of her apartment building:
“I swear something died in the elevators once, and you can always spot visitors by who hits the call button.”
She’s a tough, scrappy girl, eking out a living and caring for a thankless family. Her humor adds lightness to the heavy setting and tension.
But I didn’t enjoy being in her head. Her prickly, dark personality makes her difficult to get along with, even for the kind people in her life (few and far between though they are). Here’s a normal conversation between Niles and Kit:
“‘So, how are your feet?’ ‘None of your business.’ ‘Are you bleeding anywhere else?’ ‘Why do you care?’ ‘Just making conversation.’ ‘Don’t.’”
Can you guess which one is Kit?
I also found myself bored, reading from her perspective. In her plot arc, she’s a constant victim of other people’s avarice, instead of a proactive agent for positive change (like Asa Fane was, in book I, Inherit the Stars). During the first 70%, Kit doesn’t engage the real problem of the book—she avoids it; and it’s hard to root for her, if she’s not working on the problem and illuminating the clues for the reader.
I think the author withheld secrets (like the purpose of Kit’s mother’s terrorism) to keep readers wondering, in suspense, “Who is really the antagonist, here? Kit’s mom? The gang of goony kids who chase Kit around the city? [Highlight to read spoiler: The author doesn’t reveal until much later that these are the energy rebels.] The Enactors?”
Unfortunately, the lack of information left me in confusion, not in suspense. Kit wasn’t chasing “other” bad guys who turned out to be benign, or something like that; she was just trying to survive, which was completely unrelated to the real plot. As a result, her actions during the first 70% felt inconsequential and the pace felt like it dragged.
The last 30% of the book was a marked improvement, in my reading experience. All of a sudden, clues were making sense and I was much less frustrated. One of my favorite moments in the book was discovering the true identity of the philosopher Gilken.
But this book had so many problems, I would have DNFd it, if it wasn’t my very first Netgalley arc: I didn’t get the answers I was hoping for, after the cliff-hanger of book I; the prose didn’t improve much, if at all; and this sequel lacked the speed, tension and drive of book I.
Book I, with its quick pacing, complex milieu politics and proactive, sympathetic protagonists might still be worth reading, since these books are standalones; but I recommend skipping book II.