Thursday, September 4, 2014
ARC Review: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
Title: The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2)
Author: Sherry Thomas
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
I am still reeling from the aftermath of The Perilous Sea. With The Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas introduced us to a world of magic and destiny, one in which our protagonists--Titus and Iolanthe--had to battle the Bane, the deadly ruler of Atlantis. The Perilous Sea picks up shortly after The Burning Sky left off, only this time it is the end of the summer holidays and Titus, whisked away to princely duties in Atlantis, has not seen Iolanthe in months. Now, finally reunited, to two are determined to work harder, fight longer, and discover the secret to bringing down the Bane. Only, it seems fate--or rather the diary of Titus's late mother, a seer--has very different ideas...
From the beginning itself, The Perilous Sea sets itself apart from The Burning Sky due to its format. Thomas writes two different timelines simultaneously, meaning that every alternate chapter jumps between the present and the past catching up to the present moment. With cliffhanger endings concluding every chapter, it is practically impossible to set this book down once you've picked it up, not only because of the urge to discover the situation in the timeline you left behind, but also to figure out how our protagonists went from Point A to Point B.
Moreover, from the onset of this novel itself, it is clear that Thomas is choosing to focus on the age-old question of fantasy: can one truly make his or her own destiny? Very early on in The Perilous Sea a sequence of events plays out in such a way that Titus begins to doubt the veracity of his mother's prophecies. Or, at any rate, her interpretation of them. Thus, the lives and focus of both Titus and Iolanthe are upturned by these circumstances and the emotional turmoil they experience is simply heart-breaking. I love that despite the fact that we know both these protagonists so well from The Burning Sky, Thomas continues to challenge them, forcing them to become even better, stronger, and more confident versions of themselves. Additionally, these change of events cause The Perilous Sea to be far more romantic than we may have anticipated. In one timeline, circumstances allow for Iolanthe and Titus to fall in love all over again, albeit in a different way. In another timeline, Iolanthe and Titus must battle through their differences to find a way back to one another, despite the hurdles they themselves have erected in their paths. In both instances, it is abundantly clear once and for all that yes, these two truly do love each other and, above all, they are stronger together than apart.
The Perilous Sea continues to excel as a sequel, however, primarily because of the depth we gain about the secondary characters. I truly enjoyed the characterization of the secondary characters we met in The Burning Sky, particularly Titus's friends in Eton, but in The Perilous Sea we finally peel back the facades these boys put forth and discover the true individual beneath. The plot of The Perilous Sea is such that the secondary characters are just as important, this time around, as our two protagonists, so the depth they're given in this installment is a pleasant--and very welcome!--surprise. What's more, the Bane is finally unveiled for the true horror we are told he is. While we learn a little of this villain in the previous installment, The Perilous Sea travels deep into his past and--believe me--the atrocities he is capable of are cringe-worthy.
In fact, The Perilous Sea packs plot twist after plot twist, reveal after reveal, at such a breakneck pace that it is difficult to imagine what Thomas can possibly unveil further in the final installment. We receive answers about Iolanthe's past--everything from her origins to her memory keeper--speculate about Titus's parentage, and learn the minute secrets as to the true reality of Titus's mother's visions. It's such a spectacular sequel simply because we believe one thing to be true, only to find that it isn't what we thought it was. While this ensured that readers were constantly in a state of surprise, at times the narrative style of this novel became a detriment to the story as a whole. For me, at any rate, I didn't find both timelines to be completely necessary and, what's more, the fact that one timeline moved at a significantly slower pace than the other one, could be a bit jarring at times. Most importantly, though, I found the never-ending reveals to be pleasant--at first--but found myself needing slightly more detail or clarification than was provided. And, sadly, the political turmoil that marked The Burning Sky is mostly devoid in this novel as the focus is on overthrowing the Bane. I am hoping--and eagerly looking forward to--seeing more of Atlantis's political scheme in the sequel, along with the final battle that is looming ahead. The Perilous Sea is one of the strongest sequels I've come across this year and if Thomas continues to improve and build upon this series as she has, I do not doubt that the finale will be unforgettable.