by Samantha Durante
Series: Stitch Trilogy #2
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It's only been three days, and already everything is different. Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa's life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she'd counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she'd thought she'd tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she's discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood. And then there are the visions. The memory-altering "stitch" unlocked something in Alessa's mind, and now she can't shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers - and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world's sorry history - will soon leave Alessa reeling...
Last year I enjoyed Stitch the first book in the Stitch Trilogy and was anxious to discover what was happening in this strange dystopian world. Samantha Durante’s second book Shudder shows us the world beyond the walls of Paragon, and the engineers that designed Paragon. She does this all while revealing things that kept me turning the pages. Three word review: fascinating, suspenseful and enlightening.
The tale picks up right after Stitch ended as Alessa and Isaac travel the world beyond Paragon looking for a headquarters for the rebels. There is danger and something supernatural pursuing them. As they search Alessa experiences emotions and memories of the dead and the creatures that pursue them. Lizzie is taken captive by the Engineers and we gain insight into their operations. Told from multiple third person perspectives that change with each chapter Durante reveals the characters and the engineers to us creating a suspenseful and fascinating read.
Alessa struggles in this novel with her emotions, the visions and the mission. Memories of Joe haunt her and she is unsure why, she loved him but loves Isaac. I like Alessa and find her to be brave and fearless even if she occasionally wants to escape her grueling reality. Isaac is sweet, and does things to protect both Alessa and his family. Phoenix is brave and through her we learn more about the engineers, the past and Paragon. We meet #14 and #15 as they exchange notes through a hole in the prison cells and learn their identity towards the end of the book. While the driving force of this tale is the world itself, I would still like to see the characters fleshed out a bit more. I wasn’t as emotionally invested in them this time around. I thought once they became unstitched I would feel more. The engineers *shiver* are diabolic and we are often privy to their plans. We see many of the original rebels and I am hoping they become more fleshed out in book three. I struggled with some of the characters behavior but the author slowly reveals information explaining it and I am anxious to see what develops.
While Shudder didn’t suffer from middle book doldrums it didn’t have quite the captivating affect that book one had on me. The author uses Alessa and Isaac in the beginning to recap events from book one through conversation and sadly it felt awkward. Once we got past that bit their conversations and connection felt more natural. While it is not the main focus, we see growth in the romance, despite a few hiccups. We have a several story-lines running parallel to each other. The first is Alessa and Isaac as they travel outside Paragon. The second is Phoenix with the engineers and the third is the prisoners in the cells below Paragon. Each thread was interesting and gave us tremendous insight into the world while still maintaining an air of mystery and suspense. I actually like the way this was done, it kept things suspenseful. The tale moved at an even clip until the final chapters where I found myself turning the pages at a frantic pace as all of the threads came together and we moved to the climatic ending. We as the reader are now privy to things the Rebels do not know and the set up for book three created suspense and anticipation. With its powerful world-building this tale has me excited to read the conclusion of this trilogy.
Fans of Stitch will find the world-building and events in Shudder fascinating. I would recommend the Stitch Trilogy to fans of dystopian novels with a science-fiction edge to it. Stuck the final book is scheduled to release in 2014.