The Brink of Darkness by Jeff Giles (Edge of Everything #2)

the brink of darkness.jpgTitle: The Brink of Darkness
Author: Jeff Giles
Genre: Young Adult, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy.
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 1st August 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Price: $16.99
Synopsis: Things have changed for seventeen-year-old Zoe ever since the dramatic events that brought her together with the mysterious X. In order to save Zoe and her family, X did the unthinkable – he traded their freedom in exchange for his captivity in the Lowlands forever.

But being back in the Lowlands has its advantages. It gives X the chance to discover his past, which could be the key to breaking the Lords’ hold on him forever. Little does X know that Zoe has her own plan to reunite with him . . . one that risks her life and brings her perilously close to losing all that she and X are fighting for.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic continuation of Jeff Giles’ series–which already has rave reviews from Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson and New York Times bestselling author James Dashner, among numerous others–will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

~*~

X is back in the Lowlands, after trading the freedom of Zoe’s family to live in captivity forever. In Zoe’s world, she must grapple with the death of neighbours, and living with Rufus, who is involved with her mother, as well as protecting her brother Jonah, and hiding X and his secret from her friends, Val and Dallas. Until the three friends are confronted by an angry hunter, and Ripper comes to their rescue, and the story of X and the Lowlands is revealed. From there, Zoe must find a way to help Ripper on her quest, and rescue X from the Lowlands, as well as maintaining her family’s safety and not revealing the truth to them if she can help it. Over several weeks, Zoe will assist Ripper on her quest, and together with Regent, they will help X find his mother and overthrow Dervish, who has been trying to control the Lowlands. But whether Zoe and X will come out unscathed, will be another piece of the puzzle all together.

This follow up to The Edge of Everything, published in February last year, picks up shortly after the death of Zoe’s neighbours and Z’s condemnation to the Lowlands. This follow up feels more X focussed, where he’s on a quest to try and free himself of the Lowlands, and keep Zoe safe, and also, find out where he came from and who his parents are. Through this journey, Ripper, Regent and Zoe help X, whose life has only ever been the Lowlands, until he met Zoe. Whilst Zoe and X are in love, the drive for X to find out who his mother is drives the narrative more as he searches for a sense of self.

The other important relationships are between Zoe and her brother, Jonah, who is always there for his sister, and Zoe and her friends, Val and Dallas, whose presence in Zoe’s life give her some grounding, yet at the same time, is something she pulls against and tries to resist, especially towards the end. It is slightly darker than the last book, however, not overly.

Much like The Edge of Everything, The Brink of Darkness has light and hope as well as darkness and devastation, tying into the themes of life and death, and love in all its forms that permeate the novel. It is filled with family and friends, conflict and resolution, and the fights that families have and then forget when it looks as though the worst may have happened, but they all come together in the end.

The Brink of Darkness read like it wrapped up everything that happened in both this book and the first book, The Edge of Everything, where everything felt settled and tidy, yet with a fairly open ending to imagine what happens next. Throughout the novel there is a sense of unease or foreboding that something nasty is going to happen, but this adds to the suspense and mystery surrounding Zoe and X. Jonah is adorable, and always optimistic – again, my favourite character in the book. Overall, this was enjoyable to read and those eager to find out what happens will not be disappointed.

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The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

Title: The Edge of Everything

Author: Jeff Gilesedge-of-everything

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 1st February 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 360

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shocking death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying subzero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for them both.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic start to a new series will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

~*~

The Edge of Everything opens with an anonymous observation of Zoe, who gives the character she shares the spotlight with his name: X. X is a bounty hunter from the Lowlands, sent to collect souls of those who are deemed to be a threat to innocent people, and who need to be punished, and are made to relive the horrors that have brought this fate upon them. But when X meets Zoe and her younger brother Jonah, and rescues them from freezing to death, he begins to form a bond with both of them – and becomes a part of their lives, and starts to find his feelings for Zoe changing him and what he wants out of life, and forging a desire to leave the Lowlands. X and Zoe forge a relationship, slowly, and perhaps a little awkwardly – it is not the focus of the novel, though. Rather, it is a dual storyline, where each character’s point of view is shown in alternating sections.

Zoe’s close relationship with her younger brother Jonah drives the narrative too. For me, this was the most important relationship – the love of the siblings – and how the sudden death of their father becomes the driving force behind the novel. Zoe is determined to find out what really happened, and with the help of X, a strange bounty hunter from the Lowlands, which is run by lords who punish the innocent for fun, they embark on a journey, along with two souls X knows from the Lowlands, to find out the truth.

There are moments of darkness, and of light, of hope, and devastation, and the final chapters had me holding my breath, hoping everything would be okay. The power within these pages is the characters are all flawed, all hurting in some way, and despite this, they are strong. They are real, or in X and Ripper’s case, as real as they can be in urban fantasy, an intriguing genre that situates fantasy elements within an urban environment to tell a story. Jeff Giles has excelled at this.

I hope that there is more to the story. Upon completion, I felt there could be, and the cliffhanger was neither negative nor tragic – but hovered somewhere between hope and sadness. It is aimed at ages twelve and up, but I feel can be read by anyone who wishes to. It is the kind of novel that creeps under your skin and leaves you wondering – what next?

Looking forward to more about Zoe and X – and Jonah, my favourite character.

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