Plot: 4/5 World Building: 5/4 Characters: 4/5 Entertainment: 4/5 Writing: 4/5
Scarlet and Asher thought they were finally on their way to a normal life since they had put the black market auctions behind them—well, as normal as life among pirates can be—but when one of their old crew members calls for help over the radio, they and the rest of their team are thrown into danger once again. With only a few clues to guide them, they must rescue their friend and get back to Columbus before things get worse and maybe, if they have time, Scarlet and Asher can finally figure out what they mean to each other.
Everything that was great about Moonchild is just as great in Liberation, if not more so since we get to explore more of the world. The universe is multidimensional and complex, the story is engaging and has plenty of twists and turns, and it has plenty of action, maturity, and lightheartedness in equal measure, making it as much of a rare gem in the foggy realm between YA and NA as its predecessor.
It still blows my mind that the steampunk-dysptopia idea works. The two are perfectly balanced, creating a world that feels as vintage as it does new and dangerous, standing out as something creative and original in both genres. Also, did I mention last time how much I want these girls’ outfits? Because I do. All of them. I love Kate L. Mary’s attention to what people wear in this world. It works to make the world all the more vivid while also giving glimpses of the characters’ personalities without them saying a word, which is always great.
Unfortunately, just like Moonchild, Scarlet is Liberation’s biggest problem. Between her rivalry with another female character and her rather unfounded belief that there’s something wrong with her due to her past, her inner turmoil quickly became more annoying than sympathetic. She runs with pirates. They ALL have rough pasts and some are quite a bit darker than hers, so I really never understood where she was coming from. I don’t want to give anything away because I do still think both books are worth reading, but her angst makes it hard to root for her and Asher as a couple, especially since Asher is such an interesting and well developed character. If the focus had been exclusively on her need for independence, I think she would have been a stronger, more sympathetic character, but as is, she falls flat.
Fortunately, the rest of the cast is great, just like last time. They’re all easy to cheer for, memorable—even the ones new to the scene—and feel worth worrying about, so it’s easy enough to focus on them instead of Scarlet. I read once that every supporting character should think the book is about them and Kate L. Mary pulls that off beautifully here.
So, if you’re a fan of steampunk, dystopia, both, or you’re just looking for something new and exciting, hop aboard a coal-powered airship for a while and check out both Moonchild and Liberation.