(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).
(This review may contain spoilers).
Although this book was the second one with these characters, I still found it really easy to follow… helped in part, I think, by the explanation at the beginning of the book; but the book came across as a self-contained story in its own right.
The concept of daydreaming yourself into another world is a really intriguing one. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to see much of the world itself, but I did find Zanzibar a really intriguing world. The cultural differences came across really well, particularly in how the Sultan had to handle himself with the people around him and how he seemed to be so desperate for a true friend, he latched onto the only person who didn’t seem to want anything from him.
I felt the politics came across really well in this book, but there were times I forgot what the point of them being in the world was. I also wasn’t really sure what to make of Kelly. Alex did screw up, but I kind of felt she’d been stringing him along at times.
I quite liked Alex as a character, at least for most of the book… I wasn’t so sure about the ending. I was a bit disappointed there wasn’t more of an effort made to save the rest of the people of Zanzibar, particularly the citizen who helped Will and Tanya.
I really didn’t like Henry as a character. He was irritating and really insensitive. Some of what he came out with might have been funny… but not constantly. I couldn’t really understand why Alex had become friends with him.
I was glad to see that there was an explanation for the language barrier and a way for Alex and his friends to communicate that made sense. However, there’s one mention of Alex’s translator adjusting the way he words things… but although that would be a useful tool, it’s never mentioned again through the book.
I liked the clash of different attitudes – such as Kelly’s opinion about slaves; Alex in the uncomfortable position of facing violence he isn’t used to. I also really liked the addition of the angels… in particular a specific archangel.
The world of Zanzibar felt more real to me than Alex’s world. I would like to read the book before this one… and it would be good to see where the characters go next; and if they can grow and mature as people as the book progresses.