Now I Rise by Kiersten White – Releases June 27th – infinite stars. ALL OF THEM
**This review will contain minor spoilers throughout, with any major spoilers tagged.
This was even better than book one. In fact, in the months since I’ve read this book, it’s stuck with me so well that I think it’s one of my favorite books ever.
And I Darken was a well-written and developed book, but I had mixed feelings on the romance and wanted a bit more in the character department. I did not expect either aspect to improve. I definitely did not expect White to fix BOTH of my issues with book one. It’s not often a sequel can surpass my expectations so much, but this sequel is undeniably better than book one.
Now I Rise far surpasses book one in terms of character work. We got a real look at Radu, who I didn’t particularly care for in the first book. Here, though, he got an INCREDIBLE character arc. I am still reeling from this character arc. I cannot get over how much Radu has grown and changed and how much I LOVE HIM. Radu’s inner debate over which side truly deserves to win Constantinople really stands out throughout the book, in both his internal and external conflict. It’s incredibly difficult to write characters on both sides of the fence, but White executed it brilliantly.
Lada doesn’t get any less brutal during this book; in fact, she gets a little more brutal. Yet she’s not heartless; she has some very compelling relationship development with several side characters. The thing is, she just doesn’t have as far to go in terms of development.
There are some GREAT new side characters as well, from Nicolae to Nazira (my absolute wife) to Cyprian. The side characters really stood out here. None of them are one-dimensional; they all feel so REAL. Even my least favorite side characters never felt like plot devices. They’re all morally ambiguous and interesting.
There’s some great relationship development in this book, too. Lada and Radu and Mehmed’s relationships with each other are of course still significant, but the new relationships introduced really stand out. Nazira and Radu’s platonic relationship development is one of my favorite parts of this book. Their banter!! I loved the relationships between Lada and her many soldiers, as well as her relationship with a mentor she finds. But let’s be real here: there’s one romantic relationship which was the absolute crowning gem. They had so many heartbreaking moments and one of the most incredible slow build relationships I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. But don’t worry, this book focuses on romance even less than book one. Lada has so little romantic entity in her storyline. It was amazing.
The one issue with this book is that Lada’s actual plotline is slightly less entertaining in comparison to Radu’s. Part of this may be that Lada’s character had her initial character arc last book, while Radu’s character had almost all of his character arc in this book. Lada’s arc here is slightly more external, where Radu’s is both external and internal. It’s not much of an issue, though; Lada’s chapters would probably be my favorites in any other book. She’s still so effortlessly compelling if only through her character development.
This was truly an incredible book, and I can’t wait to see where the plot goes next.
I’d ask anyone who wants even more detail on this book to read Simona’s review, as I couldn’t agree more with everything she says.
Before I go, I wanted to give a mini shoutout to Kiersten White for guaranteeing that no lesbians will die in this series. It’s a really great guarantee to hear from an author in an environment where my immediate reaction to Nazira and Fatima’s existence is “they’re going to die, aren’t they”.