The sequel to Dying for a Living, Dying by the Hour returns us to a world where death isn’t the handicap it used to be.
For those of you coming cold to Book 2 in a series, here’s the “Previously on Angel” sum-up.
- A significant percentage of the population don’t stay dead when they die.
- You don’t know it’s going to happen to you until it happens.
- If you’ve got this, it’s called “Necro Regenerative Disorder” and the term “disorder” should tell you everything you need to know about how it’s perceived by Joe Public.
- If you’ve got NRD, you can replace people at the point of death – literally dying for them. The officially licensed, US-Government-sanctioned people doing this are Death Replacement Agents.
- There’s a large, influential, and powerful church out to remove everyone with NRD as it’s against the wishes of God (and perfectly in line with the wishes of the head of the order).
- Certain individuals with NRD are more special than others…
Got that? Good.
Right. Always tricky coming to book 2 of a series when book 1 was so good. You’ve got to juggle the information you’re giving people who are new to the series with the information people coming straight from book 1 already know. You run the risk of having large chunks copy-pasted across. Simon R Green seems to feel the need to explain everything from chapter to chapter just in case you’d forgotten that “this is how things are… in the Nightside” from one page to the next. Jim Butcher goes a little overboard in explaining how magic works in the Dresdenverse in every new book. Kory gets the balance just about right.
Much of the “this is how NRD works” stuff is delivered in the form of a mandatory meeting all state employees have to attend. Yes, this was done in book 1 but it’s not an out-of-place infodump in this book. The rest is delivered piecemeal as the story needs it.
The whole thing does an excellent “this is book 2, let’s explore the world a little more” thing – more of the rules around death replacement are revealed, we meet the other factions out there vying for control, and we find out more about the Big Bad. It’s all delivered from the point of view of either Jesse (NRD) or Ally (assistant) and the two storylines weave around each other, moving swiftly to the climax. Nicely done, just as you’re getting somewhere with 1 character, you’re diverted to the other.
It’s not as self-contained as book 1 was. With book 1, there wasn’t a need for a sequel built in. Yes, it’s good to know there’s a sequel out there but it’s not essential reading. With book 2, it feels much more like a set-up for book 3. It’s half (or maybe 2/3) of a story that needs book 3 to complete it. Strings are dangled, questions are unanswered.
There’s elements I didn’t like in this one. One aspect of the storyline (trying to avoid spoilers here) is very like the TV show “Heroes” and I’m not sure how it will fit in with the wider world in book 3. Will have to wait and see.
The politics in the world Kory’s created are rather involving. I could picture articles in The Economist discussing some of the points raised and the laws being proposed in some US states regarding individuals with NRD.
Worth reading? Yes. Self-contained? No – go and read book 1 first, then this. Arguably, this book is “The Empire Strikes Back.” Our heroes achieved victory in the previous book because they were under-estimated. This time, they’re not so lucky. Yes, they win some, but they lose more. The game is changed.
Am I looking forward to the next one? Yes.
My copy was kindly provided by Kory in exchange for a review.