I predicted that this book was going to be really heavy after the way the first one ended, and I was not disappointed.
This book's focus was not so much on the love story between Karou and Akiva, but rather, the atrocities of the war between their peoples, and the parallels between them. The author does an excellent job of making this equivalent. Both peoples have leaders who would probably view Hitler as a font of ideas. Perhaps one could argue that they're too evil in that regard, but I think human history shows that such evil certainly exists and has throughout history.
I really liked the new characters that were introduced. I found Ziri charming, but the character who I really fell in love with was Liraz. I initially disliked her, but as the developed and her complexity became apparent, I found her totally captivating. I wanted to read more about her, and have found I really care about her. This makes me nervous, as a reader. I'm sorry to say, but I have bad luck with favorite characters, but I'll cross my fingers.
I still have the same issue with everybody being beautiful, like in the first book. There are a couple of spectacularly ugly exceptions, and those exceptions are also spectacularly evil as well. I really, really, desperately want to see a physically repulsive character who is also heroic and compassionate. I don't expect to find that in YA, for the most part.
I made it through this book very quickly. The story went in directions I really did not expect, and I can honestly say I have no idea what will happen in the next book, but I'm about to find out. After I look at some pictures of puppies to cheer myself up.