5 star review

Review – Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Shard of Hope
by Nalini Singh

Note: This is not a standalone book and there are likely to be spoilers for previous books in the series.
At 14 books into a series, one would be forgiven for thinking things might have grown stale. But Nalini Singh is magic when it comes to both world building and characterization. She took a group of almost formless and what appeared at first glance to be homogeneous components in the Psy world, and then bit by bit is giving them back to us as a mosaic of individuals. And it is fascinating how she takes all these people who seemed as though they should have been the same, and gives us different people and different stories. Not just different plots and backstories, but different personalities and different needs and different responses to those needs. Not to denigrate those authors that keep telling the same story with only minor twists, because I think anyone who has read my past reviews can tell I haveĀ great love for those types of stories and those authors, and they have a significant place in my reading life. But this series is special to me for how very intricate and layered it is, and I had been worried that the fall of Silence and the resolution of the infection would cause it to stagnate. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

This book starts on an unexpected note with Aden and Zaira captured and cut off from everything they know. It opens their eyes (and the readers) to the machinations of a new threat. It also has the effect of putting them into a pressure cooker that lets us know them. Aden and Zaira’s bond though has been set since childhood, so they don’t need that opening to know one another, but Zaira did need this space out of normal time to break down some of her barriers. I think in many ways, Zaira is more of a kindred spirit to Kaleb than anyone. I expected to love Aden, everything I’d seen up till now pointed to a character I could adore, but Zaira just stole my heart with her wildness, fire, and feral avaricious heart.

There is also a new adversary, one that is subtle, devious, and complex. An adversary that seems to be have quietly and organically been growing out of sight until the time was ripe to strike. This adversary is no McGuffin, it makes sense in this world Singh has created. Whereas the humans, Psy, and changelings have all been seen building nascent bonds to deal with the fallout from the disintegration of Silence, less noble factions have just as naturally been created. One of the main themes in this series has been about balance and duality, so this development makes complete sense. A fanatical and one track enemy like Pure Psy was never going to be enough, the world was never going to stop there.

This is a very Arrow-centric book, so much time was spent on the changes Aden is making within the Arrow compound. But, this isn’t remotely happening in a vacuum, because that would have been precisely against the point. They are trying to live, not merely survive, but to thrive. So there is a ton of psychology and interaction happening. It is intricate, and messy, and emotional.

You pair all the Arrow stuff with all the maneuverings by the enemy, and there is a ton of stuff going on. And it makes a fascinating backdrop and foil for Aden and Zaira’s relationship. A relationship that broke my heart and gave me goosebumps and tears in turn. It was lovely and just perfect. I adore how Singh doesn’t neuter these men and women, or change them to fit into the romance hero or heroine molds. The characters always stay true to their established parameters, and the growth and change always feels like a logical extension of the situations they experience. And those experiences fit just as well into the world they live in. It is well-nigh seamless.

Shards of Hope has everything in it, satisfying romance, action, a mystery, psychology, and politics. It is fascinating, and there are few readers I wouldn’t recommend the series to. And this was a lovely culmination of the first arc and a stunning step into the next one. 5 stars, and I can’t wait for the next book. I’m really kind of hoping for two former Councilors to take the fall.

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3 thoughts on “Review – Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

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