It must hard to be in the middle. There are plenty of jokes and references to being the middle child – think Jan Brady, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” The oldest and youngest children get all the benefits of their unique positions and all the attention. I think it’s similar for trilogies. The first book is exciting. It’s breaking ground by introducing us to its world and its characters. The final book in a series sends us hurtling toward the conclusion while letting us spend some final quality time with the characters we have become emotionally invested in, the final book also reveals the answers to questions and secrets in the plot.
Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons is the sequel to Article Five and as such it has a tough job. At this point it’s already clear who the bad guys and the good guys are, well with the exception of Tucker who seems more of a writer’s device to try to inject some tension into the story. After all, the romance between Ember and Chase isn’t adding any tension or heat, it’s been clear to readers how the characters feel even though the characters were slow to reach the same conclusion. Yes, there is plenty of physical action and plotting, but it all seems a little bit A-Team. There’s another plot twist that relates to Ember’s mom which also feels like an obvious ploy to add some excitement to this sophomore effort.
This may all sound as if I didn’t like the book, but that’s not exactly the case. As I’ve said, it’s hard hold the middle position and if I judge this second book by the difficult role it has to fulfill as the middle of a trilogy, it does ok. It’s unfair to think it’s going to hold my attention the way a first story always does. The first book of a trilogy is like a first kiss with someone, it’s all new and exciting, you learn about the structure of the dystopian world the author has imagined. You fall a little in love with the characters, though they are still a bit of a mystery as later books tend to reveal some unexpected reactions, emotions and histories. The second book is, well, comfortable. The initial heat has subsided a little and while there is a cozy familiarity with the world and the characters, it can be a little routine. The relationship is too good to just turn away from, but you long for that first rush of feeling and hope that the third book will fulfill that early sense of promise felt. The third book is the one that may not have the excitement of the first, but readers’ relationships with the characters and the world they live in deepens. I hope Kristen Simmons is able to do that in the next book.