Letters of Mass Construction

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

“You are lucky, Thorn. You are very lucky.”

“Doubtless. Not every girl gets to be stabbed through the face.”

I should just drop the mic and end the review with those quotes because honestly if those lines don’t intrigue you then this is not the book for you. Half the World is the second book in the Shattered Sea trilogy. It is by Joe Abercrombie and anyone who knows me, knows that I think Abercrombie is one of the best writers out there right now. I hunger for Abercrombie books like a zombie needs a brain snack.

When Abercrombie said he was going to write a teen fantasy series I was a little apprehensive about how he would translate. One of my favorite things about him is he wallows in the muck. His books are grimy and violent and full of despicable people. He tends to write books with no clear heroes. He paints his world in shades of grey. Good people make mistakes and do horrible things. Bad people do heroic deeds. No one thinks they are the villain.

I was pleasantly surprised with Half a King (Shattered Sea Book 1) but not completely knocked out like I have been with Abercrombie’s adult books. While it was still violent and gritty (especially for a teen book) I just didn’t totally identify with Prince Yarvi. I was much more attached to the characters around him. Although, I loved the story and the twists the story took. One of my favorite books of last year, just not quite as good as I was hoping.

Half the World is a complete marvel. It was everything I had hoped the first book would be and more. Easily one of my favorite teen books I have ever read. This is an amazing thing to me. It is fairly rare that a second book dramatically improves a series. It is even rarer when the first book was a very solid entry.

The second book has most of the major players from the first back for another round of intrigue and betrayal. They are however not the main players. Abercrombie switches it up and this story follows two young fighters, Thorn and Brand, as they find their way in a world about to explode into violence. This is what made the book a treat. The story feels more intimate. I cared more about Thorn and Brand. Their friendship feels natural, despite how different they are as people. Plus, Thorn absolutely kicks ass. She is my new favorite character.

Thorn and Brand carry this book all the way through. The book is like a runaway freight train and they are running along the top of it trying to save themselves and everyone they care about. They are not perfect characters. Both of them are broken. Both of them want something they feel will carry them out of the pain they are in. They are both wrong. Their story is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. Did I mention Thorn kicks ass?

Prince Yarvi is still a major player in this story. Now he is Minister Yarvi. He is the puppet master supreme. Constantly manipulating the world around him to get the result he thinks will save his people. It became apparent to me very quickly that I liked Yarvi a lot more in this book. I think he works much better slightly off to the left of the story. Always there. Always important but not the main focal point of the story. Although, he is the main cog in the wheel that drives the plot forward.

Half the World was my favorite read so far this year. I am eagerly awaiting the final book in the series. Honestly, I am not sure how it could be better than this book but I know Abercrombie’s skill as a writer will make the journey to find out a fun one.

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