Journey to the Heart of the Abyss (Light the Abyss, #2)New
Leyla McQueen has finally reunited with her father after breaking him out of Broadmoor, the illegal government prison—but his freedom comes at a terrible cost. As Leyla celebrates his return, she must grapple with the pain of losing Ari. Now separated from the boy who has her heart and labeled the nation’s number one enemy, Leyla must risk illegal travel through unchartered waters in her quest for the truth behind her father's arrest.
Across Britain, the fallout from Leyla's actions has escalated tensions between Anthropoid and non-Anthropoid communities, bringing them to an all-time high. And, as Leyla and her friends fight to uncover the startling truths about their world, she discovers her own shocking past—and the horrifying secrets behind her father’s abduction and arrest. But as these long-buried truths finally begin to surface, so, too, do the authorities’ terrible future plans. And if the ever-pervasive fear prevents the people from taking a stand now, the abyss could stay in the dark forever.
The second book picks up where the last book left off, with Ari captured by the government Blackwatch and Leyla and her father being labeled among the most wanted criminals. In the Kabul, Leyla's sub, they are searching for the amphi communities for their help in locating and rescuing Ari. As she begins her search, she is now increasingly aware of the government lies and injustices, willing to do what it takes to protect the people she loves.
What I loved: This is an absolutely action-packed sequel with lots of twists and turns that lead to the explosive ending. While readers do need to have read the first book to fully get into this sequel, the book does a great job of recapping the key events from the first, which is helpful if the first was read a while ago. This book is expertly plotted with clues leading to the big reveals along the way, and some which may be guessed, while others will be surprises.
The characters remain really compelling with Leyla leading the charge. Leyla's love for those around her and willingness to learn and evolve have led to a lot of character growth throughout these books, and it makes for a really captivating story. Ari remains another strong character, and I loved the way they come together and make space for each other. Although the romance is relatively background, their relationship definitely shines in their friendship as well as interest. The world-building is also fully realized, with the underwater cities and culture coming to life, and I absolutely wish I had a sub anything like the Kabul.
The themes of the book are really thought-provoking and make this a great duology for discussion. The story touches on propaganda, weaponization of "civility," othering and prejudice, the power of whistleblowers, religion, identity, and hatred stemming from ignorance. All of these themes touch on the reality of history but remain important to consider and discuss, making it a great choice for book clubs.
Final verdict: With compelling characters, masterful world-building, thought-provoking themes, and captivating plot twists, JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE ABYSS is the explosive and thrilling conclusion to an atmospheric and lush YA sci-fi/fantasy duology. Highly recommend picking up these books for fans of LEGEND, THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT, and DEFY THE STARS.