So when it comes to the traditional structure of the trilogy, I have always been a fan of the middle portion of the story. Sure, dramatic conclusions are gripping and fun. And we all love the back-story of the characters and getting introduced to everyone in the first installment, but I think that the second act is where the meat of the drama really lies. Often, this is where things just go downhill, our heroes are put to their ultimate test. This isn't the big heroic ceremony with Han Solo and Chewie getting medals put around their necks, while Luke has a retrospectively awkward moment, sort of flirting with his sister. This is Luke, hanging off the bottom of Cloud City, about to lose his grip, missing a hand, and dealing with the realization that he now has a lot more Daddy issues than he did upon waking up that morning.
Lost Gods is the second book in the Summoners series, so if you aren't familiar with the first, you might want to check out Minor Gods and come back to this one later. You can see my review of it HERE. There are no spoilers ahead, but I am writing this review with the assumption that you have some basic knowledge of the events of book one.
The book picks up shortly after the conclusion of book one. Josie Day, newly discovered mask maker, is being pulled in several different directions at the same time. Despite the fact that the Earth Goddess' mask was broken, she is still unaccounted for. Josie also receives information that suggests that her sister as well as the tribe itself may be in even more danger than anyone had previously imagined. The tribe's eye enlists Josie to start repairing their ancient masks so that they can be equipped to fight the inevitable conflict.
The problem is that Josie's attention is being divided, as her obsession over the identity of the Fire God begins to grow out of control. She has a suspect in mind, and despite the fact that the world is coming apart around them, she continues to be more focused on her broken heart, than on the needs of her community. Her relationship with the friends who care about her becomes more strained as it becomes a race to see if Josie will hear the call to action before it's too late.
There are a lot of things I think that Yates does well in this book. First of all, I love it when you read a series in which the characters evolve and grow as the books move on. The Harry Potter series is a perfect example of this, as the young, bright eyed children we see in book one are a far cry from what we see in book seven. With Lost Gods, we have pretty much the same cast of characters as book one, but their relationships are definitely changing and the dynamic gives the book a fresh feel, not like we're just seeing book one, rehashed and repeated. Yates does a fantastic job establishing the now, much more complex and messy triangle relationship between Josie, Judah and Russell. The rivalry between Russell and Judah comes through clearly on the page and adds an interesting element as Josie tries to maintain friendships with both of them.
I love how Yates takes the harder route with the hero that she creates. It's much easier to write a hero who always does the right thing and is always self-sacrificing. In Lost Gods, we get to see Josie hurting, reeling from the loss of someone, and trying to figure out how she is going to deal with that loss. The tribe is in serious trouble, attacks happening all over the world. The Earth Goddess also has a new god working for her, one that is even more ruthless and violent, and even though Josie is in a unique position to help, we often find the Fire God absorbing her every waking moment. Yates does a beautiful job establishing the dramatic irony for the reader, who gets to watch Josie trying to identify her Fire God, knowing full well who the culprit is.
With so many books, you can immediately spot romantic connections that are inevitably coming later on down the road. Yates' strength is that when things happen in the book, they feel like logical extensions of the emotions of the characters being driven by events of the book, as opposed to just being expected conventions of the genre.
I am a big fan of this series, despite it being somewhat off-genre for me. When it's good, it's good. Yates does a great job taking the story as it started in the first book and upping the stakes. One of my favorite parts of this book is how the villain of the series is able to have such an impact on the book despite not being actually present for very much of it. She creates a great air of mystery that compels the reader onward and when you get to the last page you find yourself looking around for book three. What more could you ask for?
For more info on the author, go to amyates.com.