These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Book Two of the These Vicious Masks series
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.
As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears...
What I Liked:
I think I expected too much from this series. I was so excited to read These Vicious Masks, and when I read it in 2015, I found that I didn't totally love it. But I was cautiously optimistic and immediately pounced on this book when I saw it on NetGalley. And yet... this one was even more disappointing than These Vicious Masks. It was so up-and-down, and while there were some aspects that were okay, there were more that I didn't enjoy. Overall I'm giving the book two stars but I'm honestly struggling to come up with positives..
Evelyn and her other gifted friends want to use their powers for good and find other gifted people. When they get caught trying to rescue a young girl with telekinetic powers, they are rescued by the Society of Aberrations. Several members of the Society try to convince Evelyn that they are doing good work, despite everything in the past. While some of Evelyn's friends decide to join, Evelyn does not, at first. How does she know that the Society is truly reformed? Who can she trust? Even in entering a tentative partnership with the Society, Evelyn doesn't trust anyone. Meanwhile, she has more than enough going on in terms of society, balls, her Little Season, and a potential marriage proposal. But it's all going to come down to the ball her family is throwing her - when two worlds collide, there is bound to be disaster.
Things I liked... hmm. I feel like I'm going to write my review in a bit of a cyclical way. You'll find more information in the next section (because I disliked more than I liked). But there were some things I liked - it's just that I also disliked those things too.
For example: I'm really glad that love triangle gets cleared up, by the end of this book. I hate love triangles, and this one was ridiculous and poorly written. So yay for Evelyn making a choice, Sebastian making a choice, and Mr. Kent making a choice, by the end of the book. BUT, the fact that the love triangle is in this book at all is a strike against the book. See what I mean? A thing I liked but overall, disliked.
I'm honestly sturggling to come up with things I liked about this book, so I'm going to move on.
What I Did Not Like:
I didn't like Evelyn's decision-making. I didn't like the love triangle. I didn't like the pacing. I didn't like the plot. I didn't like the ending.
Basically there was very little that didn't go wrong for me. I'll start with Evelyn. Her decision-making, from the start of this book, is terrible. I feel like she got stupider instead of smarter? It's like she's going backwards in the series, in terms of character development. She acts selfishly for the entire book, by stringing Mr. Kent along, or not voicing her feelings to Sebastian, or pushing Mae at Sebastian (for selfish, stupid reasons), or by saving the life of one person at the end of the book instead of _____ (leaving that blank because of spoilers). Evelyn is incredibly selfish; what's sad is that she thinks she is considering everyone and thinking of everyone, but she is only ever thinking of herself. Finding Sebastian? Finding Mr. Hale? The big plan at the climax, in which she invited all of her friends to help her? It's like Evelyn does not learn.
Also, at other times, it's like she didn't know how to open her mouth and say no. No, Mr. Kent, I don't want your affections or for you to kiss me. No, Mother, I don't want to spend time with Lady Atherton. No, Mother, I don't want to be courted by Lord Atherton (this is not part of the romance, trust me. More of a nuisance than anything else). Evelyn is supposedly feisty and outspoken, but it's like she bit off her tongue when her voice mattered most.
I hate love triangles. I worried about the development of a love triangle in this series, given what I read in These Vicious Masks. Mr. Kent is the childhood friend, the flirt and charmer, the one has been in love with Evelyn for years and even proposed to her before. Sebastian is the handsome, brooding, dangerous young man who is tortured about his particular power. I don't really have anything against Mr. Kent, but I hate him as a love interest. He's so hilarious and quite the flirt, but he's all wrong for Evelyn. I dislike how Evelyn doesn't refuse his attention and even tries to force herself to fall for him (which doesn't work). I don't like it when the heroine lets someone kiss her and clearly doesn't want the experience, but lets it happen anyway.
Also, can we talk about how clearly Sebastian is endgame, but it's not Sebastian that kisses Evelyn (or that Evelyn kisses) in this book? Um, Swoon Reads? Why are you so disappointing? I swear, every single Swoon Reads book has made me complain about the complete lack of swoon in their books. "Regular" non-Swoon-Reads YA books have more swoon than this imprint's books? This is a problem? I'm so over it.
To begin with, I don't find love triangles swoony. I find books even less swoony when the MAIN COUPLE NEVER KISSES IN THE BOOK. Especially given the massive amounts of NO SWOON in These Vicious Masks (yes, that sentence doesn't quite make sense).
The pacing - gosh this book was so boring. I honestly don't even remember what happened in the first 75% of the book. Things only started "happening" as Evelyn's grand ball drew closer. Pretty much everything in the first half of the book (or 75% of the book, really) didn't matter or didn't stick because it didn't matter. Like you could read the last 25% of the book with no problem, and find out all you need to know about the book. Sequel slump, anyone?
This kind of goes along with the plot - I felt like nothing was really happening, in the first half of the book. The story moved too slowly and when things did happen, the scenes were boring. I was very, very bored, while reading this book. It's so short and yet it took me three times as long to read this book as it did to read Traitor to the Throne. You all know how long that book is, right? I could barely keep my eyes open (in terms of These Ruthless Deeds).
That ending! What the heck! It's all kind of maniacal and brutal! I obviously can't say anything specific about it but goodness! The authors went all out. The only good thing I will say about the ending in general is that the love triangle is a done deal, and hopefully it will never plague the series again.
A final note - the authors do a poor job of bringing readers back into the story. You know how authors will do that mini info-dump in the first chapter that summarizes the previous book, so you're not totally lost? That didn't happen in this book (or simply was not effective). I barely remembered anything from These Vicious Masks, and really had a hard time getting into this one. Maybe reread book one before reading this book.
Would I Recommend It:
After reading this book, I actually no longer recommended this series. I can't even recommend the book, if you've read These Vicious Masks. This series just isn't impressive, the romance isn't swoony, nothing about this series is swoony or action-packed like X-Men. Where is that comparison even coming from? Maybe try this series when all of the books are published. This book suffers from a really bad case of sequel slump but maybe book three will knock the series out of the park.
2.5 stars -> rounded down to 2 stars. Initially I gave this book 3 stars but I started trying to think of things I liked about the book... and could barely come up with one. Honestly this book was more of an ordeal than anything else but I'm glad I read it. I'll definitely be reading book three because I need to know what happens next. But I'll also definitely survive if I never read book three.
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