Ferocious by Paula Stokes
Book Two of the Vicarious series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Paula Stokes returns to the world of Vicarious in this sequel, a high-action psychological thriller with a protagonist out for vengeance.
When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter―finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.
Things get increasingly dangerous once Winter arrives in Seoul. Aided by her friends Jesse and Sebastian, Winter attempts to infiltrate an international corporation to get close to her target, a nefarious businessman named Kyung. But keeping her last remaining loved ones out of the line of fire proves difficult, and when all seems to be lost, Winter must face one last devastating decision: is revenge worth sacrificing everything for? Or can she find a spark of hope in the darkness that threatens to engulf her?
What I Liked:
Ferocious is a little different compared to its predecessor, Vicarious. While Vicarious had a lot of action and jaw-dropping reveals, Ferocious felt more introspective. Fans of Vicarious will not be disappointed with this sequel, as it brings the story to a game-changing climax and wraps up everything in a neat fashion.
This book picks up fairly closely to where the previous book finished. Winter is determined to find the brother she never knew about it, and she leaves Jesse and Baz to recover in the hospital in St. Louis, while she goes to L.A. But trouble follows her to L.A., and she finds herself with Jesse and Baz heading to Seoul. Kyung has the ViSE tech that Winter was determined to protect, and she will stop at nothing to get it out of his hands and to make him pay for all of his crimes.
The pace of this book is much slower and involved more planning (in terms of what Winter, Baz, and Jesse were doing). I didn't mind this because the slower pace seemed necessary, with all that Winter had to take in, at the end of Vicarious. While most of the action deals with Winter trying to get the tech back, the other big part of the story is Winter's mental state.
This book has Winter's mental illness at front and center. Winter is trying to figure out who she is and who her alters are, and what she can do to control these parts of her. I like that Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is something that is talked about a lot in this book - meaning, it is something that constantly appears on the page. Winter worries about losing control to her other alters. She worries about not being strong enough to do this or that. She worries that there is nothing she can do to be "normal" again. But at the same time, she talks about DID to Jesse, and her therapist, and Baz. It's not something that she keeps in secret, and I liked that she kept things so open.
Winter is such a private and sometimes closed-off person, which was obvious in book one, and is still obvious in this book. I must say, the author stays true to Winter's character. Not that you would expect the author not to, but Stokes does an excellent job with the characterization and character development of all of her characters. Winter felt the most real and well-written, probably because the author spent the most time making her flawed and imperfect and human and real.
Jesse is a constant support, always there for Winter, and a big part of the story. Baz is another pillar of support. Jesse was ex-military, and Baz was... something. He has connections to people with dangerous things in Korea (like hand-held weapons), and he is pretty handy to have around. But besides that, Baz is a a nice guy who means well. (If you're wondering, he was a friend of Gideon's, who was Rose's boyfriend and a father-figure to Winter.)
The romance in this book is suuuuuuper slow-burn and barely there. Well, it's something that comes up every now and then, but the majority of the romance is Winter trying to figure out what she wanted. Everyone and their mother could tell that Jesse loved Winter (Winter was well aware too). But Winter kept sending mixed signals because she didn't know what she wanted. Again, slow-burn, until the very end. A little too slow, given that the romance is slow-burn across the series, but not necessarily a bad thing. No swoony moments though, unfortunately.
Props to the author for doing such a great job with the setting (Seoul, mostly) and Korean culture. There are sprinkles of the Korean language, food, and customs, and of course most of the book is set in Seoul. To me it was clear that the author knew what she was writing about and had done her research. (Also, if anyone is curious, Stokes lived in Seoul for some time.)
The climax didn't feel super exciting mostly because by that point you can figure out who is going to live, who is going to die, who is going to end up with the tech, etc. It's a cookie-cutter ending with not a single important death, so take that as you will. It's a good ending but maybe a little too perfect?
What I Did Not Like:
I feel like there are little things about this book that bothered me and I can't say I loved the book. Liked, yes, but not loved. I already mentioned how I thought the ending was a little too perfect, in a cookie-cutter kind of way. I honestly expected this one person to die, or another specific person, but literally no one dies, which was kind of irritating. And I was referring to good guys (in terms of people who I thought would die)! Usually there is at least one major "good guy" death.
The romance was soooooo slow. Don't get me wrong, I love slow-burn. But this was borderline annoying. I wrote above that it wasn't a bad thing and it really isn't for some people. And for most of the book, it didn't really bother me too much. But in the back of my head I kept thinking, nothing is happening! I understand what Winter needed to think through, but she wasn't attempting to think through certain things (like romance), so I didn't know what the point was.
Can I also mention how way-too-perfect Jesse seemed? I am all for sweet boys, but I think Jesse was a little too sweet and perfect. It was really hard for me to wrap my head around his constant I'd-do-anything-for-you-Winter attitude. Can you imagine a young boy in the 21st century carrying on like that? Y'all. I'm 22 i.e. around Jesse's age. It would be a hard NO. Also I'm not sure I see his motivation. I get that he loves her but before he loved her? Why?
"But this is fiction, Alyssa!" Yeah and he is STILL too perfect, selflessness aside. The guy never gets upset. He never gets irritated. He never throws a tantrum or a fit or has a ticking jaw. He literally neverrrrrrrrr feels any kind of negative emotion, EXCEPT maybe the occasional flash of disappointment when Winter doesn't want the breakfast he orders, or something like that. And it's like, a flash of disappointment and then he is back to his peppy self. Y'all. I'm sorry. But no. You could be the most even-tempered person (and I know plenty of those) and you'd still get irritated over this or that, in front of people.
There was something about this book's plot that was a little lacking, especially considering how extreme and intense book one was. Maybe it was the whole "gotta-steal-back-the-tech" thing? I always find that kind of plot hard to believe because you're tell me untrained seventeen-year-old teenagers are outsmarting men in the forties/fifties with high-tech security and state-of-the-art technology and all of that? My imagination stretches pretty far but with these kinds of plot, I'm not always a believer. Especially when I thought there were a bunch of situations in which Winter got lucky, or there was some sort of deus ex machina at work.
Also, a small thing, but I'm so lost as to how Jesse appeared to make a miraculous recovery from the hospital in the early chapters of this book. He was in the ICU in St. Louis wrapped up in bandages upon bandages, and then two days later he hops on a plane, pops out in L.A., kicking down doors and chasing people? And yet he was healing from a gunshot wound and wounds that Winter inflicted on him? As the story goes on, there is mention of how Jesse has to slow down to take stairs, and his bandages have to be checked. But you understand what I'm saying, right? He basically did a 180 in less than 48 hours or so. If I had gotten shot (I think he got shot once at the end of book one, if I remember correctly), I would be chilling for days, if not weeks. This circles back to my mention of how Jesse's selflessness is very, very unbelievable.
Another thing? Does Winter ever feel bad about how she physically hurt Jesse? Not to mention that she manipulates him emotionally throughout this book (by stringing him along, until she finally makes up her mind). But she physically hurt him at the end of the book one, and I don't recall seeing her feel any kind of guilt at all, in this book. Maybe a fleeting thought. No apology or anything. And yet, Jesse treats her like she is Beyonce. Y'all. I can't deal with this fictional, fictitious boy.
Little things, right?
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend Vicarious but I can't say I really recommend Ferocious. I mean, I don't think anyone who loves this series and author will be disappointed - and if anything, all of my dislikes could be just me. But Ferocious didn't have the same impact that Vicarious had. I think it would have been better if Vicarious had been a standalone. Ferocious seemed kind of expendable and unnecessary - I could have been satisfied with Vicarious (but with a different ending - maybe Ferocious's ending). Vicarious was so good.
3 stars. This was a difficult rating for me because I so wanted to love the book, and I gave it a higher rating initially. But that was me fooling myself and trying to force myself to feel that way. I liked the story but I just didn't love it, and the issues I had with it were enough to impact my rating. Still, I'm not disappointed and I'm glad I finished out the series. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author!
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!