Summary from Goodreads:
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.
When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.
As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?
I think I actually liked this book more than the first, which is not usually the case with sequels. I loved the evolution of all the characters, the introduction of new ones, and the new questions and alliances it brought about.
With Ruby as the Leagues weapon, she learns so much. She is able to defend herself better, she has more control over her ability, and she is getting good inside intelligence on the League, camps, and the state of the country. All the while, still fighting becoming the monster she fears she is and sticking to her desperate need to protect all of those she cares about. Then she and two of her League team members, Vida and Jude, leave to find Liam, their relationship is strange and really interested me. Ruby still has that fierce need to protect them, but she also resents them slightly for their belief in the League and their involuntary role in separating she and Liam. As they go through various trials though, their dedication to each other emerges along with a level of trust and acceptance she hasn’t experience with anyone else, and I end up really liking both characters. Vida is a force, but once you have her loyalty she is dedicated to you no matter what (like Chubs/Charles), and Jude is so sweet and determined to prove himself, he embodies the blind hope that most of the others have lost because of all they have been through.
Ruby’s reunion with Chubs was so great! And it was so great to see how much stronger he has become over their time apart. Their reunion with Liam was even better, and I was so glad that he hadn’t completely forgotten Ruby and that she somehow reversed the memory swipe she had done on him. Their relationship is strained because of it though, on top of Liam’s complete distrust of the League and the strained relationship between he and his brother, Cole. They clearly love each other though, and I really hope that instead of Chubs and Liam leaving Ruby with Cole and the new league he decides to stay. I know he doesn’t believe anything good can come from the league, but Liam needs to accept that he can’t save the world all on his own. Ruby doesn’t trust Cole, but she knows it’s her best shot to make a real difference, and I think if Liam stays he and Ruby can work out their issues, they can help the other kids with abilities, and Liam and Cole can balance each other out.
Also, Ruby’s expanding capabilities with her ability are starting to push her into a danger zone more than ever before. She has crossed lines she never expected too, and is constantly fighting her urge to use her abilities as a weapon, both for the good of others and as a means of personal vengeance. Vida is someone she can rely on to help her not cross the line, but I think if she looses Liam and Chubs, Vida won’t be enough to control her.
I loved watching the changes in all of the characters, Liam is a bit irritating in this one, but I am hoping he gets over himself because he’s really a good guy and can make a huge difference working with Ruby and his brother. I hope to see Zu in the next book, and hopefully she’s talking again, she was a great character who I think Ruby really related to and having her around would bring a good balance back to the group with her sweetness and inherent goodness. Can’t wait to see what happens in the finale!