Roaring Brook. (Skyhunter Duology: Bk. 2). Sept. 2021. 416p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250221728.
Gr 9 Up–Six months after the fall of Mara, the Karensa Federation works mercilessly to absorb the formerly free nation into its sprawling empire. Mara’s artifacts are carted to Federation museums and sculpture gardens, their heritage erased. Prisoners await execution or transformation into Ghosts—the hideous monsters the Federation uses against its enemies and subjects. Talin, hostage to the Premier, watches helplessly. Once an elite Striker, Talin tried to stop the Federation’s invasion but she and her friends were too late. Now she stands at the Premier’s side as a Skyhunter—a human turned war machine with lethal strength and steel wings. Red escaped the Federation once, but now, his wings damaged, the first Skyhunter knows he will need more than rage and regret to help his new friends. Chapters alternate between Talin and Red’s first-person narrations as they try to find their way back to each other and continue fighting the Federation. Seeds of rebellion and resistance spark action in this story which expands on the sophisticated and nuanced worldbuilding from the first installment. Questions of who is fit to run a nation and how power is bestowed add further depth to the book’s political landscape. As the Premier tries to harness (presumably nuclear) technology from the Early Ones, it becomes clear that sometimes mistakes are doomed to repeat. Lu once again delves into the brutality of war and invasion as Talin, whose vocal chords were damaged in the invasion of her birthplace, and Red, who was recruited by the Federation as a child soldier, reflect on what brought them to this point.
VERDICT A brutal but satisfying conclusion to a strong dystopian duology.

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