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Paved With Good Intentions

The Brink of Darkness, Jeff Giles’s follow-up to The Edge of Everything, spends more time in the Lowlands, but doesn’t shake the tropey plot.

Paved With Good Intentions

BOOK REPORT for The Brink of Darkness (The Edge of Everything #2) by Jeff Giles

Cover Story: Smoke Monster
BFF Charm: Meh x 2
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Too Familiar
Bonus Factors: Found Family, Comeuppance
Anti-Bonus Factor: Torture
Relationship Status: We Tried

Danger, Will Robinson! The Brink of Darkness is the second book in the Edge of Everything series. If you have not read the first book—The Edge of Everything—turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the books, however, feel free to continue below.

Cover Story: Smoke Monster

I didn’t love the hardback cover of The Edge of Everything, but I like it better than this weird smoke lady who looks, sadly, like she’s fading away. It does match the paperback cover of The Edge of Everything, however … though, that makes me irate in the “WHY do the hardbacks not match?!?!” kind of way.

The Deal:

Zoe’s life hasn’t been the same, not since X came into her life. X, a bounty hunter of souls from the Lowlands (i.e., Hell). X, the only living person to reside in said Lowlands, through no fault of his own other than being born. X, the person who showed Zoe who her father really was, and whose mission led to the destruction of Zoe’s home and the death of two of Zoe’s favorite people.

Zoe wants nothing more than to be with X, and her real life is suffering for it. But X has a plan … though whether they’ll all make it out alive remains to be seen.

BFF Charm: Meh x 2

Zoe continues to be an immature, impulsive person who has a penchant for getting wrapped up in her own head/situation, to the detriment of others. It might be because I’m an Old, but more than once while reading The Brink of Darkness, I sighed out loud at her antics. I appreciate that she’s So In Love with X that she’d do anything for him, but ... her poor mother! And brother! And best friends!

We got to see more of the story through X’s POV in this book, which I enjoyed; mostly because he spent a lot of time in the Lowlands, which are the most interesting part of the series for me. He spends a lot of his time plotting or pining, however, and I was actually kind of bored by him more often than not. Being a brooding Mysterious Loner Dude can only take a person so far if their personality is lacking.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Although Zoe and X spend a lot of time talking about how much they love each other, I rarely felt the chemistry between the two. They spend a lot of The Brink of Darkness separate, but even when they’re together—when it should be INTENSE, given their Feelings—it seemed flat.

Talky Talk: Too Familiar

To be very transparent, I wasn’t a fan of The Edge of Everything, mostly because it read like so many other YA novels I’ve read before. I decided to read The Brink of Darkness because I’m a completist and because of the great reviews the book’s getting. (I believe in second chances, and am not afraid to admit when I might have judged something too soon.) Giles did grant me one of my wishes: we got to see more of the Lowlands and the unique variety of people who live there. But the majority of the plot still felt too familiar, and the main characters like shadows of YA protagonists who’ve come before.

Bonus Factor: Found Family

X’s “family” in the Lowlands is a strange one. His adopted mother, Ripper, killed a servant with a teakettle. The only father he’s ever known, Regent, is a Lord of the Lowlands and in charge of doling out punishment to all those who “exist” there, and who gave X the job of being a bounty hunter in the first place. Everyone he knows, aside from Zoe and her family, are dead—and literally in Hell. And yet, there’s good parts to most of them; some of them even did what they did to get sent to the Lowlands out of self-preservation or a sense of justice. It’s a strange, quirky family X has found for himself, but it’s a family nonetheless.

Bonus Factor: Comeuppance

Someone in X’s life—someone who deserves nothing good—gets what’s coming to them. I admit to fist pumping when it happened.

Additionally, a new character in The Brink of Darkness also gets shut down in a pretty spectacular way. So two points for Giles for these great scenes.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Torture

You might assume that because a lot more of The Brink of Darkness is set in the Lowlands that things would get a little uncomfortable, particularly as X goes deeper into the seedier, more abhorrent parts of the place. You wouldn’t be wrong.

Relationship Status: We Tried

I’m not mad that I gave you a second chance, Book, but we still aren’t connecting like either of us wants or deserves. Let’s just call it a day and move on, shall we?

Literary Matchmaking:

  

● If you haven’t read The Edge of Everything, the first book in this series, you need to do so. (I also hope you didn’t ruin it for yourself by reading this review. I did warn you.)

● If you’re interested in spending more time in Hell with a swoony dude, check out Meg Cabot’s Abandon series, starting with Abandon.

● And if you want to spend some quality time with more Mysterious Loner Dudes with questionable backgrounds, try Reneé Ahdieh’s Flame in the Mist.

 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Bloombury USA Childrens but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Brink of Darkness is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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