First things first:
I listened to the audiobook and I do like Kate Rudd's voice even if I don't think she can really do good accents or male voices. I mostly adapted to her style and it worked for the story. I don't know if I'd seek for more books she's narrated—probably not—but I wouldn't skip on a book because she's voiced it either.
Then the story:
I actually had to pause and restart this audiobook because I felt like I was missing something important at the beginning. It turns out this really wasn't the case as Walker uses ample time to set up the world and story simply because time travel as a concept is just that confusing. Others have called this a pacing issue and info dumping, but I can't say I noticed as I was listening to the audiobook.
I did, however, notice how the author introduced new characters who became super important to the protagonist in a blink of an eye, even if I didn't label and file it under "characters too stupid to live" until later.
Other things that did bother me, were the main character and first person voice narrator calling a character "Pudgy" long after she'd learned his name. This fat-phobia resurfaced when Kate's—the time travelling protagonist—boyfriend took her home for dinner and she made a comment about how thin Trey is despite all the food his family's Guatemalan housekeeper keeps pushing at him and everyone at the table.
Speaking of secondary POC characters. I completely missed Charlayne's (African American, thankfully the author tweeted me and set me right *wipes forehead & flicks fingers*) description, but then again she only featured in a handful of scenes. She's supposed to be Kate's best friend and motivate her to keep time jumping, but it's not like she has her own personality on the page. You could even call her the token black character and you'd be right.
Other than a vague feeling of something not being quite right and the use of words "blood as pure as mine" when Kate's talking about her time travelling gene, I can't really pinpoint my problem with race in this book. An expert—which is to say a non white person—could tell you more.
There's a love triangle in this book and series.
If you need to know more, keep reading.
One of the love interests is another time jumper from an earlier time who is supposed to be a villain to some but is quite obviously helping Kate in her quest to correct the time shifts. Thing is, I couldn't care less about Kiernan Dunne and he's obviously supposed to be the one who ends up with Kate. Kiernan is from the past and in love with another version of Kate from another timeline, but when has that stopped a creative author?
I did however like Trey, one of the insta-love contenders of the year and a contemporary guy from one of Kate's changed timelines. Unlike with Kiernan, Walker actually shows how Trey and Kate grow closer and could be good together. And I figured he'd be the one she'd have to sacrifice to fix things, which made me like him all the more right up until the point where he insisted that all she had to do was to smile at him for him to fall in love with her again. It wouldn't matter what she'd say.
And I just can't with that. Neither can I with the fact that Kate's supposedly ready to have sex with Trey just after she's been threatened with rape. I was expecting that particular discussion to happen but I'd hoped the mere threat to her life would've sufficed to prompt it. After all, they might never see each other again after Kate's next time jump.
As for the big bad, I liked that it was basically a family feud combined with religion. It gave me ideas and hopes, which I do not trust the author to fulfill or win me over with her own interpretation.
I just wasn't sure about that until the author tweeted me.
I said about Deadline that Shaun deserves better. In here, it's all about Shaun and his pain and frankly, all of the After The End Times deserves better. Everyone else's pain was pushed aside and Georgia's journalistic guilt crisis seemed to come out of nowhere.
I didn't mind the—I meant it about the spoiler tag—incest revelation and I was kind of expecting it after Shaun said in his book that "sex hadn't been a thing in post-George world" (paraphrasing) or before that if we're honest. I did mind the throwaway line about George and Shaun getting DNA tests before to make sure, as if that'd make it okay. They're still breaking the taboo—as George acknowledges—but the only way their DNA matters is if they're planning on procreating. And neither of the adopted Masons strikes me the kind of a character interested in cribs or midnight feedings.
I minded missing the emotional beats in the character arcs and focusing on the governmental crisis that fell on its arse like a clown in a circus. Except with less practiced grace.
As for the narrators. Paula Christensen continued to be brilliant and Michael Goldstrom was not. Well, he wasn't bad but I liked Deadline's Chris Patton better and Goldstrom's voice just wasn't right for Shaun.
P.S. I was eyeing the Newsflesh novella: Countdown, but I'm not anymore.
Although everything could be explained with his grief over George's death—you know what I mean—it still felt too much like the author didn't really want to change the narrators. Like she hadn't really wanted to tell the story from Shaun's point of view but wished she'd could have kept using George's voice. Shaun was a rounded character in the first book, his own man with certain questionable attachments and characteristics, but here he felt like a shadow of George. And not just because he was grieving.
Of course the end twist explains why all this is, but you know what, I'd rather have skipped right to it, instead of suffer through an inferior installment. Shaun deserves better.
I didn't check the characterisation fail box on my shelf-list, but it was a close thing.
Narrators were good, so good in fact, that I had to double check the names to make sure they weren't the same people as in book one.