Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Bec McMaster - The Last True Hero

In the drought-stricken Wastelands that arose out of an apocalypse, Adam McClain never thought himself the hero. Kicked out of the town he created, and shunned by his friends and former allies when they discovered what he was, he's managed to find work as a bounty hunter. After all, who better to hunt the wargs and reivers that haunt the Badlands, than one of the monsters themselves?
Mia Gray learned the hard way that men can't be trusted, and when McClain strides into her bar she knows that trouble just walked in. The rugged bounty hunter is her greatest weakness–but he's hiding something, and the last time a man kept secrets from her, she got her fingers burned. Tempting as he is, Mia's staying far away.
But when a horde of reivers strikes her town and captures her sister, the only one Mia can turn to is McClain. Together they might just be able to rescue her sister, but what will happen when Mia learns of the secret McClain is hiding? Can she ever trust him again? And when the man who broke Mia's heart in the first place discovers the same secret, will McClain survive?

Comment: After having enjoyed the first book in this series, to my complete surprise since that book was labeled as post apocalyptic and dystopia -  which I rarely read not because I hate the concept but mostly because it usually features scenarios too sad and often unfair to go through - I saw this one was also out and I decided to try it, hoping I'd have more of the same positive elements that made me like the first one.

This story pretty much follows the incidents of the first book and found Adam McClain as a loner in a bar way out of his former settlement Absolution. Adam was unmasked as being a warg, a man who was clawed and now turns into an animal but he can't control his animal side which makes him - and others like him - dangerous to others.
Adam has been feeling pretty down because of recent events but when the opportunity to help Mia, the woman he has been attracted to lately, arises he does join a small group of people who will go on a mission to rescue kidnapped members of their community.
Among all the challenges the rescuing group needs to face, can Adam be honest with Mia and win her over when all its done?

I admit I was really hoping to be as wowed as I was when I read the first installment. Like I said, I tend to not enjoy reading stories where terrible things happen to "good" characters and that is quite a trend in apocalyptic stories, so... but after finishing this book, despite its positive aspects, I was left with more doubts than will to eventually read the third book when it's released.

This story is focused on the plot to rescue some people who were kidnapped to be sold as slaves. Adam is the main character and he is part of the rescuing group simply because he was close by and decided to join in. One could say his motivations weren't simple as he wanted to impress Mia, a woman he flirts with when he's at her bar but feels could be so much more if only he wasn't a warg but more than that, he wanted to be important for something after being expelled from the community he helped creating and protecting. His feelings aren't strong, his morale was low enough that the first scene of the book is his memory of how he tried to commit suicide but didn't do it.

Adam is indeed a complex character. He is the sort of hero one finds easily in romance novels and I actually felt for him and his feelings of inadequacy, of loss and depression. Of course he becomes a better man, and so on, as his decisions try to take the group into their goals.
However, despite his personality being well done, I hoped for more when it comes to his being a warg. In the previous book there scenes (and hints) that would lead the reader to think being a warg could be something wargs themselves could control/use for their own improvement and acceptance. I think this situation wasn't exploited well because although there's mention of that, practically no change in the state of affairs happened throughout the plot. I imagined that accepting being a warg would lead Adam to become more confident but nope...

Then there's the romance. Well, perhaps I wasn't having the best state of mind for it but it seemed the romance was very poorly done. Adam and Mia could be falling in love but it didn't seem like it. The other book was so well balanced between personal development and romance when it came to the main couple. But in this book I missed the emotional engagement that would enable me to feel happy for them and in the end the romance didn't feel so, it was just another element to add to the story and that was it. It was a weak romance as a whole and the attitude of the characters to admit a physical relationship at least by being unsure about it was a bit boring.
Mia herself as the heroine wasn't a character I felt very invested in. I can't explain but her personality just didn't win me over and that might be part of why this story felt weaker too.

The setting of this story keeps being interesting. Dystopia and apocalyptic stories usually follow a trend though: the exploitation of what is the norm now instead of looking for to change for the better what became of the world/society. How much more demanding that could be... well, for each their own taste.
All in all, a good enough add to the Burned Lands series but not amazing to me.
Grade: 6/10

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