NOTE: Received an ARC from Tundra Books in exchange for a review*.
James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago … without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his ‘partner in crime’.
Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour– not that Mycroft’s ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him … and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble. — [X]
Every book series that refers back to old and beloved classics should have as solid a start as Every Breath. In the first book, Ellie Marney presented us with Watts and Mycroft– characters that were every bit as electric and alive as the ones that inspired them– and she set up a plot that led us to the larger mystery of Mycroft’s life, urging readers through every chapter with her gripping, brilliant writing. I was very curious to see what the next book held but also a little apprehensive; Every Breath is a tough act to follow.
However, since Every Word opens with Rachel kicking butt at roller derby, while her brother and boyfriend cheer her on from the stands, I can safely say that this is the best damn opening a sequel has ever seen. It only gets better from there. And despite being an intense scene, we see Rachel with her friends and teammates, doing what she loves and feeling loved. It’s a wonderful way to pick up her story, especially given the confusion and terror that coloured the last few pages of Every Breath.
It was also a relief to see Watts and Mycroft have (however briefly) a healthy, romantic relationship. (Do you know how rare that is in YA?!) Plus, there is so much female gaze–probably even more than all the Thor movies put together– that I was reduced to a puddle of giggles. There was no will-they-won’t-they with Wattscroft. No angst. Just romance and attraction and concern for one another, all of which I really appreciated. I mean, Watts’ mother isn’t thrilled with this relationship but then again, when are mothers ever happy with guys like Mycroft? And when have daughters ever listened, re: guys like Mycroft? Besides, there was never an indication that Watts was anything less than an intelligent, brave teenager who happened to be in love. It really is a shame that Mycroft goes tearing off to London and ends this happy period. Not that Watts takes it lying down:
Going to UK with Walsh. Don’t be mad. Will stay in touch. M
Five-twenty this morning. And he had the audacity to include a smiley.
I’m going to kill him. — Page 41.
Obviously, she goes after him because, I mean, who else is going to make sure the idiot doesn’t get himself murdered? And while it kills me that Watts ignores her parents’ messages (guess I am getting older), I can also see how explaining a relationship with someone who has had PTSD since he was a child is going to be … complicated:
“It’s like we never existed. Sometimes I wonder if I exist … There’s nothing to hold on to, nothing real. Just a few photos in an album. Nobody remembers them. Nobody remembers we were even a family.”
“You remember. You keep their memories alive.”
“Yeah … And it’s killing me. It’s like I’m the bloody funeral urn for it all …” — Page 113.
For me, besides the plot, this is what pulled me through the novel: plotting Watts and Mycroft’s progress as people who both suffer from trauma (albeit different kinds and to different degrees) and wondering how it would affect not just their relationship but their partnership. Mycroft needs a therapist, but just like Sherlock Holmes, he is definitely more functional with Watts by his side. Watts, for her part, knows this well:
“It’s good for me, you know.”
“You being clever. Takes a load off.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Gee, thanks.”
“No, it’s not like … I mean, I can never take you for granted.”
“That’s right.” — Page 241.
It doesn’t mean, however, that Watts is constantly overcome with her love and concern for Mycroft:
“But I have to be impartial. I came to England to support Mycroft — that doesn’t mean I have to follow him blindly.” — Page 151.
Again and again, Watts proves that she is an equal to Mycroft, that she is as brave and as insightful as him. And when she can’t see clearly, there is the incredible Alicia:
“Is that what you want your relationship with Mycroft to be like — where he just pushes on, trying to outrun his emotions all the time, and then when he can’t take it anymore he comes to you for a bit of relief? Because I got the impression you were hoping for something more honest than that.” — Page 164.
They probably would have figured things out eventually but sometimes the world is bigger than two young people in love. It is clear from the start that Watts and Mycroft are in over their heads with their investigation but when things take a turn for the worse and they end up kidnapped, there really is no time to regret. It dawns on the readers then that should Watts and Mycroft get out of this one alive, they most definitely won’t get out if it unchanged.
Every Word is a fantastic sequel. The plot is almost unbearably fast-paced, the romance is as complex as the people involved, and the characters are wonderfully developed over the novel, even the ones you thought you knew from the last book. Every Word most definitely will remind you that “edge of your seat” is a phrase for a reason– I literally was on the edge of mine. Recommended!