Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
Dar & Earth: Revelations is the much-anticipated second book in the Dar & Earth series by the brilliant Athena Kaiman. It continues the stories of Aelish, a magical being born on Earth in the 1500s, and Isabela, a child prodigy coping with her mother's battle with cancer.
The first book really raised the bar and our expectations, scoring a 9.4/10. It featured beautiful writing, two compelling characters, and a lot of emotional depth. It also didn't get too much into the weeds of social/political commentary despite a slight leftist lean. A lot of times, we've found that getting too preachy or didactic with one's message can detract and distract from a good story and have the opposite effect on the audience, causing them to close their eyes and ears to the message. No one likes to be lectured. Ironically, much of this second book consists of lectures.
Don't get us wrong though, this is still a solid to good book, it just wasn't as good as the previous book. It's similar to how nothing in the Rocky series could ever touch that first movie which won Best Picture on a shoestring budget. Nothing in the Star Wars series could ever exceed the original trilogy for its cultural impact.
Similarly, this second book just can't top the first one.
In all honesty, there was several things about this book that bothered us. In this book, the series seems to lose the impartiality and balance that was present in the first book. For example, we're now all in with more leftist/social justice warrior ideology. The book essentially begins with the council of Dar (made up of all females) talking about how terrible and careless the humans of Earth are because they've created a situation which has accelerated global warming and climate change. In probably the most disturbing and troubling line of the book, a council member makes the comment that the Earth isn't intended to sustain more than 2 billion people. So, are we going to get into a population control argument now?
That's what always worries us when it comes to the argument of climate change. We acknowledge it. We want emissions to be limited. We want fossil fuels to eventually be phased out in favor of clean, green, renewable energy. Yes, yes, we get that. The problem we have is when climate change activists go from being “we love Earth and nature and want future generations to have an Earth to inhabit” to “there are too many humans.” What a terrible, alien thing to think. It's almost like these people have forgotten that they are humans.
What we're saying is that some climate change activists go way too far with their ideology, essentially becoming more like Thanos from the Marvel movies in wanting to eliminate a portion of humanity to make the world more sustainable. Yeah, we don't dig that. We're somewhere in the middle.
Thankfully, there are glimmers of balance sprinkled in here from time to time. For one, the very issue of methane gas is contentious because it is acknowledged that much of it actually doesn't come from humans, their factories, or their automobiles, but from bovines (cows). However, humans are still to blame for their meat and dairy consumption, because of course they are. The other issue that seems to be huge in this book is that of abortion. This is an uncomfortable and very heated issue for a lot of people, obviously.
Aelish finds that she is now somehow pregnant with a human child similar to how her own mother was pregnant with her. This actually triggers much of the personal drama in the book with Aelish torn about what to do about the child, who can't survive in Dar's atmosphere and would force her to move back to Earth. She also wonders what her husband, Thagar, will think about the child. The book reiterates that it's her choice whether to keep the baby or not, although it does consider the big picture. For instance, even the Dar council becomes aware of the baby and are particularly interested in the fact that it's a girl (a potential future member of the council). Thagar's feelings are also considered. However, who even cares about Thagar? Honestly, Thagar might be the worse thing about this series. Mr. Telepathic Sex is such an unlikable romantic interest. He reminds us of Four from Divergent. We constantly find ourselves wanting him to leave the picture so we can read about Aelish and Isabela instead.
Anyway, what's interesting about this book is that despite its left-leaning stance on climate change and abortion, it still seems to highlight the opposite perspective. For example, it really does seem that Aelish believes in the sanctity of the life of her unborn fetus, viewing her as a her and a daughter rather than just a clump of cells as pro-choice advocates often state. She even starts to associate the life and existence of her daughter with that of her late mom who was in a similar situation in choosing to have and raise her. So, that was refreshing.
Another thing that we did not like about this book is that Isabela magically, suddenly transformed into a Mary Sue. Not only is she smart, she is often stated to be the “smartest person” on Earth. In fact, she is considered smarter than most of the geniuses in human history—at age 13! She is even accepted into medical school at that age and starts lecturing professors about science stuff. Geez Luiz, hold your horses. When did this series jump the shark?
The first half of book one was so grounded in reality. It was powerful and emotional. There was a grittiness to it. Now, it almost seems like a fairy-tale or a comic book, something distant, absurd, ridiculous, and abstract. It's very hard to take these things seriously anymore. We could buy Isabela being somewhat precocious, clever, and intelligent. We could buy her being the top of her middle school or even high school class. But we're supposed to buy that she's possibly the smartest human being who ever lived (ever) at age 13? We're supposed to buy her grand standing and lecturing professors during their own lectures? We're supposed to buy that she passes the MCAT willy-nilly like it's no big deal with little to no effort?
We have a prospective medical student among us. Do you know how doggone hard it was for them to study and train for the MCAT? How much time, energy, and money they spent to be able to attempt it? Seriously. It's kinda insulting.
Isabela has suddenly become such an obnoxious know-it-all, and she's almost unlikable at this point.
Now, it is kinda interesting that the power dynamic between Aelish and Isabela is somewhat flipped. In the previous book, Aelish was the wise one who was there to teach and guide Isabela. Now, it seems that Isabela is the wise one who often educates Aelish on science and how to be human in modern times.
We're also introduced to a new villain in Glen, who unfortunately does not quite match Gidian from the previous book. In fact, Glen kinda reminded us of Jacob from the final season of Prison Break. Perhaps you'll see what we mean when you read it.
Check it out on Amazon!